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Lower Welland River Characterization Report - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lower Welland River Characterization Report - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lower

Lower Welland River Study Area Characterization Report Figure 5: Soils 14

Lower Welland River Study Area Characterization Report Local Climate The climate of Southern Ontario is characterized as having warm summers, mild winters, and a long growing season, and usually reliable rainfall. The climate within southern Ontario differs somewhat from one location to another and from one year to the next. Spatial variations are generally caused by the topography and varying exposure to the prevailing winds in relation to the Great Lakes (Schroeter et al. 1998). In Niagara Region, although Lakes Ontario and Erie have a moderating influence, the regional climate is far from homogeneous. A number of microclimates exist and these result largely from the interaction of the Lakes and major topographic features with local circulation systems (Shaw 1994). Several agencies operate climate monitoring stations in Niagara; these include Environment Canada, Ministry of the Environment, Ontario Weather Network, Region of Niagara, and local municipalities. Currently in the Lower Welland River and Thompsons Creek subwatersheds, climate is monitored at 5 stations. Three of these stations monitor precipitation and the remaining 2 monitor temperature, wind, and humidity. An aspect of the Source Water Protection program was to produce a water budget and stress assessment for Niagara‟s watersheds. To carry out these studies, an understanding of climate variations was necessary to accurately identify key hydrologic processes. Spatial variations in average annual precipitation (rain plus snow), and temperature were prepared for the Niagara Peninsula Source Protection Area using Meteorological Services of Canada (Environment Canada) data from 1991 to 2005. The following general observations were reported in the Proposed Assessment Report: Niagara Peninsula Source Protection Area (NPCA 2010c) using the 1991 to 2005 data. The driest and warmest calendar year was 1998 and had generally the lowest values for both precipitation and snow; The wettest calendar year was 1996; 14-17% of annual precipitation was generally snow; Lowest monthly precipitation was measured in February; and The wettest month was generally September. Climate Change Most climatologists agree that climate change and warming of the Earth‟s atmosphere is occurring. In addition, there is also broad agreement that human activities are primarily responsible for the changes to global climate that have been observed during the last half of the twentieth century (de Loë and Berg 2006). In 2007, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) released a report on climate projections for Ontario and how Ontario‟s climate could change during the 21 st century. Climate models predict the effect of higher greenhouse gases based on increasing amounts of heat trapped in the atmosphere. Each modelled scenario has a different set of assumptions about future social and economic conditions “since the amount of greenhouse gas in the future depends on highly variable factors such as global population, human behaviour, technological development and the carbon sink/source behaviour of land and water ecosystems” (MNR 2007). For the Niagara region and westward to Windsor and Sarnia, the modeled projections calculate an increase in summer (April to September) average temperatures of 5 to 6 degrees Celsius and a 10 % decrease in precipitation by 2071 (MNR 2007). The winter climate for most of southern Ontario is projected to increase 1 to 2 degrees Celsius between 2011 and 2040, and could increase by 3 to 4 degrees by mid-century. In addition, most of southern Ontario could receive 10% less precipitation during the cold season (MNR 2007). Although the projections for Ontario‟s future 15

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