The changes our region will face are significant, and we will have to adapt. This study lays a foundation for the region to confront climate change.
Places like Lancaster and Palm Springs are already pretty hot areas, and when you tack on warming of 5 - 6°F , that's a noticeable difference. If humans are noticing it, so are plants, animals and ecosystems. These places will be qualitatively different than they are now.
We looked not only at a business-as-usual scenario where greenhouse gas emissions continue but also at a scenario where emissions are curtailed. Even if we drastically cut pollution worldwide, there will still be quite a bit of warming in Los Angeles. I was a little taken aback by how much warming remains, no matter how aggressively we cut back. It was sobering.
I think for many people, climate change still feels like a abstract and faraway; this makes it more real. It's eye-opening to see how much it will warm where you live. This data lays a foundation for really confronting this issue, and I'm very optimistic that we can confront and adapt to a changing climate.
L.A. is one of the first cities to get its act together, from the scientists all the way up to the Mayor. Nobody knew precisely how to adapt to climate change because no one had the data — until now. These are shocking numbers, and we will have to adapt if we are to thrive.
What does a changing climate mean for Los Angeles and the surrounding communities?
Until now, city planners, advisors, leaders and residents have been unable to properly estimate and prepare for anticipated changes. In response, researchers at UCLA released a series of groundbreaking regional climate assessments.
By down-scaling several global climate models, Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region is the first study to provide regional climate change predictions for the greater Los Angeles area, with unique predictions down to the neighborhood level.
Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region and additional upcoming are produced by UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences with funding and support from the City of Los Angeles, in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC).
All areas across the Los Angeles region will experience warming in the coming mid-century. Los Angeles will begin to observe a gradual rise in annual average temperatures over the next 30 years.
An important aspect of this study is that it shows where different areas will experience different degrees of warming.
According to the study, coastal areas like Santa Monica and Long Beach are likely to warm an average of 3 to 4 degrees. Dense urban areas like downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys will warm an average of 4 degrees, and mountain and desert regions like Palm Springs and Lancaster will warm 4 to 5 degrees.
Southern Californians should expect slightly warmer winters and springs but much warmer summers and falls, with more frequent heat waves.
This study zooms in so close that it is able to observe global climate influences on the level of the neighborhood. We now know the likelihood of how many of these hot days to expect in each of our neighborhoods.
It is not only the temperature influence of a cool body of water that can cool the air, the very act of evaporation diminishes the likelihood of extreme high temperatures. This is why areas that already tend to be dry will warm faster and more intensely as the study reveals. Water has the ability to break, or buffer, the heat through evaporation, up to a point.
The mountain ranges, even small ones, act as a barrier to shared airflow from the coast. This is a likely contributor to the greater increases in hot days that are shown for areas on the inland side of Santa Monica Mountains, like Woodland Hills, where there is less opportunity for ocean influence. The San Fernando Valley will warm about 10% more than the L.A. Basin. Along this same track, areas show more warming the further they are away from the coast.
Mountains not only impact valleys and inland areas, they also experience degrees of increased average temperatures similar to desert areas. This does not mean that the mountains will be as hot as desert areas, it means that they will experience a similar amount of increase to their average.
The study shows that both mountains and deserts will experience an average warming of about 5°F. For example, today’s temperature at the top of the San Gabriel Mountains reads 70°F, by the year 2041, that same location, during a similar time of year, will be 75°F. Similarly, where today’s temperature in Bakersfield is 95°F, 30 years from now it will be 100°F.
In other words, no matter what, significant warming will still occur by the approaching midcentury time period. This is because a certain amount of greenhouse gases are already 'committed' to the system.
However, by observing this range, the study enables us to have a clearer picture on the challenges to come.