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New Boreal Forest Mapping Foresees Increase in Heat, Insects, Wildfires

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The University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre has updated its national climate atlas to give Canadians a picture of how climate change will affect specific sections of the boreal forest.

A research team led by Centre Co-Director Danny Blair “divided the entire country into a grid of squares 10 kilometres per side,” The Canadian Press reports. “Using a combination of 12 international climate models, they made their best projection as to how each of those grid squares would be changed,” based on high- and low-emission scenarios out to 2100.

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“It’s really quite dramatic if we follow the trend that we’re on right now,” Blair said. “We’re going to see some really high temperatures.”

The map shows Edmonton experiencing more than 20 days per year above 30°C, compared to three or four today. Winnipeg goes from a dozen 30°-plus days to more than 50.

The mapping also shows the prairie provinces drying out and insect infestations getting worse as temperatures rise. Already, “Blair has no hesitation in linking the larger, hotter forest wildfires of the last few summers at least partly to climate change,” CP notes.

“If there is one thing we’re quite certain about, it is that forest fires are getting worse under climate change, and they’re going to get worse,” he said.