News » Whistler

Hotter and dryer: how long will the trend continue?

Global warming is happening but there are ways to mitigate it



If you have noticed "that the alpine seems more baron than it has ever been," then according to a senior climatologist from Environment Canada you’ve noticed a hotter, drier trend.

While the rest of Canada has been experiencing colder temperatures this summer the Sea to Sky corridor has had one of its hottest, driest summers on record, but David Phillips from Environment Canada said the real problem is that this kind of weather has become familiar.

"July in Vancouver represented the second warmest July on record and records go back through the last century," said Phillips.

"But what’s interesting is that an area that’s not that far away, in Winnipeg, they were going through the coldest summer on record and their records go back 132 years.

"The problem in your situation (in the Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky corridor) is that you’ve seen too many seasons that are the same, in that they’re warmer than normal and dryer than normal."

It is old news that the world has warmed by about half a degree, but in the Sea to Sky corridor the situation is more critical.

"Where we see dramatic increases of temperature are in the west, so when we talk about the world warming up by 0.6 degree over the past century, parts of British Columbia have warmed up twice as fast in half the time," said Phillips.

"In climate circles this is quite significant, because it means your winters have warmed up by two degrees.

"So when old timers say the weather’s not what it used to be then they’re absolutely right about that."

Phillips said that warmer weather in an area such as the Sea to Sky corridor is a phenomena that affects a much greater area.

"Your mountains are getting warmer so you might have more forest fires, but what it also does affect is the water supply from the mountains, and I’m not just talking about the Coastal Mountains, it affects all three mountain ranges across Canada.

"But particularly in the Rocky Mountain system the glaciers have been an important source of water for irrigation, prairie production, for hydro power production, for urban water systems, and we’re seeing a dramatic change in terms of the melt water.

"You might think that if there’s more glacier’s melting the rivers would be filling but no, the water is so far down the flow into prairies is much less."

When the weather is warmer there is a greater need for rain, but Phillips said B.C. is also getting drier.

"Not only have we seen warmer conditions, more of the years have been drier than normal.