The Predictions For Our Future Climate?


"General circulation models" (or GCMs) are three-dimensional, computerized representations of the Earth's climate. While the various models are different, all illustrate that significant climate change will occur. Scenarios developed from GCMs show how the climate may change in response to varying levels of GHGs in the atmosphere. These scenarios consider such factors as population growth, economic activity and energy use. Parks Canada has developed scenarios that apply from the regional scale down to individual parks. They cover time periods of 20, 50 or 100 years into the future.

Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere may double this century. The global average temperature may increase by as much as 5°C. The rate of temperature change increases as one approaches polar regions. Thus, as a northern country, Canada is particularly vulnerable. The result of this temperature change will not simply be a more moderate climate. Instead, there will significant disruption of ecosystems that have adapted to the existing climate.

Temperature changes in many of our national parks may be more than twice the global average.

Over the next 100 years, these are the average temperature increases expected in Canada's national parks. The ranges reflect various modelling scenarios:
  • 2.2 -4.8°C for the parks in the Atlantic region
  • 4.6-7.5°C in the Great Lakes region
  • 4.4-10.5°C in the Prairies
  • 4.3-7.8°C in the Western region
  • 3.7-7.7°C for Pacific parks
  • 5.6-11.5°C in the Arctic region

Precipitation is more difficult to model than temperature. However, we can make certain assumptions. Warmer temperatures, especially in the winter, will result in less snowfall and a reduced snow pack. This in turn would lower lake and groundwater levels and reduce stream flows.