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Climate change in Canada

Discuss about the Research On Regional Geography Of Canada.

In North America, Canada is located in the northern part of the continent. With ten provinces and three territories a total of 9.98 million square kilometers is covered by Canada, and it extends from Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and north of Arctic Ocean (Braune et al., 2015). This huge spread makes the country the world’s second-largest in terms of total area after Russia. Due to the large spread, different climates in different areas are observed throughout the country. Canada is a very geologically active country as many earthquakes, and potentially active volcanos are spread throughout like Mount Garibaldi, Mount Meager massif, Mount Cayley massif and Mount Edziza volcanic complex are some of the famous volcanoes in Canada (Barbero et al., 2015). The average winter temperature and the high temperature across Canada varies from area to area. In winter seasons especially in the interior and Prairie provinces daily average temperature is -15°C but can sometimes go below -40 °C and low wind chills continue (Braune et al., 2015). The noncoastal regions are covered in snow for almost six months in a year. A different type of winter climate is observed in the Coastal region of British Columbia where the mild and rainy weather is present during that time. In the east and the western coastal areas, the temperature goes low to 20 °C, and the average high temperature in the summer ranges from 25°C to 30 °C and in some of the locations in the interior sometimes exceeds 40 °C (Braune et al., 2015). Now in recent times the climate of Canada is changing, and likely factors that can be responsible for the climate change are researched, and effects of climate changes on the environment and people in Canada are analyzed here. In Canada from 2015, the significant climate changes are observed, and the identification of the root-causes is one of the top priority of Federal Government right now, and the necessary actions that are needed for climate change is also a significant concern for the government.

Climate change means significant changes in the regular weather patterns (like changes in precipitation, wind, temperature and some other properties) caused either directly or in an indirect way by some human or natural activity. The climate change includes the change in average conditions as well as the change in extreme events. Primarily one of the most common hypothesis is global warming which is caused by Greenhouse gases emitted from human-used machines is suspected as the cause of climate change in Canada. The other reasons in detail are discussed later. It is observed by Environment and Climate Change in Canada (ECCC) that 2 °C increase in global temperature has given rise to 3 to 4 °C increase in average temperature in Canada. Also, the annual precipitation rate has increased significantly in comparison to 1950 in most of the regions. In the northern parts of Canada, the increasing trend is more visible. Also, a significant decrease in the winter seasons is observed in the southeastern and the southwestern region of Canada. The precipitation rate has also increased in the Arctic regions all around the year except for the summer season. The highest percentage increase in precipitation has occurred in the high Arctic regions, and a slight decrease is found in the southern region of Canada especially in the Prairies. The annual precipitation increased from 25% to 45% in Nunavut and in southern Canada the average increase is from 5% to 35% (Mekis et al., 2018). As an effect of the global warming, it is observed that the Arctic ice in the sea in the later part of the summer season has decreased by 8% in comparison to the year 1979 (Mekis et al., 2018). Also, the total amount of ice has increased in a few Arctic regions but due to the high temperature causing high humidity, precipitation levels have increased. Shallow amount of increase in Thaw depth is also observed in the Permafrost regions of Canada.

Causes or factors that affected climate changes in Canada

Fig 1: Percentage of Annual average precipitation departure

Source: (Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Precipitation Change in Canada, 2016)

Fig 2: Seasonal average departure of temperature (in ° C)

Source: (Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Temperature Change in Canada, 2016)

The primary cause of climate change is definitely due to the human activities harming the environment and creating pollution. The emissions from fossil fuels and depletion of forests for agriculture and industrial revolution have the most significant effect on the climate change in Canada. Burning fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide at a higher rate which creates a shield in the atmosphere and blocks the heat, which when reflected from the earth surface cannot be released into the outer space and makes the earth warmer. This phenomenon is known as the Greenhouse effect which is used in cold countries to keep the plants warm inside a large glass covered shield. The carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas stays for a very long time in the atmosphere and hence produces long-term effects. Other types of greenhouse gases like CFC (Cloro-Fluro-Carbon) and Nitrous oxide also stay in the atmosphere for quite a long time and produce global warming (Edwards et al.,2015). Although, a few of the substances produced while burning fossils and fuels like aerosol provide cooling at a minimal level in the atmosphere.

