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Volume 11 Issue 2, February 2021

Global urban climate projections

Climate projections for built landscapes are needed to project risks from climate change in urban settings. In this issue, Lei Zhou and colleagues use an urban climate model emulator with a multi-model archive to estimate that many cities will warm over 4 °C during local summer in a high-emissions scenario. Decreases in near-global relative humidity highlight the mitigation potential of green infrastructure and more efficient urban cooling mechanisms.

See Zhao et al.

Image: Michael Vincent. Cover Design: Erin Dewalt.


  • The ocean connects all corners of the Earth. It supports life, and we need to better understand and support it to ensure a prosperous future.



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  • For its green transition, the EU plans to fund the development of digital twins of Earth. For these twins to be more than big data atlases, they must create a qualitatively new Earth system simulation and observation capability using a methodological framework responsible for exceptional advances in numerical weather prediction.

    • Peter Bauer
    • Bjorn Stevens
    • Wilco Hazeleger
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Research Highlights

    • Bronwyn Wake
    Research Highlight
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News & Views

  • The combination of highly resolved climatic and genomic data allows assessment of putative maladaptation of populations to climate change and can identify high-risk populations. Now, a study that accounts for migration and dispersal shows high maladaptation of a North American tree species in the northern and eastern distribution range.

    • Christian Rellstab
    News & Views
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  • Assessing future climate-related financial risk requires knowledge of how the climate will change at various spatial and temporal scales. This Perspective examines the demand for climate information from business and finance communities, and the extent to which climate models can meet these demands.

    • Tanya Fiedler
    • Andy J. Pitman
    • Sarah E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick
  • Aerosol–climate interactions are important in the Arctic, but they exhibit large spatiotemporal variability. This Perspective argues for community-driven model and observational improvement, emphasizing the need to understand natural aerosol processes and quantify how their baseline is changing.

    • Julia Schmale
    • Paul Zieger
    • Annica M. L. Ekman
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Matters Arising

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  • Renewable energy relies on climate fields that will be altered by warming, and the impacts on the energy system are estimated for eight renewable energy technologies. Bioenergy sees the largest global increases but high uncertainty; other types see small global change but robust local trends.

    • David E. H. J. Gernaat
    • Harmen Sytze de Boer
    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
  • GHG mitigation is not likely to be detectable in global mean temperature before mid-century. However, a simple climate emulator and an Earth system model ensemble suggest that strong mitigation greatly decreases the likelihood of high rates of 20-year warming over the next two decades.

    • Christine M. McKenna
    • Amanda C. Maycock
    • Katarzyna B. Tokarska
  • Earth’s energy budget depends on the global sea surface temperature pattern, which is currently counteracting warming more strongly than expected in the future. Including this pattern effect in projections causes committed warming with present-day forcing to exceed the Paris goals, implying less leeway than anticipated.

    • Chen Zhou
    • Mark D. Zelinka
    • Minghuai Wang
  • The Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation are modes of Northern Hemisphere climate variability with high temporal and spatial correlation. With strong warming, climate models suggest their link breaks down due to a divergent response to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and stratosphere.

    • Mostafa E. Hamouda
    • Claudia Pasquero
    • Eli Tziperman
  • The intertropical convergence zone is predicted to narrow under climate change with large uncertainties about its location. Analysis with CMIP6 models shows a zonally varying response, with northward shift over east Africa and the Indian Ocean and southward shift in east Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

    • Antonios Mamalakis
    • James T. Randerson
    • Efi Foufoula-Georgiou
  • An urban climate model emulator has been used with a multi-model archive to estimate that in a high-emissions scenario, many cities will warm by over 4 K during local summers. Near-global relative humidity decreases highlight the potential for green infrastructure and more efficient urban cooling mechanisms.

    • Lei Zhao
    • Keith Oleson
    • Michael Oppenheimer
  • Genomics and environmental modelling are integrated to assess past and future changes in Arctic charr populations in response to changing climate. Southern population vulnerability suggests climate change may lead to northward shifts and the loss of important life-history variation.

    • K. K. S. Layton
    • P. V. R. Snelgrove
    • I. R. Bradbury
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  • Avoided deforestation is an important part of many climate mitigation strategies, yet monitoring is needed for enforcement. Subscriptions to deforestation alerts lowered the probability of deforestation in Africa by 18%, generating a value of US$149–696 million based on the social cost of carbon.

    • Fanny Moffette
    • Jennifer Alix-Garcia
    • Amy H. Pickens


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