Impact of climate change on South Shore seen in new Climate Atlas of Canada

by Charles Mandel

Thanks to climate change things are heating up - dramatically.

Between 1976 and 2005, Bridgewater registered 2.8 days annually of plus-30 Celsius temperatures. But between 2051 and 2080, scientists believe the number of days at that temperature could reach 20.7, an increase of 17.9 per cent.

Similarly, Liverpool could experience an increase in extreme temperatures of 8.9 per cent and Lunenburg could see an increase of 15.5 per cent.

These are just a couple of the variables that can be seen on the newly launched Climate Atlas of Canada, an online tool that combines "climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home for Canadians," according to a news release.

From Toronto to Regina to Victoria and beyond, the tool allows users to explore what unprecedented warming could mean for their towns, cities or regions in the decades ahead. From an increase in searing hot days and warmer nights, to more precipitation and fewer days below zero, it shows no region will remain untouched as Canada's climate changes.

"In many parts of Canada, it can be tough to recognize how climate change is affecting our lives today, and to imagine the extent of changes ahead. Tools like the Climate Atlas can show us how we can be affected," Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said in a news release.

"The more we learn about the changes in store for our cities, regions and country, the more equipped we will be to make smart decisions to minimize risks to our infrastructure, communities and economy."

The Atlas can be accessed for free at climateatlas.ca

The Atlas is a unique tool in the world. In addition to allowing Canadians to interactively visualize climate data, it also includes documentary videos that bring the human dimension of climate change to life, providing a holistic narrative about how climate change could affect various aspects of Canadian society.

The Atlas outlines the impact of climate change on 2000 Canadian cities, towns and regions, includes video documentaries across the country based on more than 300 interviews, and includes 250 interactive map layers.

In addition to the launch of the Atlas, the Prairie Climate Centre released a series of reports summarizing what might be expected for Canada's major cities if we continue to follow a high carbon scenario.

For instance, the reports show cities that already experience hot summers will face large increases in both daytime and nighttime temperatures, while many historically cooler cities will have to start coping with dangerous heat for the first time. Such changes would have significant implications for the health and well-being of residents, for city infrastructure and for local economies.

The Prairie Climate Centre team, at the University of Winnipeg, is made up of climate scientists, social science researchers, filmmakers, and communication specialists. Their goal is to inspire citizens' participation, to support communities, and help Canadian society move from risk to resilience.

For a decade, Dr. Ian Mauro has been developing climate change documentaries across Canada, which involve interviews with and insights from over 300 Canadians from all walks of life. The Climate Atlas of Canada is a platform that mobilizes these perspectives and links them with the best available climate science.

For over thirty years, Dr. Danny Blair has been one of Western Canada's leading climatologists, and has worked for his entire career to create awareness regarding climate change as a pressing issues facing society.

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