New study highlights severe climate conditions worldwide

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A recent study, built to enable local action, highlights the severe climate impacts resulting from a 2°C temperature rise.

This summer, the headlines have been dominated with reports of extreme weather: from raging wildfires in Canada to perilous floods in India, Japan, and the Eastern US; intense heat waves have scorched Spain, China, the US, and Mexico, culminating in the hottest day ever recorded on our planet.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute (BAERI) and NASA Ames Research Center provides a thorough examination of how these extreme events will worsen as our planet’s temperature creeps upwards, and where these events are more likely to clash and combine in ways that significantly impact people’s lives and livelihoods.

The study uses a publicly available NASA dataset, the NASA Earth eXchange – Global Daily Downscaled Projections (NEX-GDDP), that can “zoom in” on projected changes to a local scale, allowing any community in the world to start preparing today.

The study looked at a world where warming exceeds two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. It focused on the geographic patterns of projected changes to key climate variables, including changes to air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed. Two degrees of warming is widely considered to be a critical threshold above which Earth will witness the dangerous and cascading effects of human-generated climate change. According to the study, two degrees of warming is expected to occur sometime in the 2040s, though variation exists across projections from different climate models.

Climate variables don’t act in isolation. “We wanted to study how these individual climate variables are projected to change and what their combined impacts could mean for people around the world. The changes in one variable can compound the effects of another. We need to look at them together to understand the real impact on human lives,” said Taejin Park, a researcher at BAERI and the first author on the paper.

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