A future with less heating, more air conditioning

scientific_reports_heating_cooling_days_national

Can you imagine a New York with temperatures that are more like... Oklahoma?

That's one of the comparisons made in a paper published today in Scientific Reports that aims to project how global warming will affect the heating and cooling needs of areas around the United States.

Using a climate scenario that expects global mean surface temperatures to rise by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit, two Stanford researchers projected how the current "normal" annual number of heating and cooling degree days across the US would compare to levels at the end of this century.

(You can think of heating and cooling degree days as a measure of how much heating or cooling a building needs in a place over a time period.)

Here's a clip from the paper about projections for New York City:

The historical CDD [cooling degree day] value of New York City (1,105 CDD) is projected to increase by the end of the century (2,348 CDD), approaching a CDD value that historically prevailed in the hot desert climate of El Paso, TX (2,331 CDD). The historical HDD [heating degree day] value (4,750 HDD) in New York City is projected to decrease (3,126 HDD) to approximately the number of HDD in present Raleigh, NC (3,246 HDD). New York City's historical degree-day sum (5,855 HDD + CDD) will decrease (5,474 HDD + CDD), resembling the historical degree-day sum in Oklahoma City, OK (5,463 HDD + CDD).

The researchers used numbers for current normals from more than 7,000 weather stations around the country, so they were able to make maps based on the projections. One of them -- showing projected differences in cooling and heating degree days across the country -- is above.

A bigger map, which we think illustrates things a bit better, is after the jump. And it illustrates that the Albany area is, of course, not exactly like New York City. But the general trend is projected to be about the same -- fewer heating degree days, and a lot more cooling degree days.

For some reference, the 30-year normal for Albany heating degree days is 6680, and 597 for cooling degree days.

(The delta sign indicates change.)

scientific_reports_heating_cooling_days_change.png

Maps from Petri, Y. and Caldeira, K. Impacts of global warming on residential heating and cooling degree-days in the United States. Sci. Rep. 5, 12427; doi: 10.1038/srep12427 (2015).

[via @StanfordSteph]

Earlier on AOA: A future of more extremes

Comments

And apparently also a future with more Legionnaire's disease.

These maps make me feel bereft as I imagine all the winter fun, and all the species that my children will not be able to know and love.

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