Our Climate is Changing

Sun with red sky

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.

Hemlock trees
Eastern hemlock trees will constrict its range in the Credit River Watershed in response to climate change.

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.

Staff holding a brook trout
Brook trout need a year-round supply of cold, clear water.

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.

Have questions about our changing climate? Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

By CVC’s Adrienne Ockenden, Specialist, Watershed Monitoring

Comments (7)

  1. Excellent yet disturbing facts that should help many people to better understand the urgency of acting to change our ways. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Look at yourenvironment.ca. Click on “Climate,” choose a province/territory, choose a municipality and see the temperature record for the past century-plus. The temperature has not noticeably changed. Deduction: CO2 emissions do not affect climate.

    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi Charles, the graphs on this website you shared have y-axises that range from -40 to 40oC. This makes it hard to see any small but still significant changes. The most recent report from the Government of Canada indicates temperatures have increased by about 2oC over the past several decades – you can see the report online https://changingclimate.ca/CCCR2019/chapter/4-0/. While one or two degrees difference in average annual temperature over decades may not appear significant, it does have profound and measurable implications on the environment, human health and infrastructure over the long term. Some people notice, observe, and feel these impacts while others do not. It may not be until the impacts become more frequent. As with previous climate shifts, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere continues to be the primary contributor. Thank you for your comment.

    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi Bryan, thanks for your question. Urban growth certainly does affect local temperatures with noticeable increases in urban areas compared to surrounding rural and natural areas. As the natural and rural landscapes become urbanized, the local temperature in those areas will rise. Climate change will enhance this effect, making urban areas even hotter.

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