Global warming threatens the backyard rink

A Canadian tradition, the backyard rink, may be in trouble in the coming years in much of the country, including P.E.I. That's the conclusion of Rink Watch, which has been studying ice conditions in rinks since 2012.

Researchers studying ice conditions, including reports from rinks in P.E.I.

Volunteers send in ice conditions from backyard rinks across the country to Rink Watch. (Submitted by Donna Cassell)

A Canadian tradition, the backyard rink, may be in trouble in the coming years in much of the country, including P.E.I.

That's the conclusion of a group of geographers at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, which has been studying ice conditions in rinks since 2012.

They're the founders of Rink Watch, a website that allows people to pin their rinks on a map, and then update ice conditions all winter.

They've just crunched the first two years of data, along with global climate models, and they say the number of skating days will drop by 20 to 30 per cent in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary by the end of the century.

Skating on a frozen pond is becoming more dangerous with warmer average temperatures. (Christian LeBlanc/YouTube)
So far this year the Rink Watch team says El Nino is making it tough on rink builders across the country.

"What I'm hearing from people this winter is that it's too late a start now for many people to bother putting out their rink," said Robert McLeman, a geography and environmental studies teacher.

"So people who've made rinks for years on end are this year looking around and saying, nah, it's not going to be a good winter, I'm not going to bother because we can't be guaranteed to get more than a couple of weeks out of the rink."

Rink Watch has had seven rinks reporting from P.E.I. since it started.

McLeman said they'd be happy to hear from more Islanders, especially during this El Nino winter.

They eventually hope to include backyard rinks from around the world, including Scandinavia, Russia and Northern China.

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