Canada’s Climate Is Warming Twice As Fast As Global Average — Canada’s Changing Climate Report (CCCR)

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Canada’s newly released report, Canada’s Changing Climate Report, comes just months after the NOAA’s annual executive summary of ongoing changes regarding land, ice, and ocean throughout the Arctic during the 2018 calendar year.

The CCCR 2019 report assessment was conducted by 9 valued scientists and experts. It is part if the “National Assessment” that was launched in 2017. It focuses on answering the questions: how has Canada’s climate changed to date — why and what changes are projected for the future.

Combined with NOAA’s annual arctic report card, and the recent documentary The Human Element, this report tells of the possibility of two futures for humankind. So much depends on the responsiveness of humans.

According to Canada’s Changing Climate Report, Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Northern Canada is heating up at almost three times the global average. “In Northern Canada, the annual average temperature has increased by 2.3° C,” CBC Canada points out.

The study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada reports that, since 1948, Canada’s annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7° C, with higher rates seen in the North, the Prairie, and northern British Columbia.

A Canadian government press release explains further: “Canada’s Changing Climate Report provides the first in-depth, stand-alone assessment of how and why Canada’s climate has changed, and what changes are projected for the future. Undertaken by some of Canada’s finest scientists, this report provides an independent analysis and evaluation of the scientific confidence based on the scientists’ expert judgment. The assessment was led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, with contributions from Fisheries and Ocean Canada, Natural Resources Canada and university experts.”

Storm surge on the Sunshine Coast Highway (Highway 101) at Davis Bay, British Columbia, located on the mainland coast north of Vancouver, British Columbia, on F ebruary 6, 2006. Photo courtesy of B. Oakford.
Example of coastal erosion and roadway damage at Conrads Road on Queensland Beach, Nova Scotia, following the January 4, 2018, blizzard. (see ). Photo credit: Colleen Jones, CBC, January 5, 2018.

CBC points out that, along with these temperature increases, the CCCR says Canada is experiencing increases in precipitation (particularly in winter). As with the wild west of the US, Canada has suffered “extreme fire weather” and water supply shortages in summer, and a heightened risk of coastal flooding.

CCCR states:

“Coastal flooding is expected to increase in many areas of Canada due to local sea level rise. Changes in local sea-level are a combination of global sea level rise and local land subsidence or uplift. Globally, sea level has risen and is projected to continue to rise. Local sea level is projected to rise, and increase flooding, along most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada and the Beaufort coast in the Arctic where the land is subsiding or slowly uplifting. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic and Atlantic Canada further increases the risk of damage to coastal infrastructure and ecosystem as a result of larger storm surges and waves.”

This reminds me of a portion of The Human Element regarding similar problems further south. “In Chesapeake Bay, you can have flooding on a sunny day. Just on ordinary days, the tide comes up and floods the streets. Sunny day flooding — I mean, go figure,” James Balog states in The Human Element. “Over the past 400 years, more than 500 islands have disappeared from the Chesapeake Bay — 40 of which were once inhabited. Tangier is in line to be next. Rising waters continuously erode the island’s sand, silt, and peat, tearing the island apart. Every year, 9 acres of Tangier erode into the bay.”

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It is up to all of us, and our dear millennial offspring raising their children. Assessing impacts and adaptation responses. “Beyond the next few decades, the largest uncertainty about the magnitude of future climate change is rooted in uncertainty about human behavior,” CCCR claims. “[T]hat is, whether the world will follow a pathway of low, medium, or high emissions. Given this uncertainty, projections based on a range of emission scenarios are needed to inform impact assessment, climate risk management, and policy development.” Further:

“The rate and magnitude of climate change under high versus low emission scenarios project two very different futures for Canada. Scenarios with large and rapid warming illustrate the profound effects on Canadian climate of continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Scenarios with limited warming will only occur if Canada and the rest of the world reduce carbon emissions to near zero early in the second half of the century and reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases substantially. Projections based on a range of emission scenarios are needed to inform impact assessment, climate risk management, and policy development.”

Just a few examples:

There is a comprehensive body of work in CCCR 2019 if you want to explore and make your own way through it.

Projected relative (local) sea-level change along Canadian coastlines at the end of the century. Changes in local sea level are a combination of global sea level rise and local land subsidence or uplift. Projections shown are the median projection based on a high emission scenario (RCP8.5) and are relative to the average conditions in the 1986–2005 period. From Chapter 7 Figure 7.16.

The body of work is expansive and impressive. It also ask us to change our ways. The rate and magnitude of climate change under high- versus low-emission scenarios project two very different futures for Canada.

Having been in Nova Scotia this year, I met only kind, intelligent people, who are thinking and changing. They seemed willing to change, more than many. We can’t seem to wake up in the states.

Map identifying areas of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean in which temperature and salinity time series are presented in this report. These areas include the Labrador Sea, Newfoundland Shelf, Scotian Shelf, Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Bay of Fundy. Ocean observations are collected by DFO Atlantic zone monitoring programs. The 200 m and 1000 m depth contours are indicated by the light and dark blue lines. SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Monthly precipitation simulated by the global model (left) and regional model (right) based on simulations described by Scinocca et al. (2016). The global model results are provided to the regional model along with its boundaries, and the regional model recomputes climate in the interior of that limited area domain. The higher-resolution regional model provides more detail, as seen in the simulated precipitation patterns.

Authors of this report were: Elizabeth Bus, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Nathan Gillett, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Barrie R. Bonsal, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Stewart Cohen, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Chris Derksen, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Greg Flato, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Blair J. W. Greenan, (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) Marjorie Shepherd, (Environment and Climate Change Canada) Nx  Xuebin Zhang (Environment and Climate Change Canada).

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Related: The Human Element & Our Changing World

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

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