Canada is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world, according to a new report from the Canadian Environment and Climate Change department, detailed by CNN on Tuesday.
Since the earliest available records from 1948, Canada’s average land temperature has increased 1.7 degrees Celsius, according to the report. The most dramatic increases were seen in Canada’s northern and Arctic regions, Northern British Columbia and the Prairie Provinces like Manitoba, Albert, and Saskatchewan.
In northern regions, temperature increases averaged 2.3 degrees Celsius.
In keeping with other climate change research, the report lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of human economic activity:
“While both human activities and natural variations in the climate have contributed to the observed warming in Canada, the human factor is dominant,” the report states. It is likely that more than half of the observed warming in Canada is due to the influence of human activities.”
Since 1948, there has also been an increase in the amount rain relative to snowfall across Canada. Warm temperatures have become more extreme and cold temperatures less extreme, and the authors project that hot temperatures will continue to occur more frequently. This could exacerbate the risk of wildfires and droughts in much of Canada.
More recently, there has been a decrease in the amount of snow coverage on land in Canada. Some areas of the Canadian Arctic are expected to start seeing entirely ice-free periods during summer.
The report also projects more flooding due to sea-level rise, including in urban centers, as well as shortages of freshwater in the summer months due to evaporating surface water. Oceans are expected to become more acidic and less oxygenated, potentially threatening marine life.
Warming is faster in Canada in large part due to the decline of snow and sea ice, which leads to more absorption of solar radiation, and an increase in surface warming.
The Canadian government recently put carbon taxes into effect for four of its provinces after they failed to develop their own plans to reduce emissions and address climate change. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set an April 1st deadline two years ago, and Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have failed to comply. A 3.6 cent (US) tax will be added to the cost of each liter of fuel, doubling by 2020.
The authors say this rapid warming could still be mitigated by global efforts to lower “carbon emissions to near zero early in the second half of the century and emissions of other greenhouse gases substantially.”
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