Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Predictions of Canada's climate not a pretty picture

A series of (relatively) new maps produced by the Prairie Climate Centre paint a rather scary picture of Canada's climate 50 years hence.
Looking at the projected change in mean temperature in 2051-2080 as compared to the baseline period of 1976-2005, the maps conclude that all of Canada will get significantly warmer even under a low-carbon RCP4.5 scenario (which assumes that the international community is suddenly able to get its act together and urgently address greenhouse gas emissions). Unfortunately, we are currently much closer to the RCP8.5 scenario in which greenhouse gases continue to run rampant.
Even more dramatic is the extent to which the northern Arctic range the of the country is set to heat up much faster and much more than the populated south, an effect that is particularly noticeable in the winter months. Now, you might think that is not such a big deal, but the Arctic is an important component of the global climate system, and melting sea ice and snow can have an amplifying effect on planet-wide global warming, as well as contributing significantly to rising sea levels.
The predicted precipitation effects are also dramatic, with southern Canada (where the vast majority of our population and agriculture are located) expected to become much drier in the summer months, and much wetter throughout the rest of the year. This could lead to an increased risk of severe drought and wildfires in the summer (the growing season), and increased flooding in the winter and spring.
All in all, not a pretty picture.

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