JUNE 4, 2012 (TORONTO) � What will Canada’s weather look like 40 years from now? According to projections made by Professor Gordon McBean, a world renowned climate scientist from the University of Western Ontario, warmer temperatures in the summer months will, in some regions, result in an increase in wild fires, drought, water scarcity, lightning flash density and the risk of hail storms. Also parts of the country will see more intense winter storms, more freezing rain and precipitation, as well as a significant decline in sea ice cover and increased coastal erosion.
These are some of the findings of a research report released today entitled Telling the Weather Story: Can Canada Manage the Storms Ahead? The research was commissioned by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and conducted by Dr. McBean and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Dr. McBean is also President-elect of the International Council for Science; Chair of the ad-hoc Committee for the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium; Chair of Board of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences; former Chair of the international Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Program; and member of the UNESCO High Panel for Science for Development.
According to Dr. McBean, “Both the historical and projected trends shown in the research point to the need for Canada to adapt now in order to minimize social and economic costs in the future.”
Gregor Robinson is Senior Vice President, Policy and Chief Economist with IBC. He added, “We hope that this research will act as a catalyst for governments, industry, communities and individuals to recognize the weather risks we are facing and to enter discussions about how to reduce their effects on Canadians’ lives and communities.”
Robinson went on to say, “Insurers are seeing the financial impacts of severe weather first-hand. Canadians are already witnessing the impact of severe weather in terms of lost lives and injuries, families displaced from their homes, and towns that are devastated.”
In 2011, catastrophic events cost Canadian insurers roughly $1.7B and almost $1B in each of the two previous years. The majority of these insured losses were caused by extreme weather events, but smaller weather events also played a role in significant property damage for consumers.
IBC commissioned this research to better understand severe weather as a factor in the increasing damages to personal and commercial properties that we are seeing in many parts of Canada. IBC wanted to know more about how current weather patterns are likely to evolve in the decades ahead, and to begin the process of helping Canadians prepare to adapt to these changes.
IBC is a leader in advocating for adaptation to severe weather. Visit ibc.ca for a selection of brochures and a section of our website devoted to providing Canadians with practical tips about how they can improve their home’s resiliency. Backwater valves and proper grading can help prepare against flooding and disaster safety kits can help families survive in the hours and days following a disaster or severe weather event. And when people are choosing where to live, they can ask about whether there is any history of flooding or problems with sewer back-up. At the community level, planners may want to think twice about developing areas that are prone to flood.
A regional summary of Dr. Gordon McBean’s Report
There is likely to be an increase in hurricane and storm activity in the region with resulting storm surges. Freezing rain events will likely increase by 50 per cent in Newfoundland. Nova Scotia could see increases of about 20 per cent.
More hot days are coming. Trends point to three times as many days over 30 degrees C for Quebec City as there were in the period 1961-1990. Comparatively, Montreal is expected to see a 60 per cent increase in hot days by 2050. More heavy precipitation, more freezing rain events of more than six hours are probable. Increased forest fire frequency is projected.
Summertime warming is likely to be near 2-3 degrees. Toronto could see significantly more hot days (over 30 degrees C) in summer. Frost-free days in winter in Ontario are expected to double by 2050. The research projects more heavy precipitation. More freezing rain, flash flooding more wildfires are projected with the highest increases over northwestern Ontario.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Temperature increases are likely to be greatest in winter and spring in the south, at increases of 3-4 degrees C. Drought and water scarcity are likely to be a growing climate risk through the prairies. More extreme precipitation events and flooding are expected.
The province will probably be hard hit by drought and water scarcity due to decreases in summer precipitation, falling lake levels, retreating glacier, decreasing soil-water content and a greater number of dry years. There is likely to be more hail, storms and wildfires. Lightning flash density could increase by 20 per cent, with consequences for wildfires. Once again, heavy rainfall events are projected that can cause flash flooding, and events happening once every 20 years occurring every ten years.
While weather in British Columbia will be variable, overall projections show warmer and wetter weather. The mountain snowpack is expected to decline. It is possible that wildfires could increase significantly in the province’s forests, by 50 per cent or more in the period to 2050.
By 2050 the likelihood of the temperature in Iqaluit exceeding 25 degrees C. could be five times greater than during the 80s. There is an overall projected increase in temperature by 2-4 degrees C in the north. The fire season in the Yukon and Northwest Territories will likely increase by ten days, increasing the frequency of evacuations and the risk of property destruction. Sea levels could be 15-25 cm higher.
As well, the complete report, “Telling the Weather Story,” is available for download on ibc.ca.
About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 114,000 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $40 billion.
To view media releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s website at www.ibc.ca.