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Summer in the U.S. could be 8 degrees hotter in 2100 – with some cities feeling more like the Middle East

Weather extremes strike across U.S.
Weather extremes strike across U.S. 01:16

Cities across the U.S. could be an average of eight degrees hotter by 2100. In about 78 years, 247 U.S. cities could feel like an entire part of the country – or world – found researchers at Climate Central, a nonprofit that researches climate change.

The independent group of scientists and communicators analyzed the changing climate and how it will affect people's lives. They found 16 U.S. cities could see summer temperatures equivalent to the Middle East by 2100. Other cities could see temperatures that reflect locations 437 miles to their south. 

Chicago is projected to warm by 9.1 degrees Fahrenheit, feeling more like Montgomery, Alabama.

New York is projected to warm by 7.6 degrees, with summers expected to feel more like Columbia, South Carolina.

Houston is projected to warm by 6.4 degrees, feeling like Lahore, Pakistan, while Phoenix could rise 7.2 degrees, feeling like Al Mubarraz, Saudi Arabia.

Mitchell, South Dakota, is projected to warm the most – by 11.1 degrees – and it is expected to feel more like Wichita Falls, Texas.

The hottest average temperatures of summer days were analyzed. The researchers didn't incorporate humidity, which contributes to how uncomfortable summer heat can feel. 

"The Earth is warming because the greenhouse gasses we've emitted, mainly by burning fossil fuels, collect in our atmosphere and act like a blanket, trapping heat," Climate Central spokesperson Peter Girard told CBS News via email. "The blanket gets denser and traps more heat as we add more pollution to it, which is why summer temperatures in cities around the U.S. have been climbing. And they'll keep climbing until we stop contributing more pollution to that heat-trapping blanket."

Extreme heat and longer heat waves can lead to illness or death, Climate Central says. With less cooling at night due to climate change, vulnerable individuals, the elderly, outdoor workers and people with chronic diseases, can experience more heat stress.

"Summer heat will impact health. Working outside, playing sports and exercising, or living without air conditioning won't just be uncomfortable, they'll be dangerous," Girard said. "Millions of Americans are already adapting their lives to avoid midday heat, and millions more are struggling to stay safely cool. Those realities will become more and more common as summer temperatures rise."

Extreme heat can lead to higher risks of heat stroke, extreme heat makes air quality worse – especially in cities, Girard added

But climate change doesn't just affect health. It can make air quality and pollution worse, lead to more wildfires, floods and rising seas, and worsen allergies, among other things, Climate Central says. It can also have an impact on mental health as the warming climate can lead to more catastrophic weather events, which are physically and mentally difficult to recover from.

Climate change solutions can also positively affect human health. Climate Central suggests planting trees, which lower carbon dioxide and purify air, driving an electric car, which reduces emissions and improves air quality; and composting, which also lowers carbon dioxide and improves soil and crop health.

Girard says as long as pollution builds up in our atmosphere, temperatures will keep rising. But climate change is more than just excess heat.

"This analysis didn't explore other impacts of climate change, but more intense rainfall is another impact that American cities are already seeing," he said. "Because a warming atmosphere can hold more moisture, many places experience heavier rain – and higher risks of flash flooding – than they used to even 50 years ago."

And for most Americans, winter warming as well. "That hurts winter sports and local economies, but warming winters also disrupt growing season and stress some crops – especially fruit trees – and expand ranges for common allergens, and pests like mosquitoes and ticks," he said. 

Cities across the U.S. and Europe have experienced several heat waves this summer. In July, some U.S. cities saw triple-digit temperatures and warnings about elevated fire conditions and heat illnesses. That same month, Britain recorded its first temperature over the 40 degrees Celsius mark (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

On Wednesday, CBS Boston meteorologist and executive weather producer Terry Eliasen said more extreme heat was expected in the area, just a little over a week after it experienced a seven-day heat wave.

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