New Report Explores the Health Risks of Heat Waves and Climate Change in Canada

WINNIPEG, MB – Today the Prairie Climate Centre (PCC) at The University of Winnipeg launched a special report called Heat Waves and Health, which explains the risks and health adaptation options facing Canadians regarding climate change and extreme heat: https://climateatlas.ca/heat-health-report.pdf

“The consequences of extreme heat are serious and affect cardiovascular, mental and respiratory health,” said Dr. Ian Mauro, Prairie Climate Centre’s Executive Director. “Heat, fires, smoke, and drought are stressful and can especially harm vulnerable people like children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions.”

To accompany this report, new heat wave data has been published on the Climate Atlas of Canada. This new data gives Canadians the opportunity to explore and understand the risks of climate change and extreme heat locally, in their own communities.

“Heat waves are projected to become longer, hotter, and more frequent across Canada,” said Dr. Danny Blair, Prairie Climate Centre’s Co-Director and Senior Climatologist. “This is something we need to be preparing for now, so current and future generations of Canadians continue to live healthy and prosperous lives”

Based on these new data, the special report and Climate Atlas show how numerous cities across Canada will likely see an increase in the number of heat waves in the future, especially if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectories.

Under this “high carbon” scenario, in the 2051-2080 timeframe, these climate models show that:

• Vancouver, a place where heat waves have historically been absent, will likely have 2 per year on average.

• Regina can expect that, on average, the number of days that reaches or exceeds 34°C will increase from 3 to 23.

• Winnipeg heat waves are likely to persist for longer than 7 days, up from 3-4 days historically.

• Toronto’s overnight temperature during heat waves will remain at or above 21°C on average, an increase of 1.7°C.

• An average heat wave in Ottawa could last for longer than 17 days.

• Montreal heat waves are projected to become even hotter, with daytime max temperatures averaging 33°C.

• Halifax is projected to get a dozen 30°C days per year (up from just one in the recent past).

“These new data and maps will allow citizens and policy makers to think carefully about the future and how to prepare for extreme heat,” said Dr. Mauro. “This special report and associated tools are designed to educate and inspire communities to take action and design healthy environments for a resilient future.”

The Atlas is an interactive online tool that combines science, mapping, and storytelling to make climate change meaningful to Canadians (climateatlas.ca). It includes practical advice about how individual Canadians can reduce their risk, and describes important collective measures we can take to mitigate the severity of climate change, adapt to the change that is coming, and make our communities thrive and prosper.

The new heat waves and extreme heat data now available within the Climate Atlas of Canada – under the “hot weather” tab – include:

• Number of heat waves

• Average length of heat waves

• Longest spell of days that are 30°C or warmer

• Hot season (number of consecutive days in the year that are likely to reach 30 °C or higher)

• Annual number of extremely hot days (32°C)

• Annual number of extremely hot days (34°C)

The Atlas was produced by the Prairie Climate Centre (PCC), a team made up of climate scientists, social and health science researchers, filmmakers, and communication specialists at the University of Winnipeg. The Atlas presents latest-generation downscaled climate model data made available thanks to a partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Ouranos, and the Computer Research Institute of Montreal. Its funders also include the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, the Province of Manitoba and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Important Information for the Media:

• Start exploring the new maps at: https://climateatlas.ca/map/canada/hwnum_2060_85#

• Download the Special Report at: https://climateatlas.ca/heat-health-report.pdf

• Download a print friendly map graphic:
https://data.climateatlas.ca/images/maps/en/BCCAQv2_85_annual_hwnum_2051-2080_delta.png

Contact:
Naniece Ibrahim
Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7130
E: n.ibrahim@uwinnipeg.ca

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