Environment Canada measurements show this to be the warmest year in six decades, said Phillips. In Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, temperatures have been one to five degrees warmer than normal this summer.
Phillips said both territories have had their warmest year-to-date so far, except in the Mackenzie region, which has had its second-warmest. Only the Yukon bucked the national trend, with temperatures in the near-normal range this summer.
"Come Labour Day, when we crunch all of these numbers for the summer, we'll probably be able to safely say that never has Canada seen a warmer year, certainly in the 60 years and so consistently warm," he said. One degree matters Phillips said southern Canadians don't think a slight change in temperatures is a big deal, but it is.
"My gosh, one degree warming in the North can be just as catastrophic as it could be one degree warming for prairie farmers or shippers plying the Great Lakes," he said. "It does affect the moisture conditions, it does affect the ice conditions in the Great Lakes and it can affect all aspects of life in the North."
Environment Canada breaks some climate records down to compare seasonal changes. Phillips said that in nine years of seasons — winter, spring, summer and fall — only two have been colder than normal — the springs of 2002 and 2004. He said it's a consistent signal that the climate is changing.
Researcher Dr. John Smol has spent 20 years studying the changes that have occurred over the past millennium in the Arctic by looking at sediment cores. He said it's clear if ponds and lakes remain ice-free for longer periods and water levels go down, that affects the species that live there and their habitat. Their waste and remains are preserved in the sediment, providing a record of change over centuries.
"We're now seeing evidence that these changes are continuing on to the present day and in fact may be accelerating, and we think a lot of these changes are related to climate warming," he said. Environment Canada has prepared its forecasts for the fall. It's predicting warmer-than-normal temperatures in the North and most of Canada.
Posted on 10th August 2006
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