New maps highlight changes coming to Canada’s climate

A new series of maps made by climatologists at the Prairie Climate Centre highlights just how vulnerable Canada is to continued climate changes. The maps illustrate how temperature and precipitation are likely to change in the future under two hypothetical warming scenarios: a ‘low carbon’ scenario that assumes the international community will get together very…

2017 a record year for smoke

Temperatures throughout Canada’s forests are rising fast because of human-caused global climate change, leaving researchers increasingly worried about the potential for longer, more deadly forest fire seasons in the near future.   One of the under-reported consequences of forest fires is their impact on air quality.  In many cases, communities several hundreds of kilometers downwind…

Hurricanes and Climate Change

Every year, beginning around the end of August and continuing into November, North America anxiously endures hurricane season. Hurricanes form in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and track westward towards the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and mainland United States.  The wind speeds in strong hurricanes rival those in most tornadoes, and can cause massive destruction over…

The Manitoba Carbon Pricing Coalition

The Prairie Climate Centre has joined with a variety of other organizations to form the Manitoba Carbon Pricing Coalition. We stand behind the six principles the Coalition set forth regarding the necessity to create an effective and equitable carbon price: • Urgent action needs to be taken – Human activity is changing the climate and…

Trump Rejects Economic and Scientific Sense along with Paris Agreement

Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the USA will pull out of the Paris Agreement. His speech was notable for avoiding terms such as “global warming” or “climate change” almost entirely. Instead, he roundly attacked the agreement as a purely economic instrument that purportedly imposed only costs and provided no benefits. The great fallacy of…

Keeling’s Curve

    How do we know for sure that human activities are resulting in an increase in global carbon dioxide concentrations? The answer involves accurately measuring the amount of CO2 in the air, a seemingly simple problem that’s actually deceptively complex.   If you tried to record the concentration of carbon dioxide near your home,…

Eight Ways Cities are Building Climate Resilience

The Building a Climate-Resilient City series was prepared for the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary by the Prairie Climate Centre, a collaboration between the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Climate change will have serious impacts for cities. In coming decades, building resilience will be essential urban policy and a…

Welcome to your new winter, Winnipeg

It’s a slushy, wet, late-November day in Winnipeg. I walked to work this morning missing the usual abrupt onset of the cold, dry prairie winter, and thinking that I’d been happy to leave this kind of damp and dirty fall behind when I moved here from southern Ontario. My friends and relatives are always confused…

The Heat is On, Or Why A Few Degrees is a Big Deal

Sometimes it’s hot. Sometimes it’s not. But, wait: if we’re emitting more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and heating up the planet, why doesn’t the temperature always increase too? The answer comes partly because there’s an important difference between “heat” and “temperature.” For example, when you put a pot of water on the…

Flood Risks, Big Data, and Political Leadership

 At the end of October the Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo released a report entitled Climate Change and the Preparedness of Canadian Provinces and Yukon to Limit Potential Flood Damage (PDF) that should be required reading for Manitoba’s policymakers. Its recommendations should be taken very seriously given the economic and political…

Manitoba climate policy leadership

German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) noted that our perception of truth evolves over time: “To truth only a brief celebration of victory is allowed between the two long periods during which it is condemned as paradoxical, or disparaged as trivial.” This is often paraphrased as “all truth passes through three states: first, it is ridiculed;…

Four degrees of separation: lessons from the last Ice Age

  The pace and magnitude of human-caused climate change is nothing short of remarkable. The dramatic climate change we are now experiencing is a rapid and unexpected side effect of the astonishing ingenuity of humanity. It’s really quite amazing that industrialization – harnessing the power of machines to do our work – could have such…

Punching above our carbon weight: Canada could be low-carbon leader

Pundits and politicians sometimes argue against taking action on climate change because Canada is responsible for a relatively low percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Why, they ask, should Canadians be expected to make deep greenhouse gas cuts while the real culprits, including China and the United States, do nothing? Won’t that end…

Carbon Tax: your questions, our answers

Q: “What is a carbon tax?” A carbon tax is a fee paid to the government upon the purchase of fossil fuels, which are major sources of the well-known, planet-warming gas: carbon dioxide. Most Canadians already pay some kind of extra carbon-based fee for fuels, either in the form of an explicit price per ton…

“Climate” vs “Weather”

Canadians pay a lot of attention to weather. Over the course of the year most of us see remarkable extremes of heat and cold—from -40°C in the winter to +40°C in the summer—that are unlike almost any place else on Earth. What it’s like outside seriously affects our daily lives. So we’re used to predicting,…

This ain’t your grandparents’ climate

    Memory has a way of distorting our perceptions of climate change. We remember snow drifts as high as our heads when we were kids, but forget that we were only three feet tall. We remember experiencing weeks on end of ‘windchill 2000’ weather in February, but forget that that way of measuring wind…

Warmer Prairie winters: sounds good, but what does it really mean?

Residents of Churchill, Manitoba know cold. On average, Churchill experiences about 44 days of extreme cold — where the minimum temperature drops below -30 °C — per year. These temperatures are potentially dangerous for those not accustomed or prepared for them; but are vital to the ecosystem and an important component of the global climate…

Science Update: Tropical Nights in Manitoba?

A Tropical Night occurs when the overnight temperature remains above 20 °C. Tropical Nights are exceptionally rare phenomena across most of Prairies. In fact, both Calgary and Edmonton experienced a grand total of zero Tropical Nights between 1981 and 2010. Winnipeg experiences an average of one Tropical Night per year. Water is a Greenhouse Gas….