Boston’s potentially record-setting June heat is a preview of sweltering summers to come, according to a scientist who predicts the area will be as hot as Baltimore toward the end of the century if climate change isn’t halted.
“This is the new world. This is the world that scientists have been warning about for decades, and we’re just seeing the beginning,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, a professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
Fitzpatrick was the lead author of a study in 2019 in the journal Nature Communications that presented a website intended to give people a better feel for how the climate of US and Canadian cities could change by the year 2080.
The website allowed people to input a city and see another city that its climate would resemble in the future. The 540 cities on average would move 528 miles to the south climate-wise, if carbon emissions keep soaring.
The website indicated Boston’s climate could one day be like Rosedale, Maryland, a community in Baltimore County just outside the city of Baltimore.
Fitzpatrick said if people want to know what the climate in Boston could be like in the 2080s, they can drive to Baltimore. But this June they can save themselves the trip. “Baltimore’s climate has come to you in 2021. You don’t need to go anywhere,” he said.
Boston, which is in the second day of a three-day heat wave, may close out the month by tying or exceeding the monthly average temperature record of 73.4. (The monthly average temperature is calculated using daily highs and lows.)
It turns out that’s about the average for Baltimore for June. According to preliminary climate data from the National Weather Service, the usual June monthly average in Baltimore is 73.5.
“It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that we get heat like [Boston is getting] in June down here,” Cody Ledbetter, a meteorologist in the Baltimore/Washington forecast office of the weather service said.
Boston’s June appears likely to feature a total of nine days where temperatures have reached 90 or more. That’s “not that abnormal” in Baltimore, said Ledbetter.
Fitzpatrick noted that the monthly average is just that, an average, and individual Junes in the late 21st century could turn out to be even hotter.
“I think it’s safe to say the record month you’re having ... is going to be normal” for people in 2080, Fitzpatrick said.
For children who are 10 years old then, “That’s just going to be Boston for them. It’s going to be normal for them,” he said. The idea of cooler Junes when you might need a sweater on some mornings will be a “story their grandparents used to tell.”
Martin Finucane can be reached at email@example.com.