climate change

Summers Could Last Half the Year by the End of This Century: Study

A recent study examined how climate change is fueling significant changes in the pattern and duration of Earth's seasons

In an aerial view from a drone, geothermal plants are seen near the receding shores of the Salton sea on February 13, 2021 near Calipatria, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

Summers in the Northern Hemisphere could last nearly six months by the year 2100 if global warming continues unchecked, according to a recent study that examined how climate change is affecting the pattern and duration of Earth's seasons.

The study, published last month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that climate change is making summers hotter and longer while shrinking the three other seasons. Scientists say the irregularities could have a range of serious implications, affecting human health and agriculture to the environment.

"This is the biological clock for every living thing," said the study's lead author, Yuping Guan, a physical oceanographer at the State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "People argue about a temperature rise of 2 degrees or 3 degrees, but global warming changing the seasons is something everyone can understand."

Winters, on average, shortened from 76 to 73 days, and the spring and autumn seasons similarly contracted. On average, the spring seasons shrank from 124 days to 115 days, and autumns shortened from 87 days to 82 days.

The scientists used the findings to build a model to project how the seasons might change in the future. They discovered that if the pace of climate change continues unmitigated, summers in the Northern Hemisphere could last nearly six months, while winters could span less than two months.

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