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B.C. part of a hot spot in a hot world this record-breaking summer

Study says Western Canadian temperatures spiked at a rate ranking 7th in the world
A new analysis has found that western Canada was one of the global hot spots in a summer that climate change made one of the warmest on record. A man cools off at a temporary misting station deployed by the city in the Downtown Eastside due to a heat wave, in Vancouver, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Western Canada was a global hot spot in a summer that climate change made one of the warmest on record, according to a new analysis.

“Canada, and especially the western provinces, have been unusually warm this summer,” said Andrew Pershing, science director of Climate Central, which released its study linking greenhouse gases to daily temperatures around the world.

Climate Central took widely accepted peer-reviewed methods that calculate the contribution of climate change to extreme weather events and applied them to daily temperatures between June and August in 202 jurisdictions around the world.

The study found 98 per cent of humanity sweltered under temperatures that were made at least twice as likely by atmospheric carbon dioxide in what the World Meteorological Organization has already called the warmest for that period in recorded history.

“Nobody is safe from climate change,” Pershing said.

Certainly not Canadians.

“Very strong fingerprints of climate change persisted for at least half of the June-August 2023 period in … Western Canada,” the report says.

Over the course of the summer, Climate Central’s analysis showed Western and Northern Canada — including northern Quebec — registered temperatures 1.5 C higher than normal. That’s the seventh-highest figure in the world.

“They’ve just had very persistent unusually warm conditions,” Pershing said.

The researchers then analyzed to what extent those conditions could be attributed to climate change. They concluded that in a large band of the West Coast, for almost the entire summer, unusually warm daily temperatures were made three times more likely by greenhouse gases.

Large parts of Alberta experienced the same effect for up to 30 days.

Climate Central also looked at Canadian cities.

It crowns Charlottetown as Canada’s climate change capital. The capital of Prince Edward Island had 25 days this summer where climate change made its daily thermometer reading at least three times more likely.

Yellowknife, St. John’s, N.L., and Halifax were next in line, with 15 days of weather meeting that same bar.

If that bar is lowered to include weather made twice as likely, Surrey, B.C., had 23 days of it. Iqaluit had 18 and Calgary had 16.

Globally, the report concludes that the heaviest effects of climate change are falling on those who did the least to cause it.

In 79 countries, climate change made most of their summer weather three times more likely. Almost two-thirds of those countries were on the United Nations’ index of least developed nations. Together, those countries account for about seven per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report is the latest evidence suggesting that climate change is having an increasing and increasingly devastating effect on Canada and the entire planet.

Earlier this week, data from the European Union’s Copernicus satellites showed June, July and August average temperatures were the warmest on record around the world by two-thirds of a degree.

This summer has also seen record wildfires across Canada, forcing thousands from their homes and scorching 165,000 square kilometres.

The World Weather Attribution group found climate change has made summers like the kind that led to Quebec’s disastrous wildfire season at least seven times more likely to happen again.

Those are large-scale studies. Pershing said he hopes Climate Central’s analysis of routine hot weather will bring the impact of global warming closer to home.

“You can actually see these climate signals in more ordinary temperatures,” he said. “There’s no place on the planet that isn’t being touched by climate change.”

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