Fig 3: Carbon dioxide emissions in Megatonnes

Source: (Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Greenhouse Gas Emissions,2018)

Natural causes of climate change: The natural factors that can affect the climate change are volcanic activities, continental drift, ocean currents, the tilt of the earth and comets and impact of meteors on earth surface.

The continents that exist today in Canada had formed millions of years ago when the drifting between the landmass began. This drift caused the change in the climate as the physical features of the landmass, their corresponding position and the position of the water bodies also changed. This separation of the landmasses caused the change in the flow of ocean currents and direction of wind which had an effect on the climate. The drift which started millions of years ago is still continuing at a minimal rate (Letcher, 2015). This is evident from the rise of the Himalayan range which is rising at the rate of 1 mm every year as the Indian landmass is shifting towards the landmass of Asia slowly.

There is a total of 200 dormant volcanoes are situated in Canada and 49 of them currently active. Now, it is known that the volcanic eruptions give rise to a large amount of sulphur dioxide, water vapor, ashes and dust in the atmosphere. In a small span of time of few days, the volcanos release a large volume of gases in the atmosphere, and this changed the pattern of the climate of Canada as discussed above. In millions of tonnes the Sulphur dioxide gasses can eventually reach the upper levels of the atmosphere (as known as stratosphere) from a huge eruption (Schuur et al., 2015). The dust and the gas particles block the rays of the sun in a partial way which leads to cooling. Then the water droplets are combined with the Sulphur dioxide to form the sulfuric acid. These tiny droplets are very lightweight, and hence these can stay in the atmosphere for many years (Fann et al., 2015). These droplets are the most efficient reflectors of sunlight and filter the ground from excessive energy. In the stratosphere region, the wind carries the aerosols either in the eastside or in the west side of the globe. The movement of the aerosols is very slow in the north and south regions of the globe.

Human created causes

The earth is tilted at an angle of 23.5° with the plane which is perpendicular to the orbital path. At the time of summer, the northern hemisphere goes towards the sun. Now, the other half of the globe is the winter because the earth is tilted away from the sun. Now, several seasons are experienced because of the tilt of the earth and the changes in the tilt will affect the seasonal changes. Now, the earth's orbit is elliptical, and hence the distance between the earth and the sun is not uniform throughout the year(Stern & Kaufmann, 2014). Now, the shape of the orbit changes as the axis of the earth is not fixed. The axis moves at a very slow rate of approximately half-degree in every hundred years, and hence the poles also change. So, change in poles is bound to affect the climate of Canada and throughout the globe. For example at the time when pyramids were built around 2500 BC, the North Pole was aligned to the star Thuban (also known as Alpha Draconis). This small and steady change in the direction of the earth’s axis is known as Precession and is one of the factors for natural climate change.

As Canada is surrounded by three oceans Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, changes in ocean currents will definitely impact the climate of Canada. The ocean currents distribute a vast amount of heat across the planet which is almost as same as what the atmosphere does. The landmasses surround the oceans, and hence the heat is distributed through water channels. The North Atlantic is mostly influenced by the ocean current. Some portions of the Arctic ocean remain frozen(the part which is close to Norway) as there is no water flow because of the low temperature (Stern & Kaufmann, 2014). It is known that Ocean current changed the direction or slowed down. The heat that escapes from the ocean is in the form of water vapour which is one of the greenhouse gas that causes global warming which contributes towards the climate change. The water vapor also contributes towards cloud formation that shades the ground surface and provides the cooling effect.

Hence, any or more of the above-discussed phenomenon can affect the climate of Canada in the future in the same way those affected the climate 14000 years ago at the time of Ice age.

Natural causes of climate change

The climate change in Canada has been affected in several ways. In this research, the top effects are discussed which are of the most concern for the Government.

