A new study has revealed that the Earth’s climate zones are changing, with 38 to 40 per cent of the planet’s land projected to be in a different climate zone by the end of the century. This percentage could increase to almost 50 per cent depending on the climate models used.
A new study argues that by 2100 almost half the planet will enter new climatic zones, with characteristics different from the current ones. The increase in temperatures and precipitation will generate profound changes that will alter local climates, even forcing us to completely redesign the Köppen-Geiger climate classification maps, first conceived in 1884, which divide the planet into five zones.
A team of researchers led by Paul Dirmeyer, a scientist at the University of Virginia, in the United States, predicts that by the end of the 21st century between 38% and 40% of the Earth’s surface will be in a climate zone other than the that it currently occupies, completely modifying the classifications that are used at this time. Depending on the analysis model used, the projected climate “inversion” for 2100 can climb to almost 50% of the global surface.
A new climate scenario
According to an article published in Science Alert, changes in temperatures and rainfall will mean that a significant part of the planet cannot continue to be classified in the climate zone it currently occupies, moving to new unknown conditions in about 80 years. The most affected areas will be Europe, with a change that will impact between 71.4% and 88.6% of its surface, and North America, with variations that will oscillate between 51.2% and 65.8% of your geographic area.
To assess the projected changes, Dirmeyer and his colleagues turned to Köppen-Geiger maps, a system used to classify Earth into five climate zones, based on temperature, precipitation, and seasons. Developed in 1884, these climate classification maps have been updated numerous times since then, but perhaps in the 22nd century, they will need to be completely modified.
Variations in climatic zones will also indicate an expansion of tropical climates, occupying 23% to 25% of the planet’s land mass by the year 2100. In the same sense, an increase in arid zones is expected, which will come to dominate from 31% to 34% of the Earth’s surface. However, the most drastic change will take place in the polar zone, which covered almost 8% of the earth’s surface between 1901 and 1930, and has now been reduced to 6.5%.
Despite this, changes in climate zones are not something new. “Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Earth has already experienced changes in the climate classification of 14.77% of its land surface, with the most extensive changes observed in North America, Europe and Oceania,” Dirmeyer and his team indicate in the new study, recently published in the journal Earth’s Future.
In addition to the analysis of the Köppen-Geiger maps, the results of the new research build on earlier estimates, produced in 2015 using the climate models available at the time, which found that by 2010 around 5.7% of the Earth’s surface, the planet had shifted toward hotter and drier climate types, compared to 1950.
The notable increase in these variations in the climate classification estimated for 2100 could produce, according to other studies, great changes in food production systems and modify the global distribution of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes or other pests, taking them to new areas until the moment not affected, among other consequences.
According to one of the models, called Phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), 80-90% of all of Europe could have a different climate, and 57-66% of North America will likely have a different climate a different climate in 2100.
On the other hand, about 50% of Asia, 35% of South America, 20% of Oceania and 20% of Africa could be in a different climate zone between 2071 and 2100.
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