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Impacts of Climate Change

Over the period 1948 to 2010, the average annual temperature in Canada has warmed by 1.6 ░C, a higher rate of warming than in most other regions of the world. Increased winter and spring temperatures have contributed to this warming trend to a greater degree than other seasons. Warming trends are seen consistently across Canada, but the regions showing the strongest warming trends are found in the far north. Strong warming in high-latitude regions is a robust characteristic of projections of future climate change as well. This indicates that the climate of Canada, particularly in the North, to which Canadians have been accustomed and to which we have adapted our activities, is expected to undergo substantial change in the future. Future warming will be accompanied by other changes, including the amount and distribution of rain, snow, and ice and the risk of extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rainfalls and related flooding, dry spells and/or droughts, and forest fires. In addition, Canada is a maritime nation with 8 of its 10 provinces and all three territories bordering on ocean waters (including Hudson Bay). Thus many regions of Canada will also be affected by changing ocean environments, including changes in average and extreme sea level, wave regimes, and ice conditions. Dramatic reductions in Arctic sea ice cover, particularly during the summer season, are already evident and well documented, and have been attributed to human-induced global warming.

From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate 2007 presents an assessment of the consequences of climate change for different Canadian regions. It also discusses adaptations being taken now to reduce risks and to take advantage of opportunities associated with changing climate, and those that could be undertaken in future.

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