REPORT: Canada warming at double global rate

Tuesday, April 2nd 2019, 9:37 pm – A new study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada reveals the alarming findings. The Weather Network is rolling out a three-part series in the coming weeks that will analyze how this report will impact each region of Canada.

The world’s climate is changing and Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Just a few hundred kilometers north the situation becomes increasingly dire as Northern Canada is heating up almost three times as rapidly as the global average, according to a new study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), which states that the damage will be “effectively irreversible.”

The Canada’s Changing Climate Report states that since 1948 annual average temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.7°C and 2.3°C in Northern Canada, whereas the average global temperature on Earth has increased by approximately 0.8°C since 1880 according to NASA. Findings suggest that the environmental crisis is just beginning, as widespread warming is projected to intensify.

As shown in the figure below, the North, the Prairies, and northern British Columbia have warmed significantly faster. This unusually rapid warming in the North is referred to as Arctic amplification, which means that temperatures in the Arctic have warmed twice as fast as regions in the mid-latitudes, and is in part caused by sea ice melt and global atmospheric mechanisms that transport heat from the equator to the Arctic.

RCP emission scenariosFrom Chapter 4 Figure 4.8. Credit: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Climate models indicate that a national increase in annual average temperature from 2081 to 2100 range from 1.8°C for a low emission scenario (RCP2.6) to 6.3°C for a high emission scenario (RCP 8.5), or in other words, if we continue on business-as-usual. In the high emission scenario, the sea ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere will see a 50 per cent chance of ice-free conditions in September by 2050 and a global rise in mean sea level could range between 28 to 98 cm.

wiki cc climate change graphCredit: NOAA

A warming of just a fraction of a degree can have catastrophic impacts on certain ecosystems, and the unprecedented rate of warming in Canada could collapse major agricultural industries, flood coastlines, and significantly increase the frequency of damaging extreme weather events.

Notable highlights from the report include: MORE