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Mapping climate change on the Canadian Prairies

by ahnationtalk on May 16, 2016488 Views

Mat 13, 2016

New on-line Prairie Climate Atlas puts relevant, timely research into the hands of farmers, First Peoples and decision makers

Website address: climateatlas.ca

In the coming decades the Prairie provinces are projected to warm much more than the globe as a whole and this presents an enormous challenge for the region. Today, the Prairie Climate Atlas was launched, and is the first interactive online tool to map the dramatic changes projected for the Prairies.

“Many do not fully appreciate how much the Prairie climate is expected to change,” says climatologist Dr. Danny Blair, the Director of Science for the Prairie Climate Centre and Principal of UWinnipeg’s Richardson College for the Environment. “Our Atlas allows people to see for themselves how much the climate in their individual community is expected to change.”

The Atlas shows that the number of hot summer days in many Prairies locations may triple or even quadruple by the end of the century. For example, Winnipeg would experience 46 days above 30 ˚C, Regina would have 49 such days and Calgary would have 28 days above 30 ˚C. Some areas of the southern Prairies are projected to be even hotter with 50 days above 30 ˚C in an average summer*(see table). Remarkably, the Atlas shows that some southern Prairie communities will have summers near the end of the century that will be similar to those currently experienced in northern Texas. This clearly indicates that the Prairie region should expect more drought, heat waves and forest fires and associated implications, including significant impacts on human health and the economy.

“The Prairie provinces are on the front lines of climate change, it’s a highly vulnerable region, yet adaptation and resilience is part of our culture and history,” says researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro, Director of Communications for the Prairie Climate Centre. “This Atlas is a wake up call. It helps us visualize the enormity of the challenge, and it provides decision makers with a practical tool to help develop solutions”.

Evidence-based policy making

The Atlas allows everyone from farmers and First Peoples to government policy analysts and emergency responders to anticipate and prepare for the changes anticipated over the upcoming century under various carbon scenarios. In the context of the Paris Agreement and Vancouver Declaration, the Atlas is an important tool to help with regional decision making regarding both mitigation and adaptation planning. The Atlas also provides high resolution information about changes to temperature, precipitation and the growing season. The Prairie Climate Centre research team plans to frequently update the Atlas content, providing new maps, documentary films and adaptation toolkits that will be accessible to the public and policy makers.

“The Prairie Climate Centre’s interdisciplinary team of researchers and partners offers advice and policy guidance to governments, businesses and community members,” says Dr. Hank Venema, Director of Planning for the Prairie Climate Centre. “This approach encourages sustainable development and resilient communities in the face of climate change”.

“The University of Winnipeg is deeply committed to collaborating and using our resources and expertise to meet real-world needs,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “The Prairie Climate Centre is creating data and knowledge that is easy to understand and accessible to all. We call this knowledge mobilization: it is about building capacity in our community.”

The University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) are the founding collaborators in the Prairie Climate Centre, hosted by the Richardson College for the Environment at UWinnipeg. The Prairie Climate Centre is currently supported by funding from Great West Life ($250,000) and the Province of Manitoba ($400,000). This initial funding has enhanced the Centre’s capacity to conduct applied research, mobilize knowledge, and it continues to seek additional partners and collaborators from across the region.

*Number of Days Above 30 °C
If we remain on the status quo
carbon emissions trajectory
Name Currently 2051-2080
Lethbridge 16 53
Medicine Hat 26 63
Calgary 4 28
Lloydminster 5 27
Edmonton 3 22
Grande Prairie 1 13
Fort McMurray 3 20
High Level 2 14
Swift Current 15 47
Regina 16 49
Estevan 19 55
Saskatoon 12 44
La Ronge 3 19
Black Lake 1 9
Brandon 14 49
Altona 16 56
Winnipeg 11 46
Dauphin 9 40
Grand Rapids 3 20
Thompson 2 16
Shamattawa 0 6
Churchill 1 5
Lac Brochet 0 3

Background on the Prairie Climate Center.

Dr. Ian Mauro and Dr. Danny Blair – Globe and Mail – How the Prairies can prepare for warmer future

MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca”.

NT5

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