Auckland to take on Sydney climate by 2050, new research shows

By 2050, Auckland will resemble a present-day Sydney, according to new research by the Crowther Lab in Switzerland published in the Public Library of Science journal yesterday.

The group of researchers behind the analysis, from ETH Zürich, looked at 520 international cities to assess the likely impacts of climate change by 2050.

What they found; a warmer, drier world.

London will resemble present-day Barcelona, San Francisco today's Lisbon and Cape Town today's Perth.

According to the study, the annual temperature in New Zealand cities will rise by 1.9 degrees Celsius on average, meaning Wellington would take on the climate of present-day Auckland, while Auckland would start to feel a lot like Sydney.

Before you get excited about more tropical temperatures – the analysis shows more rainfall will be experienced during wetter months, an increase in the frequency of extreme droughts in the drier seasons, an overall increase in temperatures globally that researchers say would have a devastating impact on water supplies.

Seventy-seven per cent of the cities around the world will experience a striking change of climate condition, it says.

One of the most concerning findings is that the residents of about a fifth of cities globally – including Jakarta, Singapore, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur – will experience conditions currently not seen in any major cities in the world.

This unprecedented level of change “blew my mind”, said Tom Crowther, founder of the Crowther Lab, which carried out the research.

“These are environmental conditions that are not experienced anywhere on the planet at the moment,” he told the Guardian. “That means there will be new political challenges, new infrastructure challenges, that we have not faced before.”

The analysis shows rainfall will be a particular problem for such cities, with storms becoming more common alongside more frequent and severe droughts.

Crowther said: “We are absolutely not prepared for this. Planning for climate change needs to start yesterday. The sooner it starts, the less the impact will be.”

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