Wild Canadian Weather — Sun

The driving force behind all weather, sunlight creates a banquet for blue whales, helps vultures soar, and is essential for training some extreme athletes.
Available on CBC Gem

Wild Canadian Weather — Sun

Nature of Things

From the filmmakers who brought you WILD CANADA and THE WILD CANADIAN YEAR comes WILD CANADIAN WEATHER, an exciting new series that continues the exploration of Canada’s fascinating wildlife, amazing landscapes and extraordinary people — this time, through the lens of Canada’s intense and dramatic weather.

The incredible power of the sun fuels birth, growth and even flight. It is the driving force behind all weather.

Every summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the sun triggers an explosion of life. A bloom of algae and plankton feeds shrimp-like krill that provide a feast for the planet’s largest animals — the blue whale. These giants have a heart the size of a car and a tongue as big as an elephant, yet they feed on some of Earth’s smallest creatures.

Canada’s desert regions get over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, which keeps a juvenile tiger salamander on a tight schedule — the pond where he was born is quickly drying up. Before he can escape, he undergoes a remarkable transformation to become a nightmarish cannibal. With his big head and sharp teeth, he hunts down his own siblings and grows the lungs he needs in time to escape his shrinking pond.

Other desert creatures survive the sun by coming out at night. The tiny pocket mouse is a keen conservationist, using every trick in the book to make sure she doesn’t dehydrate in her dry world. She even collects seeds in her fur-lined cheek pockets without having to open her mouth!

Turkey vultures use the sun to power their long migration south for the winter. Flapping their wings takes too much energy. Instead, vultures use sun-heated air called thermals to soar for hours. And humans do this, too. Canada’s top female paraglider, Nicole McLearn, uses thermals to lift her 5,000 meters above the ground where she can travel up to 100 km in a day.

Each spring, the Arctic sun signals that weather is just right for baby muskoxen to be born. But the warmth also lures hungry grizzly bears from their winter dens. Muskoxen mothers need to be vigilant to keep their calves safe.

As the average temperature rises in Canada, our cities are getting hotter while our northern glaciers melt. There are 12% more lightning strikes with every degree rise in temperature and with drier forests, we are seeing more frequent and intense forest fires. As wildland firefighters know, the secret to putting them out is to get to them early — even if that means jumping out of a plane to reach them!

During the summer months, the sun shines down 24 hours a day above the Arctic Circle, driving the incredible growth of tundra plants, as well as veggies in the Inuvik Community Greenhouse — the most northerly greenhouse in North America and the largest of its kind in the world.

With never-before filmed wildlife behaviours and astonishing landscapes, Sun is filled with surprising stories of our star’s power, and how it affects all life in Canada.

WILD CANADIAN WEATHER is an intimate and dramatic exploration of life in one of the most intense and challenging weather-influenced countries on the planet. Each episode reveals the drama and natural history of weather events and their impacts on people and wildlife. WILD CANADIAN WEATHER will give Canadians even more reasons to talk about the weather!