Leading Edge / Spring 2003
Winter Warm-up

Study points to climate change in Western Canada


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Or not. Canada’s highest mountain, Mount Logan in the Yukon, has seen increasing levels of the white stuff over the past 150 years. This means significant climate change has occurred in Western Canada, according to a new study led by Kent Moore, a professor in the department of physics. “We argue that this increase in snow accumulation is associated with a warming of the atmosphere over Western Canada,” he says. If this trend continues, he adds, the region could experience warmer winters and more changes in weather patterns.

Moore and an international team of researchers chemically analyzed a 100-metre-long ice core taken from the mountain. They found that the average annual snow accumulation remained constant between 1700 and 1850. But since around 1850, there has been a marked increase in snowfalls – with the most significant changes occurring in the past decade.

According to the study, both surface and atmospheric temperatures have risen in Western Canada – and this could point to climate change caused by greenhouse gases. The research promises to intensify the debate over whether humans are responsible for such climate change, and highlights the critical need to take action to reduce global warming. “For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we need to deal with this,” says Moore, “because we’ve caused it.”


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