Climate predictions for Frederick

Climate predictions for Frederick.

To better understand what the climate of Frederick County will feel like in 2080, one might want to take a trip to Greenville, Mississippi.

A new study in journal Nature Communications mapped out 540 urban areas in North America, including Frederick, to forecast how climates will shift as mean global temperatures increase.

Lead author Matthew Fitzpatrick, associate professor at University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, and Robert Dunn, professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, calculated the predicted climates of the different areas based on if emissions continued to increase or if they were reduced. They also looked at 27 different models to determine where an area’s climate might shift.

“We wanted to show people what future climate might be like where they live, and to do that, we found the location in North America that has that location,” Fitzpatrick said.

So if emissions stayed the same, Frederick would have a climate, on average, similar to Greenville, Mississippi, which is 7.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and 3.6 percent drier in the summer and 12.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and 64.5 percent wetter in winter, according to Fitzpatrick’s mapping application.

If emissions were reduced, Frederick’s climate, on average, would be closer to Sikeston, Missouri, which would be 6.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and 5.3 percent wetter in the summer. Which means even if policies are put in place to address emissions, climates are still going to shift, the authors noted in the study.

Based on the 27 models, the comparable climates ranged from Wichita Falls, Texas to Cleveland, Mississippi to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for current emissions.

“The goal of the study was to try to translate these abstract, descriptive forecasts into something that’s more local and more personally relevant to people,” Fitzpatrick said.

Part of the misunderstanding comes from a disconnect between the science community and the general public, Fitzpatrick said. Bigger abstract data, like when someone says climate change will increase globally 3 degrees Celcius can be harder to grasp or visualize, he said. It also makes it harder to understand how climate change will affect a person.

There will be places with more drastic shifts, like Anchorage, Alaska, which will see a climate similar to Powell River, Canada and bring an increase of 24 degrees Fahrenheit and 359.6 percent more precipitation during winter, Fitzpatrick said. He said he did not find most of the shifts surprising.

“I think, like a lot people, I was most surprised by where I live now, which is Cumberland, Maryland, to see how much its climate is predicted to change in the future,” he said. “So it was shocking to me because it’s personal and relevant to me.”

A major risk with the shifting climates is the loss of organisms, from plants to insects to animals, he said.

If the climates do change, it is likely that current species of vegetation, insects and animals will move to areas that have climates that they need. So Maryland could see new species coming from southern areas, said Kevin Sellner, a member of the county’s Sustainability Commission.

Because the temperatures will be increasing over a 60-year period, Sellner does not predict there will be a massive die off, although there could be a gradual loss of a plant species if it is already at the end of its temperature range and cannot reproduce. Instead, he thinks there’ll be a shift from one species to a different one.

That could change with more intense storms, which are also already predicted to come as part of climate change, followed by longer periods of drought. That would put more stress on plants and animals already adjusting to warmer summers and winters.

“If that occurs, that’s going to exacerbate, that’s going to increase the likelihood of potential mass die offs,” he said.

Sellner’s expertise is in water, and the warmer climate could have adverse effects on the Chesapeake Bay, he said. When it is warmer, fish need to breathe more. At the same time, the water dissolves less oxygen. That means fish will have more stress on them and a harder time fighting off diseases.

“It’s a serious concern, down the road, is how are we going to threaten those valuable fish stocks we have out there,” Sellner said.

Warmer waters are also breeding grounds for different bacteria, including Vibrio. There’s a type of Vibrio that can cause gangrene-like and may lead to death, Sellner said.

But Fitzpatrick has not lost hope, which is why he and Dunn also accounted for shifts if emissions were reduced.

“So yeah, there’s absolutely things that can be done, and following the agreement, the Paris Climate Accord, would be a big step in the direction to get this under control,” he said.

In Maryland, people can choose to purchase electricity from environmentally-friendly companies that use reusable energy sources. But there’s also a need for policies, like the Paris Agreement.

“We all contribute in some way to the problem, so I think we can all contribute to the solutions,” Fitzpatrick said.

This also means investing in new technology, Sellner said. Resources need to go toward figuring out how to better trap greenhouse gases when burning fossil fuels and make it affordable. Also, toward “cleaner” energy sources, like nuclear energy.

States and municipalities, like Frederick County, are setting their own policies to help address emissions, but it still requires a commitment from the federal government, Sellner said.

“[Frederick is] committed to shifting over to non-fossil fuels fairly quickly, which is impressive, as is the state of Maryland, so we live in like a mini-California almost,” Sellner said. “Where we’re trying to move forward with some responsible, progressive ideas in terms of shifting from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels so we should be proud as Marylanders to continue that effort.”

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at

(30) comments


I do not believe in all these pseudoscientific predictions. Seriously, who knows? They would better use mockingbird essay in their dissertations. This theme is so huge and arguable that one article could not ex[lain even half of it. At least I think so.

