Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'Huge swaths' of Canada inaccessible by 2050

Canada has 'more to lose that it realizes': global warming report on Arctic

Postmedia News: 'Canada is going to be feeling the harsh edge of the sword more strongly than other Arctic states,' says Scott Stephenson, lead author of the study that forecasts that the Northwest Passage will be the last Arctic shipping route to become ice free. It also predicts huge swaths of Canada's landscape will become inaccessible by road by mid-century.

The implications could be 'profoundly negative' for remote communities and mining, energy and timber operations that now depend on winter ice roads, says the study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles... published in the journal Nature Climate Change... 'This study would suggest that Canada has more to lose than it realizes,' [said] senior author Laurence Smith, a UCLA climate researcher...

Remote communities that rely on winter roads will have to rely more on air cargo, which will 'dramatically' increase the costs of food and supplies... The 400,000 square kilometres that Canada is projected to lose access to is a huge area 'with all kinds of untapped potential,' says Smith. While building permanent roads might be an option in some areas, the costs will be high... Temperatures are expected to keep climbing well beyond 2050, making more of Canada's soggy northern landscapes inaccessible by land vehicles.

Smith says 'the other surprise for Canada is that the Northwest Passage... is one of the coldest parts of the Arctic, where water circulation is not as 'dynamic' as other areas... 'It'll be one of the last places to open up,' says Smith. 'It will be easier to go over the North Pole than throug the Northwest Passage.' As for the projected loss of land access, Smith says 'there's not much you can do other than to get the world and yourselves to reduce carbon emissions.'
Image source here.