Age 15 | Winnipeg, Manitoba
Manitoba Science Symposium 2018 Silver Award | Award of Excellence in Meteorology 2018
Meteorology is the study of weather and weather forecasting. Environment Canada has been collecting weather data for the past seventy years (1). Among this data, the maximum and minimum daily air temperatures have been recorded in Winnipeg at the Richardson International Airport Station. The purpose of this study is to determine weather trends in Winnipeg over a seventy year period, and relate this data to climate change. Specifically, this work aims to determine the number of days above 0°C in the seventy year period for the winter months of December, January, and February, as well as the number of days below 0°C in the same time period. The study of temperatures in Winnipeg is an illustration of how vulnerable the prairies are to climate change (2,3,5). It is a warning, which has both immediate and long-term implications for the environment, as well as economic and social stability for Winnipeg, Manitoba, the prairies, Canada and the world itself.
The general trend of the results show an increasing amount of days per month with temperatures above 0°C during December to February as the years progress, and a decreasing amount of days with temperatures below 0°C for these winter months. These changes are indicative of climate change on the prairies as seen in Winnipeg. A changing climate will be one of the greatest issues facing the world in the future (4).
There will be an increase in the number of days above 0°C in the seventy-year period for the winter months of December, January and February. Conversely, there will be a decrease in the number of days below 0°C in the seventy-year period for the same months.
From the 1930s to the 1950s, people used mercury thermometers to record the daily high and low temperatures of the day for Environment Canada. In the 1950s, the thermometer was gradually replaced with a Stevenson screen, and later, modern weather stations for hourly weather reports. Today, weather data is recorded from weather stations throughout the province. The data in this project utilizes the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport Weather Station as recorded by Environment Canada.
The number of days above 0°C (Figure 1) as well as number of days below 0°C (Figure 2) for December, January and February were recorded and analyzed. The data illustrates a trend of increasing number of days during the winter months of December-February with temperatures greater than 0°C, and a decreasing amount of days less than 0°C over a seventy year period.
The data illustrates a trend of increasing number of days during the winter months of December-February with temperatures greater than 0°C, and a decreasing amount of days less than 0°C over a seventy year period. In 1938, there were eighty four days less than 0°C throughout the three months, six days less than possible ninety days (six days greater than 0°C). By 2016, there were seventy six days les than 0°C throughout the three months, fourteen days less than possible ninety days (fourteen days greater than 0°C).
The projection for 2050 based off of the trend line estimates there will be seventy three days less than 0°C throughout the three months, seventeen days less than possible ninety (seventeen days greater than 0°C). This estimate is based on current carbon emissions, and indicates an eleven day decrease of days less than 0°C from 1938-2050.
The study of temperatures in Winnipeg clearly suggests a warming trend that will continue. It is a warning, which has both immediate and long-term implications for the environment, economy and other issues for Winnipeg, Manitoba, the prairies, and Canada (2-8).
Temperatures are tied to the hydrological cycle, which affect precipitation, evaporation processes, storage and movement of water. The increasing trend in temperatures and changing water cycles will impact forests, agriculture (drought, increased pests, decrease in available water), and transportation (roads affected by freeze/thaw and communities with winter roads) (3-5).
Specifically, in Winnipeg, we can expect increased damage to roads by potholes with the freeze/thaw cycle and water main breaks resulting in higher costs to taxpayers (9). Cultural events that depend on temperatures below zero degrees Celsius for activities, such as Festival du Voyager and its famous ice sculptures, will be affected adversely with decreasing days below 0°C. Socially, we will see outdoor activities, such as river skating at the Forks and outdoor hockey, affected negatively with warming trends as open water on rivers make it dangerous to skate and outdoor rinks melt. Additionally, as cold winter days decrease, we may observe increasing insect populations affecting agriculture (5). Changes to the supply of available water due to changes in the water cycle, which is needed in Winnipeg for personal to agricultural to industrial use, could create issues including flooding and dry periods (5-6).
