Study: Minneapolis' wide temperature swings make it the most uncomfortable city


Minneapolis is the most uncomfortable city when it comes to temperature – and global warming isn't expected to change that, according to a study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study, conducted by Ken Caldeira of Stanford University's Carnegie Institute of Science, looked at the number of "degree days" 25 major U.S. cities have. That's basically how many days were above or below 65 degrees – the measure for the number of days that may require some type of heating or cooling.

The methodology is pretty complicated and scientific (the Washington Post helps explain the "degree days" measurement), but in the end, the more days where the temperature is around 65 degrees, the more pleasant the climate is in that city.

And the extreme winters and sweaty summers Minnesotans know so well has put Minneapolis as the most uncomfortable city temperature-wise – it has the most number of heating and cooling degree days compared to the other 24 cities highlighted in the study.

Currently, San Diego is the most comfortable city, meaning there are fewer days where heat or air conditioning is needed.

Where are things going?

The study then looks toward the future (2080-2099), using climate-change models to project the number of days heating or cooling is needed for each city.

And guess what: Minneapolis will still be the most uncomfortable city when it comes to temperature, the study found. The number of heating degree days will decrease, but the number of cooling degree days will rise. (So more hot days, less cold days, basically.)

However, San Diego will lose its "most comfortable" title to San Francisco – a city known to have a much cooler climate – decades from now.

Researchers did take a broader look at how climate change will affect the need for heat or air conditioning around the country, noting the number of "degree days" will decrease in the north, but increase in the south.

The rest of the country

By the end of the century – if nothing is done to mitigate climate change – the climate we're used to will be much different, the study says.

Here's what it found:

On East Coast, Washington, D.C., will be similar to the way Las Vegas is today when comparing "degree days." New York City will be similar to present-day Oklahoma City, while Boston will be like today's Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In the Midwest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be like present-day Wichita, Kansas. Visiting Denver, Colorado, in 2099 will feel more like how Raleigh, North Carolina, is today.

Out west, Las Vegas will be more similar to today's Mesa, Arizona. Seattle, Washington, will resemble present-day San Jose, California. Sacramento's climate will shift to be more similar to that of Jacksonville, Florida, while San Francisco is projected to be like how Los Angeles is today.

Caldeira does warn that this is only one prediction model – it looks at climate change if nothing is done to mitigate it. It also only looks at temperature and doesn't take into account other factors, such as cloud cover or precipitation, SFist notes.

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