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Cleveland's Surprising Climate Buffers

In the Rust Belt, vacant urban land could be reused to help shield residents from the effects of a warming world.
Trees ready to be planted in the Slavic Village neighborhood.
Trees ready to be planted in the Slavic Village neighborhood.Courtesy Terry Schwarz

Think of places that will be affected by global warming, and coastal cities threatened by rising sea levels and powerful hurricanes (Miami, New Orleans) may first pop to mind. Great Lakes cities, on the other hand, are often projected to be climate change “winners.” Experts predict that within 50 years, people will move inland and north seeking less extreme weather.

But the Great Lakes will still be affected by climate change, just differently. In Cleveland, for instance, temperatures are rising three times faster than the national average—they ticked up 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit from 1956 to 2012, scientists have found. Researchers believe that paved surfaces and a shrinking tree canopy in the former “Forest City” are contributing to the increase.