Climate change is likely to have a range of complicated impacts affecting all kinds of human activity–from new water patterns that produce more flooding, to lower crop yields that exacerbate hunger in poor places.
The maps here trace the complicated “human dynamics of climate change.” They were developed by the U.K. Met Office (the official British weather forecast service), together with the U.K. Foreign Office and several universities.
They start with a “present-day” picture map, which shows trade in various commodities (wheat, maize, etc), important areas for fishing, routes for shipping and air freight, and regions with high degrees of water stress and political fragility.
Then the maps get into specific issues, based on “business as usual” climate forecasts for 2100, i.e. what will happen if society does nothing to stop global warming from its current track. You can see, for example, how higher temperatures could increase demand for irrigation water; how parts of the world could see increases and decreases in water run-off into rivers; how different areas (like 70% of Asia) are set for more flooding; and how the warmest days in Europe, parts of Asia, and North America are projected to be 6°C warmer.
The poster also has summaries for each region of the world. North Africa, for instance, “is projected to see some of the largest increases in the number of drought days and decreases in average annual water run-off.” North America, meanwhile, is forecast to see an increase in the number of drought days, increasing temperatures on its warmest days, and, depending on the region, both increases and decreases in river flooding.
The overall impression is one of flux. Climate change not only means warmer temperatures. It means a tremendous churning of natural processes that human beings rely on.