Monday, February 29, 2016

Climate change will make Canada warmer and wetter

Canada wlll be two degrees warmer and five per cent wetter by 2050, reports Canadian Press in an article that features quotes from a number of researchers.

The bad news is that there will be more extremes within those averages – searing high-temperature droughts and downpours causing flooding.

"The kind of changes one anticipates are more likelihood of drought or more likelihood of wet periods," said Greg Flato, Environment Canada's top climate modeller.

"If you think about temperature extremes, as the climate warms the likelihood of getting a very hot extreme becomes greater; the likelihood of getting a very cold extreme becomes less likely."

The extra rain, for example, is unlikely to fall in a gentle spring shower. Look for it in great flooding downpours or winter rains that drain before they can nourish crops.

John Pomeroy, a Canada research chair in water resources at the University of Saskatchewan, says that moisture from snow has already declined by a third across the Prairies. The number of multi-day rains has increased by 50 per cent. 

"Farmers need to adapt to that, to being inundated and flooded quite a bit," he said.

Heat-loving crops such corn could become much more common, but they are more likely to run short of water.

"It complicates the U.S.-Canada relationship," said Rob Huebert from the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

"We know that in the southwest (U.S.) they're pretty much getting maxed out in terms of available water sources. In a United States that is water-deprived, they're automatically looking northward."

Climate will be a hidden driver behind many difficult foreign situations, said Huebert. Refugees, fleeing expanding African deserts or the strife caused thereby, will be knocking on Canada's door.