The amount of work people can do in the summer compared to the rest of the year has dropped to 90 percent globally over the past several decades, according to the the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But peak summer work capacity will likely fall even further — down to 80 percent by 2050, according to a new study by NOAA climate scientists.
The study, published on the website of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, was conducted by three NOAA scientists using a computer simulation of the climate in the near and distant future, which takes into account current conditions and variables including carbon emissions, cloud physics, and precipitation, among others.
In the worst case scenario, New York City would suffer more heat stress than anywhere on Earth today
The computer model looked at several internationally-accepted scenarios of the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are projected to rise over the coming years.
One scenario projects emissions stabilize and fall as the globe switches to renewable fuels. Even in that moderate case, researchers found that by 2050, "heat stress," or possible human health consequences from working outside or in extremely hot facilities, would reduce work capacity during the summer to 80 percent of what it is during the rest of the year.
In the worst case scenario, which would involve a massive uptick in emissions from fossil fuel usage, NOAA scientists found that by 2200, summer work capacity could fall below 40 percent, and New York City would suffer more heat stress than anywhere else does on Earth right now.