Study: Climate change likely to heat up Los Angeles

Study: Climate change likely to heat up Los Angeles


The City of Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles, along with other organizations, have released a report on a new study modeling potential future climate conditions in the Southern California area, which could provide climate scientists with never-before-seen data.

In a release from the office of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor says that the climate report is the “first of its kind” and makes predictions “down to a neighborhood level.” Whereas previous studies have focused on making general predictions on a very wide-scale, the researchers claim that this new study gives a view of the effects of warming temperatures at a more local scale.

According to the website for the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability, Los Angeles’ varied topography, which includes mountains, valleys, seaside, and inland areas, makes the local effects of large-scale changes challenging to predict. The study was conducted by a team led by Alex Hall of the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and used advanced computer modeling to make predictions.

“Even if we we drastically cut pollution worldwide, there will still be quite a bit of warming in Los Angeles,” said Mr. Alex Hall of UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. “I was taken a little taken aback by how much warming remains, no matter how aggressively we cut back. It was sobering.”

The researchers report that months of computer time were necessary for the work of reinterpreting 22 global-scale climate models at the local level. The study begins with climate assumptions from global models for the years 2041 to 2060, and applies them to the local conditions and variations of the Los Angeles area. Standard global models typically provide predictions for regions between 60 and 120 miles in width, whereas this new study for Los Angeles attempts to make predictions for areas as small as 1.2 miles across.

Given the study’s assumptions and models, the researchers concluded that the city of Los Angeles may see an average annual increase of 3.7 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperature increases will be greatest during the summer and fall, while the increase during winters will be less pronounced. The report also predicts that the number of days of “extreme heat”, that is days with a temperature above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, will increase.

The model suggests that downtown Los Angeles may experience three times the number of extreme heat days, while the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys may see four times as many extreme heat days.

Mayor Villaraigosa has asked city departments to begin to make assessments on the basis of the results of the study. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and commissioned by the City of Los Angeles.