A prairie climate think-tank says Saskatchewan should brace itself for hot, dry weather in years to come.
"There's a really important change coming to the prairie climate." - Danny Blair, Prairie Climate Centre
Over the next 30 years, research from the Prairie Climate Centre shows the number of 30+ C days in an average summer is expected to almost double. By 2080, at current carbon emission rates, that number could quadruple.
"That just transforms the climate of the prairies," said Danny Blair, Director of Science for the Prairie Climate Centre.
"Even if we significantly reduce our carbon emissions, there's a really important change coming to the prairie climate."
The centre has created an online tool called a climate atlas that shows how climate is expected to change on the prairies. The website allows people to track climate data down to the Rural Municipality level.
"Saskatoon's summer climate, under our current really bad emissions scenario, will have summers like that of Colorado and New Mexico," said Blair.
"This is big news for farmers." - Danny Blair, Prairie Climate Centre
While the amount of rain and snowfall is expected to increase in the winter and spring, summers are expected to get much drier. That is expected to have consequences on everything from forest fires to agriculture.
"This is big news for farmers," he said. "I think farmers, when they hear that, should be saying to themselves, drought is something I'm going to have to deal with."
The climate atlas offers two different climate models for both the near and distant future, depending on whether carbon emissions are curbed or not.
"Unfortunately, a large amount of change is inevitable," Blair explained. "And we need to prepare for that now. We don't want to put ourselves in the position of being surprised with all these severe kinds of weather events.
For a link to the climate atlas, click here.