Boyce Rensberger

You write as if this article is the only thing you have ever read on the subject. Did you know there are about 40 years of scientific papers on the topic? Thousands of research studies. The news media have been covering this topic since the 1980s. You might want to read up on the subject before leaping to your "pseudoscience" verdict.


Me thinks I'm reading gross conjecture/supposition.


When was the last time the ponds froze over enough to go ice skating? Even out into the Bay occasionally. They used to every year. And sledding in Winter was a yearly event. I think it was probably back in the sixties. And two one hundred year floods in 3 years in Ellicott City. It used to be that getting an inch of rain at one time was unusual. Now 2 or 3 is fairly common. It rained constantly last Fall, when sunny and 70’s is our usual September/October weather. Nor’easters and Hurricanes, Fires, Floods, Droughts in unusual places, the last five years the warmest in History. And the Green New Deal? You mean like it was just two long lifetimes ago? We’ve polluted the Earth in just the past 120 years or so, we’re destroying the atmosphere that protects our environment. Millions of years to create, 120 years to destroy, something has caused the acceleration of that normal cycle. It is us. 🌊🌪🔥⛈🌬💨


I recall skating on ice on the Bay in 76 or 77. We went with the boy scouts and I was one of the few with ice skates.




Anyone who subscribes to the theory that life as we know it is about to come to an end due to “climate change” needs to reexamine their thought process. First off, yes the mean temperature of the earth is in a constant state of flux just as it has since the beginning of time. This will continue to be the case and it is a fool’s folly to think that mankind can somehow pick an “ideal” temperature and then control and hold the earth to this value into infinity. Personally if we are going to build some type of weather machine I would prefer the more useful and old-fashioned rain machine. One has only to examine their own daily experiences to come to the conclusion that there is nothing to worry about. At my house the temperature has varied by 27 degrees just in the past 48 hours yet life has gone on as normal. Sure I may have had to grab some different clothes but that is called adaption and this is where mankind excels. Now before someone calls me silly because the climate change activists are talking about long term mean temperatures (climate) and not short term changes (weather) let me say this. Look up the average mean temperature in Miami and then look at the average for Buffalo, NY. You will see that the numbers differ by many degrees yet man exists in both locations with relative ease due to adaption to local conditions. And so it will be if Earth’s temperature rises by a mere degree or two. It will happen over the long term with little or no fanfare and man will carry on as usual. Some will migrate to the new areas that become more hospitable and others will leave areas that become less hospitable. This is way it has always been and this is how it will always be. Open your eyes, use your brain, and ask what's the REAL agenda behind this false alarm.

Boyce Rensberger

I agree that Earth has gone through major climate changes during the 200,000 years that our species has been in existence. Enough of us survived the changes that we are here today. Of course, many had to die in the process.

As one who understands and respects 21st century climate science, I wince when ignorant zealots say we're all gonna die, or that "life as we know it" is going to end. For most of us in the rich areas (like Miami, which is building raised roads to stay above sea level), that won't be so true. Money and good engineering will make life just fine. But for people in the coastal areas of poor countries, life will be chaotic and painful.

Nobody disputes that sea level is rising. Some low-lying South Pacific island nations have already been evacuated for good. At the current rate, one third of Bangladesh will be underwater in a few decades. That means tens of millions of people will have to go somewhere else. You think the world's refugee problems are bad now?!!

Hell, even in a mostly rich place like Oxford, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, rising sea level now floods people's yards and streets every few weeks. People are spending $50,000 or so to have their houses lifted three or four feet and a new foundation built underneath. My cousin doesn't have that kind of money, so when the highest tides are expected, he takes up the first-floor rugs and lets two or three inches of water flood through his house.

Changes in temperature, growing seasons and rainfall will mean most crop species will have to move elsewhere, sometimes 500 miles away. That'll be hard on many farmers, but they will not die as a result. Some will go broke. Some will kill themselves, but most of them and most of us will survive.


We are only one species on this planet. We are causing the extinction of many other species from a number of factors including climate change. I certainly do not intend to pay the costs for moving all those who live in Miami, NYC or anywhere else that goes under water because of climate change.


“ is a fool’s folly to think that mankind can somehow pick an “ideal” temperature and then control and hold the earth to this value into infinity.”

Who thinks that?


Many ifs, ands, and buts, but the telling statement here is "even if policies are put in place to address emissions,climates are still going to shift"; and the good news is the US is reducing harmful emissions but the bad news is the 2 biggest polluters continue to grow the harmful emissions they emit....and while we are at it , why are we still burning trash in is the dirtiest form and most expensive form of energy generation...unfortunately O'Malley placed this form of generation on the list of Tier One Green so they are now subsidized by the taxpayers....he did that one day after receiving a check for $100K from Covanta ,which operates the Dickerson Burner... its all about the MONEY!


