At Home: Harsh winter but global warming continues nonetheless
Many Canadians have been wondering exactly what happened to global warming with some of the brutally cold temperatures that have been a part of the winter of 2007/2008. The nation has been hit with winter storms that have dumped snow in amounts not seen in years. Environment Canada did go on record early in the season predicting the worst winter in 15 years, and in most places people are quick to agree that this has indeed been the case.
A La Niña is believed to be at least partially responsible for the harsh winter weather in Canada this year. The change in normal strength of the trade winds that are part of the La Niña pattern is thought to have a major effect on winter weather here.
Whilst Canadians have encountered more snow, wind, and sub-zero temperatures this winter than they have seen or felt for some time, it does not reduce the overall concern for global warming and environmental change.
Despite Canadians from coast to coast to coast having been slapped with a real reminder of harsh winters past, the fact remains that we’re unlikely to see a recurrence of these conditions any time soon. The records still show the trend is toward a warming climate. This winter may have been harsher than those in recent memory but temperatures are still breaking records for their warmth.
For example, Winnipeg weather records dating back to 1872 show that the ?normal? average winter daytime temperature for January is -13 C. This year, however, the average high has been up at -4 C. Record hail on the prairies for 2007, record flooding in BC, and record high temperatures in many places across the country and entire continent indicate that the climatic changes will continue to bring unpredictable weather.
Chances are that Canadians won’t be in for another harsh winter any time soon and that in itself is surely a mixed blessing.
In Foreign News: U.S. South is perilously close to running out of water
Deep in the Southern U.S., Atlanta, Georgia is scrambling to find a solution to their imminent water shortage. A record-breaking drought plagued the southeastern United States in 2007 and left water reserves depleted. Officials of Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia, have admitted that as little as 90 days? worth of drinking water is now in reserve for the city.
The two lakes near Atlanta that normally fulfill all water needs are drastically low as a result of the current drought. Normally a lush and humid part of the South, Georgia is reeling from these unexpected conditions.
Weather experts predict that it will take many months of good rainfall to restore the normal water levels of the Georgia lakes.
Because of the water shortage, Georgia is embroiled in battles with its neighbours Alabama and Florida over the little water they do have. A case was heard in U.S. federal court this month in which Alabama and Florida sought to stop Georgia from taking more than their allotment of water from the lakes that flow out of that State.
The city of Atlanta is home to over five million people. City officials have urged residents to cut back on their water consumption and all outside watering has been banned. While no contingency plan exists at this time, the mayor of Atlanta has suggested that desalination of sea water may be a possible future endeavour. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of Georgia’s water reserves and is insisting that a contingency plan is unnecessary at this time.
In the meantime, the rainy winter season is almost over in the South and the blazing summer temperatures that soak up water are just around the corner.