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Custom Climate Change Reports for Your Community (5/10/2018) - Last month, we launched our new interactive Climate Atlas website. One of its primary goals is to make climate data accessible and meaningful by providing maps, graphs, explanations, and summaries. Today we highlight a little-known feature embedded in the Atlas: the ability to download climate change summary reports for any location on the map. They...
How does Canada plan to reduce its Greenhouse Gas Footprint? (5/8/2018) - In a previous blog post, we took an in-depth look at Canada’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions [1]. The most recent GHG census pegged total annual emissions at 722 Mt (million metric tons) [2]. This is a very large number considering Canada’s relatively small population, meaning our per capita emissions rank among the highest in the world [3]....
Roy McLaren: A Conversation about Climate Change and Farming (5/3/2018) - Roy McLaren has a lifetime of farming experience: he’s farmed in southwest Manitoba for over 70 years. He looks at the climate projections presented in the Prairie Climate Atlas with concern. “That is pretty bad,” he says, looking at maps projecting a huge increase in very hot weather. “With that kind of heat,” McLaren muses,...
As Long as the Sun Shines: Montana First Nation Solar (4/24/2018) - Montana First Nation is located in what was once rich oil and gas country in central Alberta. But as the oil wells began to dry up, the small community was faced with the enormous challenge of finding new employment for many of their members who landed out of work. That’s when the idea of solar...
Climate Atlas: Agriculture Topic Goes Live (4/20/2018) - Climate Atlas gets major update at local launch event. In front of a home-town audience at the University of Winnipeg, the Prairie Climate Centre (PCC) unveiled its first major update to the Climate Atlas of Canada: an Agriculture themed section, complete with all-new articles, videos, and maps. Manitoba’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Rochelle Squires, was...
Our new Climate Atlas for Canada goes live (4/12/2018) - 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...
A new Climate Atlas for Canada (4/4/2018) - The Climate Atlas of Canada is an interactive tool for citizens, researchers, businesses, and community and political leaders to learn about climate change in Canada. It combines climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home, and is designed to inspire local, regional, and national action and solutions....
Where Do Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Come From? (3/7/2018) - 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 (2/22/2018) - 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? (2/16/2018) - 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 (2/12/2018) - 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...
Will Climate History Repeat Itself? Lessons from another global warming event. (2/5/2018) - Approximately 56 million years ago, Earth underwent a period of rapid global warming. Scientists have named this event the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM for short. Long before humans even existed, Earth’s climate warmed by over 4 °C (and perhaps by as much as 8 °C). From a geological perspective, the PETM occurred out of...
2017 ranked second-hottest year on record (1/22/2018) - 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 (1/11/2018) - 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 (1/5/2018) - 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 (12/14/2017) - 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? (12/6/2017) - 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 (11/17/2017) - 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 (11/13/2017) - 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 (10/31/2017) - 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 (10/19/2017) - 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 (10/19/2017) - 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 (9/13/2017) - 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 (9/5/2017) - 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...
MB Carbon Pricing Coalition The Manitoba Carbon Pricing Coalition (8/3/2017) - 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 (6/2/2017) - 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 (4/19/2017) -     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 (4/10/2017) - 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...
Winnipeg slush Welcome to your new winter, Winnipeg (11/29/2016) - 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 (11/25/2016) - 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...
Assiniboine River flooding, Winnipeg Flood Risks, Big Data, and Political Leadership (11/18/2016) -  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 (11/1/2016) - 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 (10/28/2016) -   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 (10/20/2016) - 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 (10/14/2016) - 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...
Snowfall on tundra “Climate” vs “Weather” (10/7/2016) - 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 (7/21/2016) -     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? (7/14/2016) - 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? (6/29/2016) - 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....
Opinion: The 1.5 °C Challenge (6/27/2016) -       A recent article in the Guardian newspaper highlights the implications of the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C as had been the generally accepted target prior to Paris – the implications bear directly on how we plan climate adaptation and mitigation policy for the Canadian...
Climate Summary Reports: Statistics for your community (6/17/2016) -     With the launch of the Prairie Climate Atlas last month came a new adaptation tool we called the ‘Climate Report Card.’ These reports detailed climate change statistics for major cities and towns across the three Prairie Provinces, and allow local leaders, researchers and members of the public to see how climate change will...
Science Update: the ‘wet gets wetter, dry gets drier’ trend (6/14/2016) -     A recent publication in Nature Climate Change (Donat et al, 2016) has significant implications for future water management on the Canadian Prairies.   The influence of a warming planet on precipitation patterns is a central question that climatologists must address to guide policies for climate adaptation. Over the ocean,  climatologists generally agree that regions of the...
New Poster Highlights Implications of the Changing Prairie Climate (6/6/2016) - What will climate change mean for the Canadian Prairie Provinces? A new educational poster was published today by the Prairie Climate Centre highlighting the risks of climate change across the region. Few aspects of Prairie life will be unaffected by climate change, especially if global carbon dioxide emissions continue to climb. Forest fires will likely...
Research and Collaboration: Adapting our Forests to Climate Change (6/1/2016) -     For forest ecologist Dr. Andrew Park, getting Manitoba’s forests ready for climate change is of top concern. Park, an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg, is partnering with the Prairie Climate Centre to study how climate change will affect tree species in North America. Using climate model data provided by AdaptWest, the...
Win a deck of limited edition Prairie Climate Centre playing cards!!! (5/27/2016) -     The Prairie Climate Centre Playing Cards feature 52 unique maps, graphs and tables depicting expected changes in temperature, precipitation and much more for communities across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Enter our contest for a chance to win a deck! To enter, you must first visit our interactive website: climateatlas.ca. Then, in 100 words...
Climate Atlas points to very large increase in +30 °C weather for the Prairies (5/20/2016) -     Last week we launched the Prairie Climate Atlas – which illustrates how climate change is likely to impact the Canadian Prairie Provinces. One of the most dramatic maps in the atlas shows how the number of days per year with temperatures greater than or equal to +30 °C triples or even quadruples across...
New online Prairie Climate Atlas puts relevant, timely research into the hands of farmers, First Peoples and decision-makers (5/7/2016) -     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...
The Prairie Climate Centre opens its doors (12/2/2015) - A joint initiative of the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Centre will help governments, businesses and community members identify and anticipate risks, take advantage of emerging opportunities, build capacity, and enhance economic and environmental resilience to climate change.