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Will Outdoor Skating Rinks Soon Be a Thing Of the Past?

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Will Outdoor Skating Rinks Soon Be a Thing Of the Past?

New research suggests warmer winter temperatures may soon make outdoor skating rinks a thing of the past as warmer winter temperatures restrict ice from freezing over.

Many Canadians despair that our current government pays scant attention to global warming and climate change issues. A new study by Canadian climate scientists may have the government feeling intense pressure to change its mind on the subject from a hockey-mad electorate . Evidence in the new research suggests that warmer winter temperatures may soon make outdoor skating rinks a thing of the past.

Where will future Wayne Gretskys play?

Some of our greatest professional hockey players have honed their skills on outdoor skating rinks— think Wayne Gretsky. But as warmer temperatures due to climate change prevent ice from freezing over, researchers believe the hockey stars of the future will have limited access to frozen lakes and backyard rinks.

Rideau Canal skating closed

As possible evidence of this trend, the Rideau Canal in Ottawa—the longest outdoor skating rink in the world—was closed for much of the season due to warmer-than-usual winter temperatures, only opening January 15 and closing early on February 11 after a  mere 28 days of skating.

Length of skating season decreased over last 50 years

Two researchers from McGill and Concordia Universities decided to calculate the annual start date and length of the outdoor skating season from historical weather data across Canada and recorded how they’ve changed since the 1950s. In their study, which was published in today’s issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters, they “showed a statistically significant decrease in the length of the skating season over the past half century.”

Decrease most significant in BC and Alberta

The largest decreases in the skating season were recorded in the Prairies and Southwest regions of Canada. They predicted future patterns by extrapolating their data and concluded that, within the next few decades, there may be an end to outdoor skating entirely in BC and Alberta.

Canada’s winter temperatures increased more than 2.5 C since 1950

According to the Institute of Physics, Canada has “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 [manmade] global warming.”

A wake-up call for government?

Damon Matthews, co-author of the study, hopes this research will be a wake-up call for governments. “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.”

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