P.E.I. getting wetter, climate research shows
Precipitation patterns changing
P.E.I. is getting more precipitation than it was when records started being kept in the late 19th century, but changes in how that precipitation is falling may be more significant than the annual amounts.
Weather records for Charlottetown start in 1872. Don Jardine, a masters student at the UPEI Climate Lab, found there was about 1,050 millimetres of precipitation falling on Charlottetown per year then, and that has since grown to 1,200.
Spread out over 12 months that's not a lot, said Jardine, but he also found significant changes in how the precipitation is coming down.
"We're getting more frequent intense events, like rainfalls over 25 millimetres in a day, and more 50-millimetre events in that period," he said.
"Maybe that's the reason for the increase. When we do get rain we seem to be getting more intense, quick drops, of rain in a short period of time."
How much precipitation falls from month to month also appears to be changing, Jardine said, and that could be a problem for agriculture.
Over the last three years, the month of July, when crops need the rain most, has had below average rainfall. Extra rain in the spring and fall last year made up for that.
Spring and fall rains can cause trouble for farmers, however. Last year in many areas fields were too muddy in the fall for the harvest.
This year Jardine is concerned about the smaller than usual snowpack. Snowfall has been below normal every month since December. Without significant snow melt groundwater won't get the usual recharge.
Jardine said the Island will need another rainy spring or waterways could be drier than usual.
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With files from Laura Chapin