The seventy years of Winnipeg’s Weather data illustrates a trend and a warning. But the future has not been recorded yet. It is not too late to affect the next seventy years of what our climate will look like, and the far-reaching implications this may have. It will be up to science to provide the tools and data to monitor Climate Change in the future, and thereby minimize effects of these increasing temperatures on Winnipeg, and Canada (7). It will be up to all of us to work together to make the change, and prevent climate change from having an impact on our beautiful province (8).
The study of winter temperatures in Winnipeg over a seventy year period reveals a pattern of climate change that is representative to the warming pattern seen across the prairies. By analyzing the data of number of winter days of maximum air temperatures greater than 0°C, and minimum air temperatures less than 0°C, we can predict climate patterns in the future. Reduction of Canadian green house gasses is critical. Given the connection between climate change and green house gas emissions, things must be done to reduce our greenhouse gas emission output.
Special thanks to Dr. Timi Ojo, Ag Meteorology Specialist, Soil and Weather Surveillance Unit, University of Manitoba Agriculture for his instrumental guidance and contribution to this project without whom this work would not have been possible. Thank you also to teacher Kathleen Crang for her valuable mentorship and ongoing support, as well as Shaftesbury High School.
(1) Government of Canada, Environment and natural resources, Weather, climate and hazards, Weather data, research and learning, Historical Climate Data, Historical Data, Retrieved from http://climate.weather.gc.ca/historical_data/search_historic_data_e.html
(2) The University of Winnipeg, Centres and Chairs, Prairie Climate Centre, Climate Science, Seeing is Believing: Temperature Records Prove Canada is Warming (2017), Retrieved from http://prairieclimatecentre.ca/2017/10/seeing-is-believing-historical-records-prove-canada-is-warming
(3) The University of Winnipeg, Centres and Chairs, Prairie Climate Centre, The Prairie Climate Atlas, Welcome to The Climate Atlas, 2018, Retrieved from http://prairieclimatecentre.ca
(4) Goertzen, S. (2018, March 5). Solutions to Climate Change: Findings from the Manitoba Agricultural Climate Initiative. Keystone Agricultural Producers. Retrieved from https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/b43985_b680623ee3504c099fc30c3ccf48d960.pdf
(5) Government of Canada, Environment and natural resources, Weather, climate and hazards, Climate change, Canada’s climate plan, Adapting to climate change in Canada, Canadian Centre for Climate Services(2018), Prairie Climate Centre’s Climate Atlas of Canada, Retrieved from https://climateatlas.ca
(6) Government of Canada, Environment and natural resources, Weather, climate and hazards, Climate change, Canada’s climate plan, Adapting to climate change in Canada, Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results(2017), Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/adapting/expert-panel-adaptation-resilience.html
(7) Government of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Climate Change, Climate Adaption, Climate Risks & Adaptation Practices for the Canadian Transportation Sector 2016, Retrieved from https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/environment/resources/publications/impacts-adaptation/reports/assessments/2017/19623
(8) United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), AR5 Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (2014), Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/
Ryan Walker is 15 years old and attends Shaftesbury High School, where he enjoys science, math, geography, and E.L.A. He lives on a small acreage in Winnipeg where he spends a lot of time outdoors looking after his horses and yard.
Ryan is passionate about the environment, and climate change. For his MSSS submission, Ryan studied the climate of Winnipeg over a 70-year period from Environment Canada, with Dr. Timi Ojo of the University of Manitoba. His data included the winter months of December, January, and February with the number of days the Maximum Air Temperature was greater than 0°C, and number of days the Maximum Air Temperature was less than 0°C. He recently returned from Kyoto, Japan in November where he represented his school and Canada by presenting this research at the Japan Super Science Fair
In his free time, Ryan volunteers with the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature in the Science Gallery, helping others explore the amazing world of science. Ryan also studies the Japanese Martial Art of Kendo, the German Long Sword, and enjoys Lego, models, ATVing and cooking.
In the future, Ryan would like to further his studies at University either in Engineering, Meteorology or Science with an emphasis on climate and the environment.