Heating up of the forest fire:

The fire is always the center part of the ecosystem; however, they are becoming deadlier in the recent days. In the year 2017, western Canada was devastated by the fire, and by the record approximately 900000 hectares of British Columbia went into the smoke (Wang et al., 2015). Also, in 2016 a massive fire destroyed through Fort McMurray, and destroyed 2500 buildings which led to an evacuation of approximately 90000 citizens. This is because the grass grew in the spring and prolonged summers turn into a flammable fuel during the hot and dry weather. As the weather gets hot, it causes more amount of fuel or fire, and this releases more amount of greenhouse gasses which leads to more global warming and cycle goes on.

A new disease known as Lyme disease has been reported by various individuals which had not been recorded before. This disease initially causes the symptoms of headaches, fatigue, fever but in later stages, it can cause heart problems, arthritis and neurological diseases. The deer tick carries this infection, and in the relatively warm winter seasons, the ticks mature in a higher rate and then start biting the hosts who are white-footed mice. Therefore, the mice carry the disease and research shows the ticks were found in the further north, spreading 45 km in every year. In 2020 it is expected that 80% of the Canadians in the east of Saskatchewan will be in the high-risk zone because of the disease.

As an effect of the Global warming, the sea level is rising unpredictably, and more floods are occurring in the coastal regions of Canada (Cook et al., 2016). Also, as a benefit, the thawing ice reveals lost objects from the history of Arctic populations. As proof, in the Yukon region of Canada, the ice which is receding are exposing the archaeological relics which are unchanged for thousands of years under the ice in precise details.

Conclusion:

Hence, in this research, the overview of climate change in Canada has been identified from pieces of evidence found from several research papers. The proof of climate change in several regions of Canada which includes significant temperature change and precipitation are represented. The probable causes of the climate change include both man-made and natural causes are identified and analyzed in detail. The most prominent effects of the climate change in Canada are addressed and discussed in detail. Furthermore, this research leaves the scope of preventing or minimizing the man-made causes of climate change like using some alternative source of energy other than fossil fuels to save the environment.

Reference list:

Barbero, R., Abatzoglou, J. T., Larkin, N. K., Kolden, C. A., & Stocks, B. (2015). Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 24(7), 892-899.

Braune, B., Chételat, J., Amyot, M., Brown, T., Clayden, M., Evans, M., ... & Kirk, J. (2015). Mercury in the marine environment of the Canadian Arctic: Review of recent findings. Science of the Total Environment, 509, 67-90.

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Greenhouse gas emissions. (2018). [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/documents/pdf/cesindicators/greenhouse-gas-emissions/greenhouse-gas-emissions-en.pdf

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Precipitation Change in Canada. (2016). [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/migration/main/indicateurs-indicators/acd78526-759a-411a-a950-7372ab711c0e/precipitation_en.pdf

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Precipitation Change in Canada. (2016). [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/migration/main/indicateurs-indicators/acd78526-759a-411a-a950-7372ab711c0e/temperature_en.pdf

Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., ... &Nuccitelli, D. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 048002.

Edwards, J. E., Pearce, C., Ogden, A. E., & Williamson, T. B. (2015). Climate change and sustainable forest management in Canada: a guidebook for assessing vulnerability and mainstreaming adaptation into decision making.

Fann, N., Nolte, C. G., Dolwick, P., Spero, T. L., Brown, A. C., Phillips, S., &Anenberg, S. (2015). The geographic distribution and economic value of climate change-related ozone health impacts in the United States in 2030. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 65(5), 570-580.

Mekis, E., Donaldson, N., Reid, J., Zucconi, A., Hoover, J., Li, Q., ... & Melo, S. (2018). An Overview of Surface-Based Precipitation Observations at Environment and Climate Change Canada. Atmosphere-Ocean, 1-25.

Schuur, E. A. G., McGuire, A. D., Schädel, C., Grosse, G., Harden, J. W., Hayes, D. J., ... & Natali, S. M. (2015). Climate change and the permafrost carbon feedback. Nature, 520(7546), 171.

Stern, D. I., & Kaufmann, R. K. (2014). Anthropogenic and natural causes of climate change. Climatic change, 122(1-2), 257-269.

Wang, X., Thompson, D. K., Marshall, G. A., Tymstra, C., Carr, R., & Flannigan, M. D. (2015). Increasing frequency of extreme fire weather in Canada with climate change. Climatic Change, 130(4), 573-586.

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