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…

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…