50 years from now, natural ice rinks in Canada may be a thing of the past, at least in many regions of the country, according to research published today from the Institute of Physics Journal Environmental Research Letters.
Scientists from McGill University and Concordia University, in Montreal, have studied 142 weather stations throughout Canada, analysing temperatures between 1951 and 2005. They found that global warming is affecting southern British Columbia and Alberta in particular. The outdoor skating season lasts longer in Atlantic Canada.
“We found that many locations have seen a statistically significant decrease in the OSS [outdoor skating season] length, particularly in Southwest and Central Canada,” the authors explain. “This suggests that future global warming has the potential to significantly compromise the viability of outdoor skating in Canada.”
Generally, it takes three days in a row with a maximum high of -5 C to be able to skate on an open ice rink. This year, the world’s largest ice rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, with a length of 7.8 km (nearly 5 miles), was closed earlier due to the warm temperatures. It remains to be seen, however, whether this fact will change the Canadian government attitude towards climate change and environmental policies.
Or as Damon Matthews, co-author of the study, puts it: “It is hard to imagine a Canada without outdoor hockey, but I really worry that this will be a casualty of our continuing to ignore the climate problem and obstruct international effort to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Nikolay N Damyanov, H Damon Matthews, & Lawrence A Mysak (2012). Observed decreases in the Canadian outdoor skating season due to recent winter warming Environmental Research Letters : 10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/014028