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One area of the planet is warming at twice the global rate, report finds

Posted at 6:14 AM, Apr 02, 2019

Canada is warming up faster than the rest of the world, according to a report commissioned by the Canadian Environment and Climate Change Department.

The report -- titled "Canada's Changing Climate Report" -- says, on average, Canada's climate has been and will continue to warm at double the rate of global warming. The report also says since 1948, when records became available, Canada's average land temperature increased by 1.7 degrees Celsius (approximately 3 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some of the key takeaways from the report included:

  • The observed warming of Canadian temperatures are due to "human influence."
  • There has been more rain than snowfall in Canada since 1948, a trend that looks to continue over the 21st century.
  • Temperature extremes have changed in Canada, meaning extreme warm temperatures are getting hotter and extreme cold is becoming less cold.
  • Extreme hot temperatures will become more frequent and intense.
  • Over the last 30 years, the amount of snow-covered land has decreased in Canada.
  • Flooding is expected to increase in Canada because of sea-level rise.
  • Freshwater shortages in the summer are expected because warmer summers will increase the evaporation of surface water.

Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, told CNN that the report confirms what's already known, "North America, and especially Canada, is seeing even more rapid warming than the planet on the whole, and the impacts are now readily apparent."

"In the case of Canada, climate change threatens its very identity, melting its glaciers and ice, shortening its iconic winters by turning snowfall into rain, and flooding its beautiful coastlines," Mann said. "This latest report drives home the fact that climate change is a dire threat now, and if we don't act to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, that threat will only worsen with time."

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, said climate change matters because "it affects us here and now."

"Warmer conditions bring summer heat waves, record-breaking floods and wildfires, sea level rise, permafrost thaw, invasive species, and a host of other impacts we're not prepared for," Hayhoe said. "Understanding how climate is changing in the places where we live and what this means for our future is key to ensuring our future is better, not worse than, today."

Similar to Canada, US researchers also warned of the affects of climate change.

In November, the US Global Change Research Program released a report saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars -- or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its gross domestic product (GDP) -- by the end of the century.

"The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities," said David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.

Without significant reductions in greenhouse emissions, the annual average global temperature could increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) or more by the end of this century, compared with preindustrial temperatures, the report says.

One of the impacts of climate change in the US, the report says, is that the Midwestern part of the US is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature and will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2090.

The report also says more people will be exposed to more foodborne and waterborne diseases, particularly children, the elderly, the poor and communities of color.