A researcher from the University of Calgary says temperatures are on the rise across Alberta but Calgary, along with Banff and Jasper national parks, are really feeling the heat.
Khan Rubayet Rahaman, who specializes in urban and geomatics engineering, has studied Alberta climate change using detailed temperature measurements from satellite data. It dates back to 1961 and goes up to the most current measurable decade ending in 2010.
The data suggests more than two-thirds of Alberta experienced local warming trends since 1961 ranging from one-quarter of a degree to more than 1 C.
“The most significant issue we discovered was that the Banff area, Calgary, Grande Prairie, and the northwestern part of the province actually experienced a significant increase in temperature and it might be because of population, tourism and industrial activities,” Rahaman said.
“Jasper is included in there up in the Grande Prairie area. The temperature actually increased up to 1.2 C.”
He suggested urban sprawl adds to the problem – new communities are dependent on cars which require more roads and create greater traffic congestion.
All of Alberta’s major cities saw a significant increase except for Edmonton, which warmed about one-quarter of a degree.
“Maybe the development was more sustainable and Edmonton saw less population growth than Calgary did.”
Rahaman detailed the data in a paper published last year and said a followup is expected to be published in November.
He has used his research to create a detailed map that could prove to be a warning for areas of Alberta that are facing more extreme temperatures.
“Decisions-makers in our cities and province can now see what is happening in a tangible way,” he said.
“It’s a wake-up call, because there could be something like water stress coming, forest fires, natural disasters, and then agriculture practices will disappear.”