Climate change report warns of more extreme weather events in Alberta

Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and the effects are “irreversible,” according to a report from Environment and Climate Change Canada released this week.

The driving factor of climate change in our country is greenhouse gas emissions from human activity building in the atmosphere. A warmer climate will mean 10 times as many heat waves and twice as many extreme weather events.

The report highlights two recent extreme weather events in Alberta: the 2013 floods in the province’s south and the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016.

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“There’s a real climate change footprint in those fires in Fort McMurray, and the flood was very much a global warming flood that hit Bragg Creek, Canmore [and] Calgary,” said climatologist Shawn Marshall on Tuesday.

“It was really a footprint of what a warmer atmosphere looks like.”

Climatologists are already noticing a shift towards more rain and less snow in Alberta.

The study shows average winter temperatures in the province have already increased by three degrees over the past seven decades and we’re seeing six per cent less snow.

Widespread warming will have a number of impacts on Alberta.

Warmer winters will mean less extreme cold events, smaller snowpacks, earlier snowmelt, higher streamflows and thawing permafrost.

Hotter summer weather will bring more heat waves, longer growing seasons and less soil moisture, which will result in a higher risk for wildfires and water supply shortages.

Marshall hopes the report will help the public further understand climate change in Canada and the impact humans have.

“It’s not hype — it’s just really the facts,” he said. “We need to make some strategic choices to make this a really sustainable, healthy, good place to live 50 years from now.”

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