A new study by researchers at the University of Reading reports that very small changes to the climate in a few parts of the world can be more apparent than more pronounced changes elsewhere.
A research team from the University of Reading analyzed the way climate change has already modified the rainfall patterns and temperatures globally, to such an extent that people living at the end of the 19th century would not know. Most importantly, the team then compared these changes with climate fluctuations experienced earlier in several parts of the world.
In the study, it was found that mid-latitude countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, were experiencing increasingly evident changes in temperature than tropical regions. However, such changes were being obscured by the fact that in these countries, the weather is more unpredictable.
In contrast, the slighter changes in tropical countries were determined to be the most evident and may have a wider effect on society since people have got used to a more settled climate in general.
These findings are important as it shows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to adapting to climate change. Climate change impacts in some countries are being hidden by their own changeable weather. People in these countries are already used to coping with swings between hot and cold or wet and dry conditions, meaning even sizable changes to their climate may be less obvious.
Ed Hawkins, Study Lead Author, Professor, and Climate Scientist, University of Reading and National Centre for Atmospheric Science
Hawkins continued, “Alternatively, countries with steady climates are more likely to notice their warming climate, despite the changes being less dramatic.”
“Where climate change is smaller, we run the risk of thinking it is insignificant. We need to realize where climate change might be hiding in plain sight because this tends to be regions which are more vulnerable and less able to adapt,” concluded Hawkins.
An example of such noticeable changes might be temperatures in the warmest months of the year exceeding the limits that societies have become familiar with over the last century.
Manoj Joshi, Study Co-Author and Professor, University of East Anglia
Researchers from the University of Reading, the University of East Anglia, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Chile, University of Melbourne, and the University of Oxford contributed to the study. The research was published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal from AGU.