Study predicts climate of Canadian cities in 2080

Published: February 28, 2019

Updated: April 1, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Canadians are often told climate change is having a dramatic effect on the country. From increased natural disasters, to warmer weather, the Canada we know is changing. However, what will happen in your city over the coming decades?

According to a new study published this month, a good rule of thumb is to get a map and look about 1,000 kilometres south of your city. Matt Fitzpatrick or the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, says that’s the distance between 540 cities in Canada and the United States and the nearest city where they can see a future climate.

“The basic question we wanted to answer is, what is Toronto or Edmonton going to feel like if some of these forecasts come to pass as we expect them to?” said Fitzpatrick, who co-authored the report.

One example may be, Charlotte, North Carolina is almost 1,000 km from Toronto at almost due south. Charlotte has a July average temperature is 25.8C and the January average is 4.5C. In Toronto, the July average is 22.5C while the January average is -3.5C. The report suggests over the coming decades, Toronto will warm to the temperatures of Charlotte.

However, the researchers say they looked at different ways to measure climate change, which is often assessed based on temperature or rainfall data.

“That never resonated with me,” said Fitzpatrick.

“I work with these data all the time, but I’ve no idea of what does that actually mean for the place that I live. How’s my climate going to change?

“This was an attempt to answer that question.”

For each city, the researchers used 27 climate models to decide how the climate will look in the location by 2080. Next the team looked for a city that has a climate most closely matching the prediction.

“For many urban areas,” he writes, “we found substantial differences between future climate and the best contemporary climatic analog, underscoring that by the 2080s many cities could experience novel climates with no modern equivalent.”