Hot and Getting Hotter? UN Agency Presents ‘Imaginary But Realistic’ Weather Forecasts for 2050

Patrick Goodenough | September 3, 2014 | 3:02am EDT
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A screengrab from the WMO video features a 2050 weather map showing a weather map showing a temperature in central Bulgaria of 50°C, or 122°F. (Image: World Meteorological Organization)

( – In a fresh effort to generate fervor for a far-reaching new global climate agreement, a U.N. agency is releasing videos featuring “imaginary but realistic” weather reports set in 2050, to illustrate the type of extreme conditions it predicts we will face by mid-century.

But the first video in the series of 15 to be rolled out over the coming weeks shows some temperatures for 2050 considerably in excess of those projected in the latest major U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (which has itself been dubbed “too alarmist” by some critics.)

The imaginary 2050 weather forecasts have been submitted by actual television weather presenters from around the world at the invitation of the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

In one of them, a map shows a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6° F) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The latest IPCC report projects that, if “greenhouse gases” (GHG) continue to be emitted at the current rate, temperatures will rise by about 2°C (3.6°F) by 2050, compared to temperatures measured in the 1986-2005 period.

Danish government figures show that Copenhagen in the 1990s and early 2000s had average temperatures ranging from 3°C (37.4°F) in January to 21°C (69.8°F) in August.  According to National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) international meteorological data, Copenhagen’s highest recorded temperature was 31°C (87.8°F).

So in line with the IPCC’s assessment – assuming no reduction in GHG emissions – Copenhagen could expect to have temperatures in the summer of 2050 averaging 23°C (73.4°F) – that is 2°C (3.6°F) higher than those of recent years – much lower than the 37°C (98.6°F) predicted in the WMO’s “imaginary but realistic” weather forecast.

Even the city’s most historically extreme temperature, if increased by the IPCC-projected rise, would only reach 33°C (91.40°F) in 2050.

Similarly, the WMO video features a weather map showing a temperature in central Bulgaria of 50°C (122° F) in 2050.  Central Bulgaria’s average maximum temperature ranges from 6°C (42.8°F) in January to 31°C (87.8°F ) in July, and the highest temperature recorded in Bulgaria, in data going back to 1850, was 45.2°C (113.4°F), in 1916.

And a projected weather map for Zambia on the WMO video shows 48°C (118.4°F) in the southern African country’s south-west.  That part of Zambia’s average maximum temperature ranges from 26°C (78.8°F), in June to 32°C (89.6°F) in September, and its highest recorded temperature “in history” was 42.4°C (108.3°F).

So in all three examples in the WMO video, temperatures in 2050 for Denmark, Bulgaria and Zambia are higher than IPCC predictions, even if record-highest temperatures in those three countries are used as the base line.

“Miami South Beach is underwater,” says a TV weatherman on a WMO video clip portraying imaginary weather reports in 2050. (Image: World Meteorological Organization)

‘Compatible with the most up-to-date climate science’

Elsewhere in the WMO video’s clips of imaginary weather reports from 2050, a presenter in the United States is heard saying, “Miami South Beach is underwater,” while another reporter states that, “The mega-drought in Arizona has claimed another casualty.”

“The weather reports are potential scenarios compatible with the most up-to-date climate science documented by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report,” WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud said in a statement accompanying the launch of the first video.

“They paint a compelling picture of what life could be like on a warmer planet,” he said. “Climate change is already leading to more extreme weather such as intense heat and rain. The ‘abnormal’ risks becoming the norm. We need to act now.”

The WMO videos will be released, one at a time, every weekday from now until September 22, the day before U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon hosts a climate summit in New York.

The Sept. 23 gathering is designed to prod world leaders to make commitments ahead of a major U.N. conference in Paris, France in November 2015, when a global agreement on cutting GHG emissions is meant to be adopted.

The WMO videos feature clips from weather stations in the U.S. (The Weather Channel and NBC 6 in South Florida), Brazil, Japan, Denmark, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, the Philippines, Belgium, South Africa, Iceland, Germany and Tanzania.

U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres thanked the weathermen and women who participated in the campaign “for volunteering their time and their skill to communicate to millions of people the reality we are all facing by 2050 if climate change if left unaddressed.”

“I am sure their films will inspire everyone of the absolute necessity of a meaningful, universal new agreement in Paris in 2015,” she said.

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