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Effects of climate change already present in Regina: U of R prof

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Effects of climate change already present in Regina
WATCH ABOVE: According to University of Regina professor Dave Sauchyn, the effects of climate change will look very similar to this winter; only worse – Feb 17, 2018

According to University of Regina professor Dave Sauchyn, the effects of climate change will look very similar to this winter — only worse.

“A lot of what’s unfolding, scientists have been predicting for decades,” Sauchyn said.

Those predictions include the world warming by two degrees, and increased precipitation from the warmer oceans.

Unfortunately that precipitation will likely only come to regions near large bodies of water. For the landlocked province in the heart of Canada, it likely means a drier future.

“The convergence of the variation of nature, and what we’ve done to the climate, could result in a long, warm dry spell sometime this century,” Sauchyn explained.

In other words, the drought the southern part of the province has been under for much of the past year will pale in comparison to the dry spells the province may see in the future.

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READ MORE: Winter drought may spell disaster for Saskatchewan farmers

The drastic weather fluctuations and repeated freeze/thaw cycles are something that will only be exacerbated in the future, Sauchyn says.

Already the ramifications are showing up in daily life. The Waskimo Winter Festival has had to cancel its planned dog sled races as a result of the winter drought.

“The dogs can’t race on bare ice — it’s just too dangerous for them,” explained Waskimo producer Jim Aho. “Really for most of the lake, and Wascana Creek going out of the city — which would have been their racetrack — it’s pretty much bare ice.

“Which is really odd — in the middle of Saskatchewan, in the middle of February — that we don’t have enough snow pack for the race.”

Climate change is affecting more than just snow cover — it can damage infrastructure as well.

“It’s the fluctuations of the temperature around zero degrees that’s creating these problems with the freezing and thawing and the heaving of the ground,” Sauchyn explained.

The heaving leads to potholes, damaged sidewalks, and broken water mains — something that’s been all too common this winter in the city.

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READ MORE: Massey Rd. water main break 16th one this month

“February has been a particularly busy month — we’ve had 16 water main breaks in February; that has actually reached our five-year average,” said Helene Henning-Hill, acting director of the city’s waterworks. She says nothing can be done to solve the problem.

Sauchyn doesn’t believe that’s the case, noting that these changes and the damage they inflict are here to stay — whether we like it or not.

“According to the best science we have, these challenging circumstances will [continue into] the future, so why don’t we get prepared?”

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