The global reach of local weather conditions

One thing the scientists all agree on is that the future looks troubling.

Compared to the rest of the country, we’ve had a pretty mild winter. So far this year snowfall has been over 98 per cent below normal. According to Roger Pannett, volunteer weather observer for Environment Canada, for the 11th consecutive February total precipitation was below normal, a trend never previously observed.

In his Weather Report for 2012, Pannett said that with ten high temperature records and only one low temperature record, the mean temperature for last year was 0.36 degrees C above normal, continuing the general warming trend which began in 1986. And last year we had 14 days of maximum temperatures above 30 degrees C, double the average seven days for such temperatures.

Local warming weather trends are in line with what is happening globally and especially in the far north.

Canada’s glaciers are the world’s third biggest ice sheets behind Antarctica and Greenland. But according to research by scientists in the Netherlands and the U.S., they are heading for an irreversible melt. If just 20 per cent of the ice in Canada’s north melts, it will push up global sea levels by some 3.5 cm. Their report was published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

While a total melt of the world’s glaciers would take centuries, the speed of melt will accelerate in the coming decades as more bare land is exposed. With the ice cover and the albedo effect gone, the land will absorb the heat and further accelerate the regional melt. Large-scale deep thawing of permafrost will amplify the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, further accelerating warming.

In another study by 21 authors from 17 institutions in seven countries research showed that with the retreat of snow and ice in the north, seasonal temperatures and vegetation in Arctic regions are changing to more resemble landscapes found several degrees of latitude further south. Those findings were published in the journal Natural Climate Change.

“As a result of the enhanced warming over a longer ground-thaw season, the total amount of heat available for plant growth in these northern (circumpolar) latitudes is increasing,” said Dr. Compton Tucker, senior scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, Maryland. “This created, during the past 30 years, large patches of vigorously productive vegetation totalling more than a third of the northern landscape – over nine million square kilometres – resembling vegetation that occurs further south.”

A key finding of the scientists is an accelerating greening rate in the Arctic and a decelerating rate in the boreal region. They theorize this may be because of complexities between growing season warmth and the fallouts from the greenhouse effect that include permafrost thawing, forest fires, drought, and increasing pest infections.

One thing the scientists all agree on is that the future looks troubling. Based on state-of-the-art climate modeling simulations, seasonal temperature and vegetation changes in the Arctic could resemble regions hundreds of kilometres further south throwing off course the flowering and fruiting of many plants that hundreds of species rely on in their seasonal migratory trek for food, nesting and breeding grounds. These changes will affect how an ecosystem will provide food and resources to local residents.

“The way of life of many organisms on Earth is tightly linked to seasonal changes in temperature and availability of food, and all food on land comes first from plants,” said Dr. Scott Goetz, deputy director and senior scientist, Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Think of migration of birds to the Arctic in the summer and hibernation of bears in the winter. Any significant alterations to temperature and vegetation seasonality are likely to impact life not only in the north but elsewhere in ways that we do not yet know.”

Just Posted

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
Student’s quote in Chilliwack high school yearbook equates graduation with end of slavery

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Doses prepared at pop-up vaccine clinic in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, in the M3N postal code, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston)
4 vaccine clinics coming to Neighbourhood Learning Centre

Fraser Health made clinics ‘low-barrier’ meaning pre-registration not required

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Most Read