Climate change could darken cities around the world due to power outages, a new study from John Hopkins University concluded.
The team examined various cities around the world, in order to determine which areas were most likely to experience power outages from rising global temperatures. A computer model was developed which incorporated historical data, as well as trends toward future storm activity.
"We provide insight into how power systems along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts may be affected by climate changes including which areas should be most concerned and which ones are unlikely to see substantial change," Seth Guikema, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, said.
Climatologists are uncertain how global warming will affect the frequency or severity of hurricanes. Therefore, Guikema and his team examined a wide range of possible future scenarios in their climate model. Each of the scenarios presented varying levels of risk for power outages in the future.
Analysis of the model could help urban planners and community leaders plan for future climate change in their local areas.
New Orleans was found to be the tenth most-threatened city in the United States for power outages caused by climate change. Next on the list is Miami, Florida, followed by Providence, Rhode Island. Tampa, Florida is seventh in the Top Ten list. Another city in the Sunshine State, Orlando, was ranked as the sixth most-threatened U.S. city. Number five on the list was Hartford, Connecticut. Virginia Beach, Virginia is number four on the list, just behind Jacksonville, Florida. Philadelphia is second on the Top Ten list. The City of Brotherly Love, with its population of 1,553,000 people, is located on the Delaware River. New York City, the most-populous urban region in the nation, topped the list.
"If I'm mayor of Miami, we know about hurricanes, we know about outages and our system has been adapted for it. But if I'm mayor of Philadelphia, I might say, 'Whoa, we need to be doing more about this,'" Guikema stated in a university press release.
Hurricane impacts would likely vary according to city location, the study found. As global warming fuels the powerful storms, cities that rarely experience hurricanes could become targets, leading to blackouts.
From July 13 to 17, 1977, New York City experienced a blackout that led to widespread looting and arson. This event was triggered by lightning strikes and poorly-maintained equipment in the city power grid.
Simulation of tropical cyclone impacts to the U.S. power system under climate change scenarios was published in the journal Climatic Change.