The Heat Is Online

Canadian Scientists Confirm Warming Trend

Canadian climate shows continuing warming trend

Reuters News Service, Jan. 11, 2001

VANCOUVER - Amid concerns that global warming is making itself felt in the Arctic, Canadian climatologists said on Wednesday that temperatures across the country were above normal in 2000 for the eighth consecutive year.

Last year was the seventh warmest recorded in the 53 years that Environment Canada has been keeping national temperature records, although it was not as warm as 1999 or 1998, the meteorological agency reported.

Climatologist Robert Whitewood cautioned against reading too much into a single year's data, but said the warming trends though both the 1990s and over the entire 53-year recording period were interesting.

"The fact that we've had in the 1990s a consecutive streak of above-normal temperatures, I think that in itself indicates there has been some sort of shift," Whitewood said.

The 2000 national average of minus 2.7 degrees Celsius (27.1 degrees Fahrenheit) was 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 F) warmer than the 53-year average. The average is below freezing because much of Canada is located in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, although most people live in the more temperate regions near the US border.

The warmer temperatures last year were most notable in the region of the Yukon territory and northern British Columbia, which was was 1.7 degrees Celsius above normal, the agency reported.

Environmentalists have warned that global warming caused by pollution is already being felt in Canada's Arctic, and have cited reports by native residents of changes in weather patterns and wildlife.

Southern British Columbia was the coolest region when compared with the 53-year average, but even its temperature was above normal last year, according to the report.

Canada recorded its warmest year nationally in 1998. Its coldest year was 1972. The last year it recorded below-normal temperatures was 1992.

On the precipitation front, 2000 was only normal on the national scale. The Pacific Coast, Alberta, northern Ontario and Quebec were dryer than average, but southern Ontario, southern Manitoba and Newfoundland saw above-average precipitation.

Environment Canada has historical data on weather conditions in southern Canada for more than a century, but it does not use it in computing national averages because recording in the extreme north did not start until the late 1940s.

Story by Allan Dowd