As the U.N. converges in New York this week for its 2014 Climate Summit, there's been more discussion about how local environments will be hit by global warming if it's left unchecked. A New York Times report suggests that by 2100, a new breed of “environmental refugees” will flee those cities suffering harsh droughts, storms, and heat, and will flock instead to less-affected cities such as Detroit, Portland and even Anchorage.
And, well, things aren't looking particularly good for L.A., either. We brag about our weather, but most climatologists say it's about to get real hot up in here — UCLA research suggests a temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees in SoCal in the next 30 years.
Let's be honest, though. We know you're not actually going to leave L.A. for … Anchorage? No way! But which neighborhoods in L.A. will be most, and least, affected? Where to live if you don't leave?
Dramatic Temperature Jumps
From UCLA's Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, here's a neighborhood look at what could occur in the next 30 years:
Usually, computers measure 100-kilometer squares to assess climate. But the team at UCLA led by Alex Hall, in a study that's the first of its kind, obtained high-res predictions using something called statistical and dynamic downscaling.
They determined that El Sereno, downtown L.A., and Eagle Rock will see sharp increases in the number of hot days exceeding 95 degrees. The San Fernando Valley will be hard hit, with Sylmar, Sunland and Woodland Hills seeing a nearly 100 percent jump in average days per year exceeding 95 degrees.
The best places to stay cool will remain those in the path of coastal winds, like Venice and Westwood. But Watts and Baldwin Hills will also remain relatively cool, the study says, which could make those areas' real estate prices jump.
Sea Level Increases
While not quite as dramatic as the movie Water World, findings released last year by more than a dozen researchers and professors from USC as part of a Sea Grant study predict a sea-level rise of 0.3 to 2.0 feet between 2000 and 2050 and 1.3 to 5.6 feet between 2000 and 2100.
Areas that will be dramatically affected by even a two-foot rise in sea level include the Pacific Palisades beach neighborhoods and the Pacific Coast Highway between roughly Topanga Canyon and Santa Monica, not to mention much of Venice. (Within 100 years, light purple areas shown below would be underwater during severe storms due to the rise in sea level.)
According to USC's report, Venice's beaches will require continual sand deposits to fight off erosion.
The city still pours sand onto Venice Beach, but dramatically reduced the effort in the 1960s, when beach erosion was largely stabilized. But even increasing that practice won't hold back widespread flooding when major storms hit Venice, as happened in January 2010.
If a storm of the 2010 magnitude were to hit Venice in 2050 or 2100, here's what the flooding in Venice, Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey could look like:
Being in a wildfire-prone zone will bring greater risks in the next century thanks to climate change, and California has already seen its three largest fire years on record, scarily grouped together in the past decade.The annual acreage burned since 2000 is almost twice that of the entire period from 1950 to 2000.
If you believe this Harvard study — which uses models from the World Climate Research Program to map mean surface temperatures, wind, and precipitation – those fires weren't a fluke. Southern California can expect a 20 to 30 percent increase in annual acreage burned by 2050, according to the Harvard data.
That means that the dozens of L.A. neighborhoods already inside the L.A. Fire Department’s “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone,” shown below, an area where brush-clearance rules already apply, could be facing a jump in fire risk.
Who lives in this so-called VHFHSZ zone, including 132,000 parcels of land and 60 different canyons? Half the town (we alphabetized it for you):
Baldwin Hills, Bel Air Estates, Beverly Glen, Brentwood, Castellammare, Chatsworth, Eagle Rock, East Los Angeles, Echo Park, El Sereno, Encino, Glassel Park, Granada Hills, Hollywood, Lake View Terrace, Los Feliz, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Mount Olympus, Mount Washington, Pacific Palisades, Pacoima, Palisades Highland, Porter Ranch, San Pedro, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Sunland, Sun Valley, Sylmar, Tarzana, Tujunga, West Hills, Westwood, and Woodland Hills.
Okay, so maybe Anchorage isn't looking so bad after all.