North America

Climate Data Projections

The climate science community sources a suite of models to inform decision makers on future climate. Among the most widely used are GCMs (Global Climate Models or Earth System Models) that capture the non-linear complexity of the Earth to represent changes across the climate system for key processes and contexts. Future climate projections are presented in three main forms, multi-model ensemble, range of climate models, and deviation from historical baseline. Climate Change Knowledge Portal (CCKP) allows users to explore further climate indices derived from GCMs used in IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) report by different timeframes, statistics, emission scenarios, and models in map and charts.  Data can be presented per individual models or through the multi-model ensemble. CCKP prioritizes analysis using multi-model ensembles as they are more robust and have proven to be most successful in representing expected changes. A detailed metadata can be found here.

According to the IPCC AR5 and Turn Down the Heat report:

  • A robust drying of 15–45 percent is projected under RCP8.5 for the southeast, west, and north central North America.
  • While previous long-term droughts in southwest North America arose from natural causes, climate models project that this region will undergo progressive aridification as part of a general drying and poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zones driven by rising GHGs. 
  • Projected changes in soil moisture from the CMIP5 models also show substantial seasonal variation. For example, soil moisture changes in the North American midlatitudes, coupled with projected warming, increases the strength of land–atmosphere coupling during spring and summer under RCP8.5. 
  • The number of frost days declines in all regions while significant increases in tropical nights are seen in southeastern North America. 
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Use the menu above to visualize different climate projection layers and chart data. Click on the map to get location specific data.