Climate change is happening around the globe. In the Credit River Watershed, changing patterns in our climate look a lot like they do elsewhere in the world with increasing temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns. Locally, some of these changes are happening faster than the global average.
Using 80 years of data from Environment and Climate Change Canada, our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP) team summarized changes in temperature and precipitation in the Credit River Watershed. Here are some of the trends we observed in our local climate:
- Average annual temperature has increased by 1.8 °C
- Average daily minimum temperature (nighttime low) has increased by 2.5 °C
- Annual precipitation has increased throughout the watershed
- As temperatures warm, rain is replacing snow in winter
Changes in our climate affect our well-being. For example, increasing nighttime temperatures – a trend that’s also occurring across other parts of Ontario and Quebec – is linked to disrupting sleep. On hotter-than-average nights, people sleep less. Our bodies simply don’t have a chance to cool off. In extreme circumstances, heat waves and hotter nights can be deadly.
Changing climate patterns also impact ecosystems. Local plants and animals are adapted to our current climate. When climate conditions change beyond what species are used to, they may shift their ranges or even disappear locally. Native eastern hemlock will likely constrict its range in the watershed in the coming years. Coldwater fish like brook trout will be impacted too as stream temperatures rise in response to climate change.
IWMP tracks conditions and changes in ecosystems of the Credit River Watershed. This includes studying how ecosystems are responding to stressors like climate change.
Learn more about our changing climate and other stories from our monitoring data. Visit the IWMP StoryMap Collection.
By CVC’s Adrienne Ockenden, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring