The Twin Cities will feel like Kansas in 61 years

Minneapolis-St. Paul will feel like Kansas in 2080.
Minneapolis-St. Paul will feel like Kansas in 2080.
Screenshot via University of Maryland

The Twin Cities will feel like present-day Lansing, Kan. — more than 450 miles south — in 2080 under current climate-change trends.

Winters will be, on average, almost 16 degrees higher and 38.5 percent wetter.

Duluth will have the climate of Oregon, Ohio (just outside Toledo) — nearly 14 degrees warmer in winter and 122.5 percent wetter.

All this is according to an analysis of climate change data published Tuesday in the science journal Nature Communications.

While the underlying science isn't new, the publication of "climatic analogs" for 540 urban areas in North America aims to illustrate for the general public how significantly altered the climate will be without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

University of Maryland researcher Matthew Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, mapped out his findings so people can see what their home will look like in 61 years.

The map includes an option to see how much less climate change's impacts will be if warming is held to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a target laid out in the Paris climate accords, which the U.S. has abandoned.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, for example, would have the climate of Iowa City, Iowa, if the Paris goal is reached. It'd be 7.9 degrees warmer and 35.6 percent wetter in winters.

These climatic analogs likely come as no surprise to Minnesota climate scientists. They've known how the prairie-forest border that defines the state's geography is shifting northward, and that Minnesota is getting warmer and wetter, on average, every year.

One University of Minnesota scientist says the prairie-forest line currently running through St. Cloud could be 300 miles northeast at Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 2100.

Three Minnesota towns broke the state's old annual precipitation record in 2018.

Last year was also the fourth-warmest on record globally, and there are indications 2019 will be even warmer.

The study's authors say most cities aren't prepared for what's to come.

"Decision makers have not formalized climate adaptation plans for a large proportion of major cities," they write, "and existing efforts often are considered insufficient to avoid social, environmental, and economic consequences of climate change."