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Global Warming -- It's Not What You Think!

Updated on September 2, 2011

Rainbow over the boreal forest

Seasonal Changes in Canada:2009-2010

Canada experienced its warmest spring ever this year. Same with winter. But is all of Canada warming up equally? Are some areas of Canada warmer than others? Are their regions of Canada showing below normal temperatures while others are way above normal? The same applies with precipitation. Are we becoming wetter or drier? Are some areas of Canada are experiencing a very dry season while others are unusually wet?

I will try to answer these questions by looking at the last four seasons in Canada and different regions throughout Canada.

Here are the facts:

The only season which has experienced below normal temperatures is spring. All other seasons show a warming trend over the last thirty years.

  1. Temperatures, Summer, 2009 -- Most of B.C., southern Yukon, northern Quebec, and much of the Arctic archipelago experienced temperatures more than 2° C above normal. Other parts of Canada, notably southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba experienced temperatures 2° C below normal. The rest of Canada experiencing a normal summer in terms of temperature.
  2. Precipitation, Summer, 2009 – Overall, Canada also experienced a slightly wetter than normal summer, 2.2% above normal. But, several areas were more than 20% above normal: most of Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories, southern Manitoba, Ontario and Maritimes. In contrast, most of B.C., northern Quebec and eastern Nunavat experienced more than 20% below normal.
  3. Temperature, Autumn, 2009. – The average temperature for Autumn, 2009 was the second warmest ever averaging 1.7° C above normal. Much of Canada was above normal with most of Manitoba,, northern Ontario and areas of the Arctic islands were at least 3° C. above normal. The coolest area were the Atlantic provinces which were near normal.
  4. Precipitation, Autumn, 2009 – Like the summer of 2009, the precipitation varied greatly with region. The autumn was drier than normal ranking 21st out of 62 years of record keeping but, there was considerable regional variation. Some areas of Canada; however, were more than 20% above normal (drier). These include some areas of Alberta (especially the central eastern part) Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Yukon and Nunavat. But some areas were more than 20% wetter than normal including most of B.C. southern Northwest Territorie, most of Nunavat, northern Quebec and the Maritimes.
  5. Temperatures, Winter 2009-2010 -- This was the warmest winter on record, 4° C. Three regions of Canada hit record highs: Arctic Tundra (5.4° C above normal), Arctic mountains and Fiords (5.3° C above normal)_,and Northwestern Forest (the Yukon with 4.2° C above normal). The coolest area was the Prairies, which actually experienced a normal winter!
  6. Precipitation, Winter, 2009-2010 – Canada experienced the driest winter ever – 22% below normal. Most of Canada were drier than normal except three areas: Arctic Tundra (which was 17.3% above normal), Northern Quebec and Western Labrador.
  7. Temperature, Spring, 2010 – The warmest spring on record, 4.1° C above normal. All of Canada was above normal, with some areas of Canada being as much as 6° C above normal (the Arctic and Northern Ontario). Believe it or not, five climatic regions of Canada broke records: Arctic Tundra (5.0° C above normal); Arctic Mountains and Fiords (4.5° C above normal); Northeastern Forest (4.2° C above normal); Northwestern Forest (3.9° C above normal) and theGreat Lakes and St. Lawrence (3.8° C above normal) The coolest area was the Pacific coast (0.7° C above normal).
  8. Precipitation, Spring, 2010 – Talk about extremes. Canada overall experienced only a slightly wetter spring than normal (0/9% above normal) Yet, two regions were among the wettest on record and three regions were among the driest. The wettest: the Prairies – 69.3% above normal! And the Northeastern Forest -- 23.8% above normal. The driest: Great Lakes and St. Lawrence (2nd driest at 33.5% below normal); Northeastern Forest (4th driest at 15.8% below normal) and the Atlantic Provinces ( 5th driest at 18.8% below normal)

One more note: Over the last decade, the Arctic Tundra has not experienced a drier than normal spring.

There is a pattern here. The country may be warming up in general but when analyzing the country by region, it becomes very apparent that there are extremes. One part of the nation may experience unusually warm temperatures while another part may experience very cool temperatures. The same can be said about the precipitation. For example, there could be unusual flooding and intense thunderstorms in Eastern Canada while the Prairies and the Interior of B.C. experienced drought conditions. These patterns have been going on for a couple of decades but have become very pronounced recently. The high-pressure areas are becoming larger and seem to remain stationary for longer periods of time. The same can be said with low pressure areas

 

Autumn in Prince Edward Island

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