Canadian ice hockey feels the heat

Mar 04, 2012

The future of Canadian outdoor ice hockey – a sport synonymous with the country's culture – is being threatened by anthropogenic climate change, new research suggests.

As warmer winter temperatures restrict ice from freezing over, researchers believe the ice hockey stars of the future will have limited access to the frozen lakes and backyard rinks that have helped shape the careers of some of the greatest professional players, such as Wayne Gretzky; the Canadian considered to be the greatest of all time who started skating as a child on a rink in his backyard.

Evidence of this was seen earlier this year when the world's longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, was closed due to warmer-than-usual seasonal temperatures.

Their study, published today, 5 March, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, calculated the annual start date and length of the outdoor skating season (OSS) from historical weather data across Canada and recorded how these have changed since the 1950s in tune with global warming.

Of the 142 meteorological stations studied, the researchers, from McGill University and Concordia University, found that only a few of the weather stations showed a statistically significant trend towards earlier start dates of the OSS; however, a much larger proportion of stations showed a statistically significant decrease in the length of the skating season over the past half century.

The largest decreases in the skating season length were observed in the Prairies and Southwest regions of Canada. By extrapolating their data to predict future patterns, the researchers envisaged a complete end to outdoor skating within the next few decades in areas such as British Columbia and Southern Alberta.

Co-author Damon Matthews from Concordia University emphasizes, though, that the skating season in all regions of Southern Canada is vulnerable to continued winter warming: "There is not much akin to skating outdoors, and the creation of natural skating rinks depends on having enough cold winter days. It is hard to imagine a Canada without outdoor hockey, but I really worry that this will be a casualty of our continuing to ignore the climate problem and obstruct international efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions."

Using information from outdoor public ice skating rinks in various Canadian cities, the researchers created a set of weather criteria that marks the beginning, and determines the length, of the OSS.

Their definition of the beginning of the OSS is the last in a series of three days where the maximum temperature does not exceed -5°C – it takes several cold days to lay the initial ice on the rink. Subsequently, the researchers counted the number of viable rink flooding days to estimate the season's length at each of the 142 stations.

Canada appears to have taken more of a hit from global warming compared to other countries in the world: since 1950, winter temperatures in Canada have increased by more than 2.5°C, which is three times the globally-averaged warming attributed to anthropogenic global warming.

Explore further: Treat sofas like electronic waste, say scientists

More information: Observed decreases in the Canadian outdoor skating season due to recent winter warming, Damyanov et al. 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 014028, iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/1/014028

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User comments : 10

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Bob_Roberts
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2012
Climate change isn't man's fault. Any small bit of research shows how many natural changing variables effect climate change - the sun, the moon, the earth itself - and the earth has a long history of climate change... search Google for 'ice age'.
gregor1
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2012
Hahaha Anthropogenic Climate Change? I'm thinking we're going to see an avalanche of this stuff now Canada has pulled out of Kyoto. They must be terrified! My God! They won't have to shovel as much snow either. What on earth will they do!
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Mar 05, 2012
98 percent of the worlds scientists disagree with you.

"Climate change isn't man's fault" - BobTard

http://www.youtub...=related
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (38) Mar 05, 2012
Heartland Institute (Libertarian) Employee Commits Perjury in New Zealand

http://hot-topic....roversy/

I have never encountered a Libertarian/Conservative who wasn't a scumbag liar.
Voleure
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2012
Canadians get what they deserve. They voted in multiple elections for leadership style in synch with these Heartland folks. Expand the Tar Sands, new pipelines, pulling out of international accords to avoid fines (cowardly). Their disproportionate emission of green house gases is unabashedly on the rise.

Their national sports and recreation taking it on the chin seems poetic justice from here.
gregor1
1 / 5 (6) Mar 05, 2012
Vendicar you can tell the 98% lie as often as you like but it doesn't make it true. 99 scientist were actually asked

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

A significant factor could be anything not the primary cause. In the article above why is it only the human component that is causing the ice to melt? Natural warming doesn't melt ice now? So during the medieval and Roman warm periods, when the world was most likely warmer than now the ice didn't melt? Give me a break... http://climatequo...-flawed/
None of these chosen 97 scientist were asked if this man made portion was a concern. I wonder why?
Sanescience
1 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
I am an AGW agnostic, and really wish some serious money would get spent on some large scale controlled experiments using the actual gasses in question. Watch what happens with moisture and convection and clouds and radiance, etc. We will spend sky high for the next particle accelerator that will inch us closer to the next esoteric exotic particle measurement, but building a relatively inexpensive mile deep hole in the ground with sensors to conduct basic experiments... nope. Some people will argue that computer models are good enough. Until we can reliably simulate and predict actual physical models, I'm not so sure.

I remember when AGW was only going to be small fractions of degrees. Now articles start with an assumption of cause and effect that seem to make a game of one upping each other. Let's get back to understanding basics, because ultimately if were going to have to counter act all this CO2 we better make sure we understand the issues from every angle.
gregor1
1 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
Of course if the ice melts too much they could just get GISS to 'adjust" the data http://notrickszo...evision/
Caz
5 / 5 (2) Mar 05, 2012
One would have to be looking through rose coloured glasses, to actually believe that since the start of the industrial evolution, imparticular, to now, that our rape and pillage mentality towards nature is not contributing to global warming. Movement causes friction, friction causes heat, how many wanks to boil a kettle.
gregor1
1 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2012
Of course Caz contributing sure but how much is the issue. In a christian based culture humans like to think they're the centre of everything in fact , having fathered a child, children go through this stage. It's a sweet idea but we actually need evidence. As far as I can see we haven"t found a human signature in any of this.