“Climate change is here, and we’re on the forefront of truly understanding what is happening and what is being projected to happen a hundred years from now, which isn’t that far off.”
Projecting or predicting what the weather patterns are likely to be in the 2050s depends on computer models, fed with equations and data that come from understanding the science of very complex processes in the atmosphere. The projections also depend on how much climate warming gas pollution we keep putting into the atmosphere. Environment Canada and several universities have spent the past decade working on these models.
What Changes Might We See by 2050?
Warmer winters are already being felt and seen in communities. In particular, delays in ice freeze-up time have impacted some people’s ability to travel or hunt. It is also likely that warmer temperatures will lead to a shorter winter road season, that may result in increased costs of goods and services that are transported and accessed through the winter road.
Changes to the amount of snow in the winter will impact certain key wildlife species that are sensitive to snow depths. Furthermore, more winter rain can hinder an animals ability to thermoregulate.
A warming spring has contributed to rapid melt of ice and snow, creating unsafe ice conditions, earlier than what they may have been in the past.
A warmer spring and the projected increase in precipitation, can lead to localized flooding within communities. Water runs off the frozen ground and pools in low lying areas.
Warmer summer temperatures may have ecosystem impacts. As waters from lakes and streams slowly warm, we are seeing an invasion of warm-water fish, such as small mouth bass. This invasion could impact native fish populations. Under extreme events, such as prolonged heatwaves and drought, fish die offs have occurred and may occur more frequently, due to climate change. Extreme rainfall events are expected to become more common, drainage systems and water treatment systems will be stressed from these changes.
Warmer falls are contributing to delayed ice-freeze up. People have said this is altering the timing and the ways they hunt and fish. Many people have said they must now wait later than before so they can hunt and that there is a risk of food spoilage if hunting is not timed properly. A warmer fall is also increasing the length of the potential fire season in the north. Smoke from fires leads to human health risk and negative impact.
Warmer falls could have the potential benefit of increasing growing season length.
To check out the projections yourself, or to look at the changes in temperature under different global warming gas emission scenarios, visit: http://climate-scenarios.canada.ca/index.php?page=download-cmip5. The climate atlas also allows you to look at changes in future temperature and precipitation. They show some different ways of measuring temperature and precipitation change. For instance, how many days above 25°C will we have in a year in the future? Visit: https://climateatlas.ca/.