Much truth here especially about burning trash. Burning wood, biomass, is another bone I have to pick - Europe loves to burn trees, including US ones, as "carbon-neutral" energy for electricity production, it's a sham:

Boyce Rensberger

It's a good story. Thanks, Heather.

Some commenters below remind me of people who can find a Bible verse to support any side of any controversy. If you're not savvy enough to read the caveats--weasel words, if you prefer--that are in almost all good science stories, you're not thinking too clearly about the matters you claim to be interested in.

Do we still have to explain to people that weather is not climate? That climate models are not used to forecast weather, nor vice versa? That the U.S. is just 2 percent of Earth's surface, so that what happens here does not represent the other 98 percent of the planet? That while we have been having extreme cold this winter, Australia (about the same size as the Lower 48) has been having record heat in their summer?

It's getting tiresome.


I just noticed something about the map. Greenville, Mississippi appears to be in Arkansas.


Ill be 91 years when this happens .


This is just more of the Liberal, Left, Dem and Socialist Agenda. Where's Al Gore when you need him...LOL


I feel like tge temperature are getting cooler rather warmer, especially last summer, its not usually cool in and rainy in July, but hot and dry. Last August felt like early May instead of August wet and cool. And where is spring it use to come by late march now the past couple of years it only get warm in may.


That’s not very scientific. Right? Where you live is not how you gather a global view of climate change.


I wrote something similar to another article about climate change but here's my take.

The Earth will survive all this, the question is, will our society and species survive. In parallel is the question of whether other life will survive, which I can answer yes, some life will. But we depend on an enormous network of creatures on this planet we take for granted to keep the food supply and atmospheric gases (oxygen vs CO2) working to keep us alive.

Humanity evolved to swell into its current population during a relatively stable period of Earth's climate. Even minor diversions caused hardship, see the "Little Ice Age".

The best analogy I've seen about climate change is that it's like Earth's climate is becoming diabetic.

Pre-diabetes is one of those conditions you rarely notice or suspect the worst unless your doctor pulls a metabolic panel blood test and notices a few parameters out of whack (see: CO2 levels, average temperature increase, worsening droughts and alternating drought & floods)

Once the disease progresses, some permanent injury occurs, and at that point life will NEVER be the same. Blood sugar control starts to slip and your glucose levels rise consistently, your lifestyle must transform to abate the worst of it and the moment you switch back into old habits, blood sugar goes out of control again. Your life is never the same.

See: Arctic sea ice disappearing, rain now occurs in Greenland, polar vortex instability has been consistently happening for a few years now, "super"-hurricanes with slightly altered behavior (slower moving & dumping more rain), heralds the era in which the truly irreversible "diabetic" phase of Earth's climate has begun.

Earth's climate has changed a lot in the past, this is true. Humanity did not bear the population it does now under those conditions. It takes thousands of years for major climate shifts, and the varying systems & feedback mechanisms (ocean circulation, changes in foliage and landmass, etc) to work themselves out. Earth's made some quick changes in climate before (see: Younger Dryas) but it took a thousand years to recover.

I'm hopeful though, we have the ability to adapt with our technological prowess. We have more than enough energy to adapt. So long as we're burning fossil fuels with reckless abandon and leaving its CO2 waste in the atmosphere, it's like a T2 diabetic eating an 80% sugar diet.


My question is why, yet again the FNP is late on reporting something that was in other publications a month ago? The cheapest way to fight climate change is to eliminate incentives governments give to people for having children. Population growth is the greatest factor of the human impact on climate change.


Looks like I will have to move back to northern New York by 2080. Being only 21 now, I'll be 81 then.

You do realize any forecast will have to be modified, don't you?


In 1989 they said disaster by 2000. No doubt, this is not different.


To be fair, they said entire nations will be wiped off the face of the Earth if the trend is not reversed by 2000, I see that as "trend must be reversed by 2000" but no date given for when these nations will be wiped away.

From what I've read, that wasn't too far off. Maybe 10-15 years too early (2010-ish, e.g. shows one of the tipping points may have passed as of 2014).


I’m sorry, but the “models” are to be able to predict the future weather 60 years from now? They can’t get it right 6 hours from now.


The article didn't mention weather.


Today's climate is tomorrow's weather.


Tell it to Bob, not me. I already know the difference between climate and weather.


Where in the world is Boyce? He’d set the record straight.
On a lighter note, NASA Scientists release a paper 2 years ago saying that there is a 97 percent chance of a mini-iceage. The kicker is that it is not caused by man, but by the lack of solar sunspots.


I only told it to you, public, because you mentioned the article didn't mention "weather," and weather and climate are directly related. One today is the other tomorrow.


You think that will stop them, Bob?

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