WESTWOOD—Climate change is a word thrown around, but numbers speak volumes about the concept, like a 4-to-5-degree difference come mid-century.
The impending bump in temperatures, discovered by University of California, Los Angeles climate expert Alex Hall, will result in “tripling the number of extremely hot days in the downtown area and quadrupling the number in the valleys and at high elevations.”
Hall is also a member of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES) and director of the institute's Center for Climate Change Solutions.
The study, “Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles,” made possible by the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability, is reportedly the first to study climate change specific to the Greater Los Angeles area, down to the neighborhood level.
A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for $613,774 and $484,166 in commission enabled the study of Southern California’s regional climate change.
The study looked at the years 2041 to 2060 to determine the eventual shift. The study included Orange County and areas of Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, an as far as Palm Springs, Bakersfield and Santa Barbara, according to a release from UCLA.
According to Hall’s study, coastal areas like Santa Monica and Long Beach are likely to warm an average of 3 to 4 degrees. Densely populated urban areas like downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys will warm an average of 4 degrees, and higher elevations in the mountain and desert regions like Palm Springs and Lancaster will warm 4 to 5 degrees.
"This is the best, most sophisticated climate science ever done for a city," said Paul Bunje, the managing director of the LARC and the executive director of UCLA's IoES Center for Climate Change Solutions.
Among the highest predicted increases are Wrightwood (5.37), Big Bear Lake (5.23), Palm Springs (5.15), Palmdale (4.92), Lancaster (4.87), Bakersfield (4.48) and Santa Clarita (4.44). Table 2 in the study calls out 27 distinct locations, such as downtown Los Angeles (3.92), San Fernando (4.19), Woodland Hills (4.26), Eagle Rock (3.98), Pasadena (4.05), Pomona (4.09), Glendale (3.99) and Riverside (4.23), according to figures from the study.
These figures are only annual averages, and the day-to-day increase in temperatures will vary, Hall said. However, “eery season of the year in every part of the county will be warmer,” he added. "This study lays a foundation for the region to confront climate change. Now that we have real numbers, we can talk about adaptation."
What does this mean in terms of summer heat?
“Temperatures now seen only on the seven hottest days of the year in each region will occur two to six times as often. The number of days when the temperature will climb above 95 degrees will increase two to four times, depending on the location. Those days will roughly double on the coast, triple in downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, and quadruple in Woodland Hills. In Palm Springs, the number of extremely hot days will increase from an annual average of 75 to roughly 120,” according to reports from the study.
"Places like Lancaster and Palm Springs are already pretty hot areas, and when you tack on warming of 5 to 6 degrees, that's a pretty noticeable difference," Hall said. "If humans are noticing it, so are plants, animals and ecosystems. These places will be qualitatively different than they are now."
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