Our new Climate Atlas for Canada goes live

Introducing the new Climate Atlas of Canada. It features videos, maps, and plain-language explanations that make climate change meaningful from coast to coast to coast. On April 4th, 2018, the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre (PCC) launched the Climate Atlas of Canada with Minister Catherine McKenna – Environment and Climate Change Canada – at…

Where Do Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Come From?

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of many different gases, some of which are “greenhouse” gases. They are called that because they effectively act like a greenhouse or a layer of insulation for Earth: they trap heat and warm the planet. For the past couple of hundred years, human activities (such as burning coal to generate…

Climate and Chaos

An answer to the question ‘how can you predict the climate if you can’t even predict the weather?’ By the 1960’s, it seemed like the centuries old problem of accurate weather forecasting was finally about to be solved. Scientists had long assumed that the math behind weather forecasting was relatively straight forward[1]. Like a river,…

Can electric vehicles solve the climate crisis?

A little more than ten years ago, the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” mourned the wasted promise of electric vehicles. But times have changed: seemingly out of nowhere, affordable electric and hybrid vehicles are suddenly all over the place. Tesla now offers high-performance electric cars with a range of almost 500 km between charges,…

The Venus Paradox

The planet Venus is hot. Really hot. Its average surface temperature is over 460 °C, compared to Earth’s 14 °C. This might not come as a surprise: Venus is, after all, much closer to the sun than we are. So, the paradox is not that Venus is so hot, it’s that Venus is also so…

2017 ranked second-hottest year on record

To almost nobody’s surprise, 2017 was ranked as the second-hottest year ever recorded. At 0.9 °C above the 1950-1980 average, 2017 is second only to 2016, when one of the strongest El Niño events on record pushed global temperatures above 1 °C. In fact, when the temperature-boosting effects of El Niño are ignored, 2017 actually…

Urban forests under threat from climate change

Picture this: a quaint suburban street with row upon row of mature ash trees, their canopies growing and weaving together to form a tunnel of green, through which you can just make out a row of houses being shaded from the hot afternoon sun. Before 2002, much of Toronto fit this description perfectly. Today, thanks…

Record cold, winter cyclone symptoms of a warming planet

It was so cold, even the penguins had to be moved indoors. The Calgary Zoo was just one of hundreds of locations across North America impacted by the recent spell of record-breaking cold temperatures. And while Canadians are no stranger to extreme cold, the seemingly never-ending blast of icy Arctic air that 2017 left in…

Top 5: Canadian Weather and Climate Stories of 2017

Record-breaking hurricanes in the Atlantic; wildfires raging across the West coast and the Mediterranean; killer heatwaves across Europe and Australia; destructive flooding in South Asia. The list goes on and on. It seemed like 2017 had more than its fair share of disastrous weather. Although no single event can ever be directly linked to climate…

Hey Winnipeg: was November warm or cold?

Hey Winnipeg: was this a cold November, or a warm November? Winnipeggers need no reminding that November 2017 started off cold. Very cold. Record-breaking, in fact: November 9th set a frigid new record low of -23.7 °C. Predictably, many online commentators used the cold as a talking point to deny the reality of climate change….

Animating Canada’s Climate History

This animated map shows Canada’s changing climate using weather station data going all the way back to 1898. Through much of the 20th century, the map shows a mixture of red dots (warmer than average) and grey dots (colder than average). Year-to-year fluctuations and regional differences are a normal part of a healthy climate system….

It ain’t natural: how we know humans are causing climate change

Scientists have collected a huge amount of evidence proving that Earth is heating up. Over a century of meticulous temperature records from around the world plus state-of-the-art satellite and ocean-buoy measurements show that the average global temperature is getting warmer and warmer. Many people wonder how we know that it’s us – humans – causing…

Seeing is Believing: Temperature Records Prove Canada is Warming

A whole generation of Canadians has never experienced what was considered a “normal” Canadian climate for most of modern history. Historical records show that every year since 1998 – that’s 20 years ago now – has been warmer than the 20th century average. The images below illustrate historical Canadian climate data back to 1898 (Data…

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…

The Prairie Climate Atlas: making climate science meaningful

The Prairie Climate Atlas has been created as a tool for communicating the severity of climate change in the Prairie Provinces. The collection of interactive maps and graphs available throughout the website allow users to explore how climate is projected to change across the Prairies. In the coming months, we will be linking this modelling…

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…