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Technical Thematic Report No. 5. - Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007

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Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007

Cover page of the publication: Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007

X. Zhang, R. Brown, L. Vincent, W. Skinner, Y. Feng and E. MekisFootnote[1]

Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010
Technical Thematic Report No. 5
Published by the Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007.

Issued also in French under title:
Tendances climatiques au Canada, de 1950 à 2007.
Electronic monograph in PDF format.
ISBN 978-1-100-18680-1
Cat. no.: En14-43/5-2011E-PDF

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This report should be cited as:
Zhang, X., Brown, R., Vincent, L., Skinner, W., Feng, Y. and Mekis, E. 2011. Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 5. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. iv + 21 p.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2011
Aussi disponible en français


Footnote 1

All authors are with the Climate Research Division, Environment Canada

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The Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers developed a Biodiversity Outcomes FrameworkFootnote1 in 2006 to focus conservation and restoration actions under the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.Footnote2 Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010Footnote3 was a first report under this framework. It assesses progress towards the framework’s goal of “Healthy and Diverse Ecosystems” and the two desired conservation outcomes: i) productive, resilient, diverse ecosystems with the capacity to recover and adapt; and ii) damaged ecosystems restored.

The 22 recurring key findings that are presented in Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010 emerged from synthesis and analysis of technical reports prepared as part of this project. Over 500 experts participated in the writing and review of these foundation documents. This report, Canadian climate trends, 1950-2007, is one of several reports prepared on the status and trends of national cross-cutting themes. It has been prepared and reviewed by experts in the field of study and reflects the views of its authors.

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The authors are grateful to Heather Haywood and Ross Mackay of Environment Canada for assistance with the figures. We would also like to thank the two reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions toward an improved version of the report.

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Ecological Classification System – Ecozones+

A slightly modified version of the Terrestrial Ecozones of Canada, described in the National Ecological Framework for CanadaFootnote4, provided the ecosystem-based units for all reports related to this project. Modifications from the original framework include: adjustments to terrestrial boundaries to reflect improvements from ground-truthing exercises; the combination of three Arctic ecozones into one; the use of two ecoprovinces – Western Interior Basin and Newfoundland Boreal; the addition of nine marine ecosystem-based units; and, the addition of the Great Lakes as a unit. This modified classification system is referred to as “ecozones+ throughout these reports to avoid confusion with the more familiar “ecozones” of the original frameworkFootnote5.

Ecological classification framework for the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report for Canada.

Long Description for Ecozones+ map of Canada

This map of Canada shows the ecological classification framework for the Ecosystem Status and Trends Report, named “ecozones+”. This map shows the distribution of 15 terrestrial ecozones+, two large lake ecozones+, and nine marine ecozones+.

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Climate is the long-term behaviour of weather. It includes not only average conditions of weather, but also variations and extremes. Just as weather differs from one day to another, climate also fluctuates from one period to another. Therefore, climate naturally shifts as it does when ice ages come and go. Over the past 100 years, the world’s climate has changed noticeably. Unlike the natural variation in the climate, however, the climate change observed over the past century contains a significant and detectable human-induced component (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). It is also changing at a faster rate than experienced before, and faster than some ecosystems are able to adapt. In fact, widespread changes in the temperature and other aspects of the climate system are now affecting many physical and biological systems on all continents (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007). Canada’s climate has also experienced rapid changes in temperature, precipitation, hydrometeorologic regimes, and snow and ice cover over recent decades, with important implications for ecosystems.

The trends in this report were prepared as background material for Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010. In addition to this overview report, trends for regionally-averaged climate variables were prepared for each terrestrial Technical Ecozone+ Report. It should be noted that the objective of this report was to provide information on the rate and spatial character of changes in important climate variables over Canada, rather than an assessment of the impacts of climate change. Trends in climate extremes have been analyzed and published recently, and the relevant publications are referenced in this report. The material presented in this report is preliminary. More in-depth analysis and stronger emphasis on the understanding the causes of the observed climate variability and trends is being prepared for journal publication.

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Footnote 1

Environment Canada. 2006. Biodiversity outcomes framework for Canada. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. 8 p.

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Footnote 2

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Biodiversity Working Group. 1995. Canadian Biodiversity Strategy: Canada's response to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Environment Canada, Biodiversity Convention Office. Ottawa, ON. 86 p.

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Footnote 3

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments of Canada. 2010. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON. vi + 142 p.

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Footnote 4

Ecological Stratification Working Group. 1995. A national ecological framework for Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch, Centre for Land and Biological Resources Research and Environment Canada, State of the Environment Directorate, Ecozone Analysis Branch. Ottawa/Hull, ON. 125 p. Report and national map at 1:7 500 000 scale.

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Footnote 5

Rankin, R., Austin, M. and Rice, J. 2011. Ecological classification system for the ecosystem status and trends report. Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends 2010, Technical Thematic Report No. 1. Canadian Councils of Resource Ministers. Ottawa, ON.

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