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

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The Prairie Climate Atlas launched today is the first interactive online tool to map the dramatic changes projected to occur to the climate on the Canadian Prairies. The interactive website developed by the Prairie Climate Centre will provide important resources that citizens, planners and policy-makers need to understand the risks expected to occur in decades to come. The Atlas offers high resolution information about changes to temperature, precipitation and the growing season across the Canadian Prairies. It allows everyone from farmers and First Peoples to government policy analysts and emergency responders to anticipate the changes ahead.

In the coming decades the Prairie provinces are projected to warm much more than the planet as a whole and this presents an enormous challenge for the region. The Atlas shows that the number of hot summer days at many locations in the Prairies may triple or even quadruple by the end of the century. Indeed, some areas of the southern Prairies are projected to have more than 50 days above 30˚C in an average summer. Remarkably, the Atlas shows that southern Prairie summers near the end of the century 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 those for human health and the economy.

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

The research team plans to frequently update the Atlas content, providing new maps, documentary films and adaptation toolkits.

The University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development are the founding collaborators on the Prairie Climate Centre and continue to seek additional partners and collaborators from across the region. The Centre will be hosted by the Richardson College for the Environment at the University of Winnipeg.