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Press Release

March 21, 2022

Probable Futures Unveils a New Volume in Global Climate Maps

Precipitation Data Illustrates How Climate Instability Is Reshaping the World’s Water System

BOSTON – Probable Futures, an accessible and compelling digital experience that seeks to reframe the conversation on climate change, has released a second volume: Water. Visitors can explore the maps and educational resources to better understand and internalize local, national, and global precipitation trends.

The robust climate model data underpinning these maps of precipitation—which were processed and analyzed by an experienced team of scientists at Woodwell Climate Research Center—paint a stark picture of the scenarios to come as the global temperature rises. In addition to more intense storms, climate models make clear that more uncertainty and volatility lie ahead. For example, roughly 30 percent of the global population currently lives in areas where the historical “1-in-100-year storm” occurs twice as frequently as in the late 20th century—and by 3°C of warming, that proportion will climb to around 80 percent. Conversely, many locations should expect more hot, dry days, which can be particularly challenging for industries like agriculture. By 3°C of warming, nearly half of all cropland is projected to experience on average at least 30 more hot, dry days per year than in a 0.5°C world.

“Climate change is reshaping both local precipitation patterns and the global water system—and everyone on Earth will be affected,” said Alison Smart, Executive Director of Probable Futures. “It may seem counterintuitive, but knowing that the future is less predictable is a valuable forecast. Communities need to be more resilient, adaptable, and prepared. It’s within our power today to prepare for the events that are probable and prevent those with irreversible impacts.”

That preparedness includes a range of resilience-building strategies, from thoughtfully designed infrastructure and regulations to the ultimate goal of reaching zero emissions.

“Civilization was built on a stable climate. Despite increasing awareness of climate change, assumptions of stability still underpin almost all decision-making. The latest installment in Probable Futures gives leaders, communities, and individuals a deeper understanding of how and why the climate is changing along with vivid insight into how those changes will manifest in communities around the world. Our hope is that these tools can improve everyone’s understanding of risks, including both outcomes we must prepare for and ones we can still avoid,” said Spencer Glendon, Founder of Probable Futures.

Dag Lohmann, CEO of KatRisk, a company that develops and builds catastrophe risk models, praised the Probable Futures platform. “The existence of a high-quality resource like this is good for the world and the risk industry. It helps people understand the scope and scale of changes, and increases transparency which raises the bar for vendors of climate insight, all of whom rely on the models Probable Futures is making public.”

The importance of transparency and accessibility of climate model data was also the topic of Glendon’s most recent equinox letter, distributed yesterday to the Probable Futures community.

Water is the second volume on the Probable Futures platform following Heat, released in 2021, which introduced a guided journey depicting the earth’s warming scenarios at both global and local scales. Before the end of the year, a third volume featuring drought will complete the set. Probable Futures will continue to add content, including updating existing maps as additional model results become available and adding new maps across all three volumes.

Accompanying the maps and educational content is a growing library of stories contributed by reputable news sources and experts. In this library, users can read about the tangible and life-altering impacts of climate instability, like the effect of too much—or too little—precipitation on agricultural economies that rely on predictable seasons of precipitation.