A recent study published by scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst finds that global warming is not evenly spread, reports UK newspaper The Guardian. The team, which includes Dr Raymond Bradley and researcher Dr Ambarish Karmalkar, looked specifically at the northeastern United States. They found that this area will warm 50% more rapidly than the globe as a whole, and faster than any other United States region. The authors also find that the USA will reach a 2°C level of warming 10 – 20 years before the globe as a whole.
The local effects such as very heavy rainfall across the USA, especially in the northeast, are already being observed. Based on this new research, that trend will only get worse. It means that winters in this region will get warmer and wetter – more winter precipitation will likely occur as rain rather than snow. This affects the availability of water into the spring months. It also means that summers will have more intense heat-waves which will lead to more severe droughts.
The study also suggests that this trend will have an impact on the 2°C target, 2°C being the figure generally agreed as conferring a reasonable chance of avoiding some of the worst climate impacts and some of the potentially disastrous tipping points. Regardless of the so-called temperature target, what this study shows is that even if we do keep the globe as a whole to a 2°C temperature increase, some regions like the northeastern USA will far exceed this threshold, and will be correspondingly ‘unsafe’.
This research therefore provides sound evidence that both the global and the regional climate effects need to be studied, together with their impact on a set of circumstances that may be felt only locally but is nonetheless very extreme.