KEY FINDING 14. Rising temperatures across Canada, along with changes in other climatic variables over the past 50 years, have had both direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems.
Climate change includes a rise in global temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events, due to human activities that alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases that trap heat and radiate it back to the earth’s surface.1 Climate change is important because climate shapes the distribution of organisms and the nature and character of ecosystems.2 Projected increases in temperature may exceed biological tolerances for many species and ecosystems in Canada, resulting in decreased capacity to recover from disturbances and increased risk of extinction for many species.3
Climate change affects all aspects of ecosystems and is at least part of the story in many of this report’s key findings.
Research provides us with understanding of how climate change affects ecosystems. Global climate models provide us with projections for future climates. Evidence of trends and abrupt changes, early warnings of deviations from established patterns, and local observations of ecological change, show us that impacts are happening now.