Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as global average: What this means for BC

Jenny Cameron / April 2. 2019

Annual temperatures across Canada between 1948 – 2016. (Canada in a Changing Climate)

In a recent report released by Natural Resources Canada, the findings suggest the climate in our country is warming twice as fast as the global average.

The report entitled “Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action,” came as a bit of a surprise to Dr. John Clague, a Professor in Science at Simon Fraser University, who didn’t expect Canada to be warming up so much faster than the rest of the planet.

“Any sort of warming that continues long enough is going to be a problem for us and scientists tell us that this is an ongoing problem – that we’re basically creating a warmer atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels.” – Dr. John Clague, professor in Science at Simon Fraser University

  • Major concerns from the report:

    • Less snowfall and more rainfall
    • Extreme temperatures, meaning intensifying some weather extremes: warm temperatures becoming hotter and cold temperatures becoming less cold
    • Decreased in snow and ice, resulting in rising sea levels and coastal flooding
    • Increased risk in water supply shortages in summer
    • Oceans surrounding Canada have warmed, becoming more acidic and less oxygenated, threatening the health of marine ecosystems

According to the report, Canada’s annual average temperature has warmed by 1.7 C compared to 70 years ago, while the rest of the world averaging at 0.8 C. The greatest warming has occurred during the winter.

“There’s almost no place on this planet that isn’t seeing some temperatures increase due to greenhouse gases.” – Dr. John Clague, professor in Science at Simon Fraser University

Clague says some major concerns for BC are the increase in wildfires, rising sea levels and amplified warming.

“With continued warming that scientist predict are going to happen, we might have seas rise as much as 1 metre along our coast.” – Dr. John Clague, professor in Science at Simon Fraser University

He says it would cost billions to protect cities, like, Ladner, Delta and Richmond, which are very low-lying coastal communities.

And after experiencing two back-to-back years of devastating wildfires, Clague says since much of BC is forested, we need to be concerned about injury, destruction of buildings and how losing trees will impact ecosystems.