Our Changing Climate
The changing climate means a long-term shift in weather conditions measured by changes in temperature, precipitation, wind, snow cover and other indicators, according to Environment Canada. It can involve changes in average conditions and in extreme conditions.
The changing climate is a result of the expansion of the natural greenhouse effect. Higher greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere are amplifying the greenhouse effect and warming the planet, affecting wind patterns, precipitation and storm events.
The City of Leduc’s 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory identifies carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases as GHGs. The GHGs are summarized into a standard unit – tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
Global warming does not mean every day or year will be warmer than the previous one. Changes in weather patterns will continue to produce some unusually cold days and nights, and winters and summers, even as the climate warms. The 15 hottest years on record have occurred between 2001 and 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There is growing consensus that extreme weather events such as very hot days, very cold days or intense precipitation likely will become more frequent and more intense.
Leduc’s changing climate
Leduc is being impacted by our changing climate.
According to the City of Leduc Weather and Climate Readiness Plan, temperature, precipitation and extreme weather events in our region have changed over the past 50 to 100 years. Further changes are expected, and our community will experience more grass fires, tornadoes, storms, flooding, water scarcity or uncomfortably high temperatures.
Leduc’s mean annual temperature:
- has increased 2.7°C over the past 30 years.
- is predicted to increase a further 2.0°C by the 2050s,
- has increased about twice the observed rate of warming globally over the same period, confirming predictions that our changing climate will be felt more acutely in Alberta.
Leduc’s mean annual precipitation:
- has increased by 31 mm per century,
- is projected to increase a further 5% by the 2050s,
- will fall more and more as rain or freezing rain – with less snow – as temperatures warm.
Changes in temperature affect the size of glaciers, the seasons of greatest precipitation and the type of precipitation (rain, freezing rain or snow). All these factors affect the water flows of our rivers and streams. North Saskatchewan River stream flows are expected to continue to decline as Alberta glaciers are projected to lose 80-90% of their volume by the end of the century.
Leduc’s GHG emissions
By 2030, total community emissions are projected to rise to 460,740 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tC02 e), equivalent to year-on-year average growth of about 0.6% since 2015.