Climate Change

Status and Trends
rapid warming trend (status deteriorating) with widespread biodiversity impacts
Concern, getting worse at a rapid rate
some good data but often poor spatial and temporal coverage; trends are clear
Medium confidence in finding
in many ecosystems, impacts are just starting to become apparent
Red flag

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.

This key finding is divided into four sections:

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.

Graphic: relationship between climate change and some of this report’s key findings. Click for graphic description (new window). Photos: Sky ©, Creek ©, Geese ©, Wetlands ©

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.


Global Trends

From 1906 to 2005, average global surface temperature rose by 0.74°C. The warming is widespread around the world, is greater in northern latitudes, and has been faster on land than in the oceans. Global average sea level has risen since 1961 at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year, increasing since 1993 to 3.1 mm per year.4





Key finding overview