In an ongoing effort to bring together some local examples of what residents of the Ottawa region have already experienced attributable to climate change I’ve looked into heavy rain events. They are costly and data shows they are becoming more frequent.
2011 was a particularly bad year for damage to our local infrastructure due to intense downpours:
- There were floods in Orleans
- Highway 148 in Quebec was washed out (xtra pic)
- The Wakefield Steam Train attraction was derailed
- Gatineau Park suffered parkway, campground and trail washouts
Climate experts have predicted that climate change will increase the frequency and severity of storms. Storms such as these not only do damage directly, they also tend to exacerbate things like the repeated flooding seen in Kanata and sewage spills into the Ottawa River. The combined costs of these infrastructure needs and repairs run into the tens of millions of dollars; hundreds of millions if one counts the full cost of things like the Ottawa River Action Plan.
And the evidence is already coming in that those theoretical predictions have begun to come true. The types of damage and infrastructure demands listed above are just what we should be expecting more of.
The Environment Canada graph below shows that nationally since the early 1970s the majority of springs have generally been wetter than normal.
Ottawa is on the border of what Environment Canada considers the “Great Lakes / St. Lawrence” and the “Northeastern Forest” climate regions, as seen in the image below.
In the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence region 2011 was a record spring for what climate scientists call “departures” with rain reaching 54% above expected levels based on 64 years’ worth of data. The Northeastern Forest region was a measly 12% above expected levels.
This is shown geographically on this Environment Canada map.
Here’s a graph showing percentage departures over those 64 years first for the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence. The spikey blue lines are hard to interpret, but the 10 year rolling average in red shows clearly that “departures” are trending to heavier rain rather than to lighter.
And here’s the same graph the Northeastern Forest region.
The above 2 graphs from data from Environment Canada.
All this Canadian data is consistent with US data for their North East region.