Endless summer: Grim prediction for planet by 2100

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

A new study has warned the globe faces shrinking winters and summers that last for half the year by the end of the century.

As the world struggles to tackle global warming and bring down carbon emissions, scientists continue to paint a bleak future for the planet's climate systems.

In the 60 years leading up to 2011, summer has increased by 17 days on average across the globe, according to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Looking at data sets pertaining to northern hemisphere temperatures, researchers said even if the warming trend is arrested, summer conditions will continue to lengthen in time. On our current trajectory, it would feel like summer for half the calendar year by 2100.

The study by Chinese researchers points to summer lasting a lot longer at the turn of the century. Source: Getty
The study by Chinese researchers points to summer lasting a lot longer at the turn of the century. Source: Getty

"Even if the current warming rate does not accelerate, changes in seasons will still be exacerbated in the future," the study said.

"Under the business-as-usual scenario, summer is projected to last nearly half a year, but winter less than two months by 2100.

"The changing seasonal clock signifies disturbed agriculture seasons and rhythm of species activities, more frequent heatwaves, storms and wildfires, amounting to increased risks to humanity."

The study relied on computer modelling and split the year's four seasons into four percentiles, with any temperature above the 75th percentile (the top quarter) of temperature averages during the 60-year period of 1952-2011, being recognised as summer.

Over the decades, summer-like conditions have steadily grown.

Onsets and lengths of the four seasons in 1952, 2011, 2050, and 2100 inn a graph.
Onsets and lengths of the four seasons in 1952, 2011, 2050, and 2100. Summer conditions are projected to gradually take up a greater portion of the year. Source: Geophysical Research Letter

Changing seasons impacting on ecosystems

Researchers warned the change is having a wide-reaching impact on agriculture, ecosystems and animals, with some species less able to adapt in such a short time. The study also warned mosquito-borne diseases will become more prevalent.

"Temporal and spatial mismatches among organisms are also gradually exaggerating because not all species cope with seasonal changes," researchers wrote.

"In addition, tropical mosquitoes carrying viruses are likely to expand northward [in the northern hemisphere] and bring about explosive outbreaks during longer and hotter summers, especially when introduced into regions without previous occurrence."

A January analysis showed Australia is in danger of falling afoul of its emissions reduction targets under the global Paris agreement unless the government adopts more ambitious emissions reduction targets.

Meanwhile as Europe and the US lead the charge in tackling global warming, there is a growing threat Australia will face tariffs on carbon intensive exports due to insufficient domestic action on climate change. Such sanctions could have a devastating impact on Australia's raw material trade.

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