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Highlights of Recent Research

Rising temperatures in Canada through the 21st century

This animation shows future temperatures for North America for the period 2000-2100 as simulated by the Canadian Global Climate Model (CGCM3).  Climate change is expected to bring significantly warmer temperatures to Canada during this century, particularly in the Polar Regions.  Changes in temperature are relative to the average for the period 1981-2000.

Future Climate Warming in North America

Diagnostic Plots from CGCM3/T47. Refer to text for full description.

Details regarding the greenhouse gas changes assumed for this simulation (the so-called ‘A2’ scenario) can be found in the CGCM3 forcing section. Data from these and other simulations are available for download from our data section.

Increasing Levels of Global Carbon Dioxide

A unique Canadian record of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere is being measured by Environment Canada in Alert, Nunavut, at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, about 800 km from the North Pole.   The measurements are being taken at the Dr. Neil Trivett Global Atmospheric Watch Station, which is the world's most northerly site in an international network of monitoring stations coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization.  The remote location of the site ensures that the measurements indicate changes in the global atmosphere, as there is virtually no contamination from nearby sources of carbon dioxide.

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Measure at Alert, Canada

Changes in global precipitation. Refer to text for full description.

The graph indicates that carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere has been rising rapidly since 1975.  The red line indicates the average upward trend, while the blue line shows annual fluctuations.  (Each year carbon dioxide decreases during the summer in Northern Hemisphere, as plant growth absorbs carbon from the atmosphere; and increases during the winter.)  

This research confirms global trends in carbon dioxide, and provides better carbon source - sink estimates for North America, particularly for the northern regions.  The graph presents daily averaged carbon dioxide mixing ratios in parts per million (ppm) from 1975 to 2008.

The Human Influence on Changing Global Precipitation

For the first time, a human influence on changing global precipitation patterns over the 20th century has been detected by an international team of researchers led by Environment Canada scientists, Drs. Xuebin Zhang and Francis Zwiers

Changes in Global Precipitation

Changes in global precipitation. Refer to text for full description.

The scientists demonstrated that human activities have contributed significantly to shifts in global precipitation patterns, including increased rain and snowfall in northern regions (green areas on the map), drier conditions in tropical areas north of the equator (yellow), and increased rainfall in the southern tropics (green).

The observed pattern of global precipitation change is consistent with that found in model simulations driven by the combined effect of changes in greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere.  The simulations were carried by 14 different climate models. Both observations and model simulations indicated an increasing trend of precipitation (green) in the Northern high-latitudes including Canada and South Hemisphere, and a decreasing trend of precipitation (yellow) in a broad region north of the equator including Mexico, Central America, and North Africa.  The grey areas depict transition zones where results were inconclusive. 

Reference: Zhang, X., F.W. Zwiers, G.C. Hegerl, F.H. Lambert, N.P. Gillett, S. Solomon, P. Stott and T. Nozawa. 2007. Detection of human influence on 20th century precipitation trends. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature06025