Record heat forces northerners to adapt

From CBC News, Tuesday, August 10, 2010:

Landslides and low water levels in the Northwest Territories in the wake of record-breaking warmth have prompted calls for changes in infrastructure planning.

“It’s really important that community decision-makers and government decision-makers are prepared to spend a little bit more to make sure that the design [of structures such as buildings and roadways], in terms of preparation for permafrost degradation, is as strong as possible,” said Doug Ritchie, a spokesman for the environmental group Ecology North, in the wake of temperature changes that Environment Canada called “unprecedented.”

In the Northwest Territories this year, spring temperatures were almost six degrees warmer than average, surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by half a degree. Climatologist Dave Phillips said in his 40 years with Environment Canada, he’s never seen such a rapid change in temperature.

“In my business, you break records by a tenth or a hundredth of a degree, not by a full half-degree or a degree,” he said. “This is unprecedented, this kind of warming that we’ve seen in the last six months.”

Since spring, record low water levels have been recorded in the Slave River at Fort Smith, a community near the Alberta boundary.

Continue reading: Record heat forces northerners to adapt