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Oct 09, 2013 04:30 PM EDT

Extreme Climate Change by 2047 Expected to Hit Tropics First and Hardest (SEE MAP)

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If greenhouse emissions continue to escalate at the rate they currently are, most of the planet will heat up to levels as high as they have ever been by the year 2047, the New York Times reported.

With a margin of error either plus or minus five years, scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa estimate the global climate will be higher than it ever was at any point from 1860 to 2005.

In other words, said study lead author Camilo Mora, "the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past," for any given geographical area.

"Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced," Dr. Mora told the Times. "What we're saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm."

Mora and his colleagues published their work online Wednesday in the current issue of the journal Nature. The group of researchers also predicted the tropics will be affected by the extreme climate change first.

The map below shows predicted climate change correlating with different dates. Photo: Camilo Mora/Nature.
The map below shows predicted climate change correlating with different dates. Photo: Camilo Mora/Nature.

When looking into the future, even the most sophisticated climate models, used by Mora's team, are not always accurate. The models, however, are the best way to forecast future conditions if those in the present do not change.

The researchers said the extreme climate change could be delayed by about 20 to 25 years if immediate change is made across the globe to cut greenhouse emissions. While that may not seem like a great deal of time, the scientists said it would buy valuable years for humans to adapt and for technology to develop that would help further cut emissions.

According to Scientific American, the paper concludes by saying the tropical areas of the world will be least prepared for the extreme climate change because a diverse amount of animal species live in those environments. With biodiversity, many of the world's lowest-income nations are in tropical areas.

"This suggests that any progress to decrease the rate of ongoing climate change will require a bigger commitment from developed countries to decrease their emissions but will also require more extensive funding of social and conservation programs in developing countries to minimize the impacts of climate change," the authors wrote.

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