Ex­plor­ing car­tog­ra­phy

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - BY JENSEN ED­WARDS

WWithin the next 60 years, Ot­tawa will ex­pe­ri­ence nearly 40 more days of 30-plus de­gree heat per year than the city saw be­tween 1976 and 2005. Win­ters in Pang­nir­tung, Nu­navut, will have 10 times fewer -30 C days and Win­nipeg will have four times as many scorch­ing hot days com­pared to the same time pe­riod. It’s stark, it’s dras­tic and it’s Canada’s fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­ac­tive Cli­mate At­las of Canada (cli­mateat­las.ca). Re­searchers, ge­og­ra­phers and pro­gram­mers at the Prairie Cli­mate Cen­tre in Win­nipeg have mapped the im­pacts of cli­mate-change-caus­ing green­house gas emis­sions on Canada, based on data from the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change. The on­line map lets users tog­gle be­tween 30-year in­ter­vals to see how tem­per­a­tures, pre­cip­i­ta­tion and grow­ing con­di­tions will evolve dur­ing the next half-cen­tury. When us­ing the tool, “one of the first things that peo­ple do is go to where they live,” says Ian Mauro, the Prairie Cli­mate Cen­tre’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions. He says that by lo­cal­iz­ing the fu­ture ef­fects of cli­mate change, the map will mo­ti­vate peo­ple to adapt their habits and pre­pare. “It’s not just global cli­mate mod­els and a hot earth. It’s ‘Oh, that’s my back­yard,’ and ‘Oh, I bet­ter start think­ing about this.’ ” The at­las of­fers both low- and high-car­bon pro­jec­tions for the coun­try’s cli­mate fu­ture. The lower end mod­els a fu­ture based on emis­sions lev­els fall­ing to two-thirds of 2005 lev­els by the mid­dle of the cen­tury; the high pro­jec­tion rep­re­sents the out­come if global emis­sions con­tinue grow­ing at their cur­rent rate. (The call­outs here are all based on a high-car­bon fu­ture.) “It’s the worst-case sce­nario,” says Danny Blair, the Prairie Cli­mate Cen­tre’s di­rec­tor of science. “We hope.” Blair, who helped col­lect and an­a­lyze the data, was stunned when he first saw the re­sults of fu­ture 30-plus de­gree days in the Prairies. (The main map here shows hot weather sum­mer days* un­der a high-car­bon sce­nario for 2051 to 2080, while the inset map shows the same vari­ables based on data from 1976 to 2005.) “That map is just shock­ing.”

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