Canada warming at double the global rate, says government report

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OTTAWA-Canada is warming faster than the world average because of human-caused climate change, and global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions can only determine the expected severityof the consequences.

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, said climate change matters because "it affects us here and now". A report from Environment and Climate Change Canada says events such as this will become more intense and more frequent.

Annual average temperature in northern Canada increased by approximately 2.3C.

The report breaks down the combined factors of this warming to include both human behaviour and natural changes in climate over time.

"Canada's climate is warming more rapidly than the global average, and this level of warming effectively can not be changed", Nancy Hamzawi, assistant deputy minister for science and technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told reporters on Monday.

Last October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report that called for "unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" if the world is to keep global warming below the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees by 2100.

Between 1948 and 2016, average annual temperatures in Canada have increased by 1.7 C, double the global average of 0.8 C. Average winter temperatures have increased by 3.3 C.

A warmer climate will affect the frequency and intensity of forest fires, the extent and duration of snow and ice cover, precipitation, permafrost temperatures, and other extremes of weather and climate, as well as freshwater availability, rising of sea level, and other properties of the oceans surrounding Canada.

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The Arctic, which is essentially only ice, is warming at three times the speed of the rest of the planet.

The report also found that rainfall has increased in many parts of the country, particularly in Manitoba, Ontario, northern Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Snow that accumulates but doesn't melt until later in the year is effectively banked water.

While winter was not "warm" by any means, we certainly saw our fair share of freezing rain, and we all saw the effects of the thaw and re-freeze cycle on our horribly icy sidewalks.

The report is the first Canadian-specific modelling of climate change and it comes out the same week that the federal government rolls out a signature piece of their climate-change plan: the carbon tax.

Changes in climate extremes are often considered the most serious impacts of climate change.

Bush said there are two different scenarios for Canada depending on whether the world makes significant progress towards cutting net greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050.

With a "medium emission" scenario, researchers say the glaciers across the mountains of western Canada will lose 74% to 96% of their volume by late century.

The projected impacts for humans and animals are grim: more heat waves, coastal and flash flooding, droughts and wildfires are expected, along with greater risks for certain ice and marine species.

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