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So, you think Florida summers are toasty now?

Imagine temperatures 5 to 7 degrees higher - and a climate unlike any that now exists on Earth.

If global warming continues at the current pace, according to an alarming study released Monday, it could boil away Florida's climate by the end of this century and replace it with conditions that are warmer, drier and unknown in today's world.

"We see the disappearance of certain climates and the emergence of novel climates," said Jack Williams, the study's lead author and a geographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in South Florida, you see yourself highlighted with a bull's eye."

Among the likely consequences in this area: blistering summer temperatures, less rain, rising sea levels and ecological changes that are difficult to predict but could be profound.

The study, peer-reviewed and published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is one of the first to predict local affects of global warming.

It found that novel - previously unseen - combinations of temperatures and precipitation could prevail in 12 percent to 39 percent of the world's land surface by 2100 if atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide continue increasing at current rates.

Carbon dioxide and other so-called "greenhouse" gases produced by human activity are a significant cause of global warming, according to a growing scientific consensus.

Some of the most affected areas, the study found, are in tropical and sub-tropical regions, including Florida.

Williams said Florida's mean summer temperature - the midpoint between the daily high and low temperatures - could rise by five to seven degrees if the rate of greenhouse emissions remains unchecked.

Between 1971 and 2000, the mean temperature in the Bradenton area during June, July and August was about 82 degrees. Add five to seven degrees to that and you get . . . really uncomfortable.

"You would see a lot more days with high temperatures of 95 or 96," said Robert Molleda, the National Weather Service's severe weather expert for South Florida. "It might even hit 100 degrees."

Winter temperatures could increase by 3 to 5 degrees the study found.

At the same time, much of Florida could receive about 3 fewer inches of rain than now falls during the summer - a prediction that carries ominous implications for a region already forced to restrict water use.

"If you're a water resources planner in South Florida, you have to start thinking about agricultural impacts and dealing with other water availability issues," Williams said.

Taken together, the precise mix of temperature and precipitation in Florida's peninsula would be unique.

"That's a climate combination that we don't see anywhere on land today," said Stephen Jackson, a co-author of the report and an ecology professor at the University of Wyoming. "That's why we flagged South Florida."

Even if worldwide action reduces the growth of greenhouse gases, 4 percent to 20 percent of the world's land could experience novel climates, the report concluded. Florida's temperatures still could rise by 2 to 5 degrees in the summer and 2 to 3 degrees in the winter.

In producing the study, scientists employed computerized models and other statistical procedures to translate carbon dioxide levels into changes in a region's climate, which was defined as temperatures and precipitation during summer and winter. They did not factor in hurricanes or other extreme events.

The authors emphasized that long-term climatological predictions - much like long-term forecasts of seasonal hurricane activity - carry high degrees of uncertainty.

"These are simulations," Jackson said. "But they give an idea of what the science tells us will happen."

Brian Soden, a leading global warming expert and an associate professor at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key, found value in the study and said it seemed based on sound scientific principles.

"For South Florida, the more pressing issues are likely to be the impacts on low-lying coastal areas," Soden said. "As the sea level rises from global warming, low-lying ecosystems like the Everglades and other coastal wetlands will become more vulnerable to both saltwater encroachment and storm surge."

The report's authors said the disappearance of some climates and the creation of others will trigger surprising and possibly sweeping ecological changes in Florida and much of the world.

Some animal and plant species are likely to become extinct, especially in northern areas where climates - rather than shifting elsewhere - might simply disappear. In essence, those species will have no place to run.

The effects could be somewhat different, but no less unsettling, in Florida and other sub-tropical and tropical regions that develop currently unknown climates.

Hot enough for ya?

Between 1971 and 2000, the mean temperature in the Bradenton area during June, July and August was about 82 degrees. Add five to seven degrees to that and you get . . . really uncomfortable.

"You would see a lot more days with high temperatures of 95 or 96," said Robert Molleda, the National Weather Service's severe weather expert for South Florida. "It might even hit 100 degrees."

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