More rain, floods and heatwaves could be in store for Montreal
Extreme weather and natural disasters have been devastating communities with increased frequency around the world and it has some wondering if or how climate change will impact Montreal.
According to Environment Canada, there are a number of theories that anticipate milder Montreal winters that will start later and finish earlier than normal.
“White Christmas may not be so frequent in the coming 20 or 30 years in Quebec,” said meteorologist Amelie Bertrand.
Eyad Atallah, a research associate with McGill University’s Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department, says Montreal could see more fluctuations in winter weather.
“We might actually see more events where for instance we change from snow to freezing rain or rain,” he said.
He says heatwaves will likely happen more often and we could see increased rainfall. As oceans heat up, more water evaporates into the atmosphere.
“When it does rain we might experience more intense rainfalls than we're used to,” Atallah said. “So we could see more rain over a shorter period of time.”
Intense rainfalls could lead to more floods, similar to what Montreal and surrounding areas experienced in the spring. It’s especially problematic in urban areas where there is a lot of concrete and pavement, which aren’t conducive to absorbing water.
It’s not a lost cause, according to Atallah. Humans could help to keep things from becoming catastrophic down the road, however he says climate change isn’t something that can be reversed at this stage.
“We're not going to completely wipe it out,” Atallah said. “Climate change is a fact of life and we're going to be dealing with the consequences for at the very least 100 years.”
In the meantime the City of Montreal has an action plan for climate change. It includes plans for new infrastructure, such as eco-retention basins that act like a sponge when there’s a lot of rainfall.
There are already a few of these basins around the city. They work by filtering rain into green space where it is absorbed.
Additional basins will be developed by 2020, according to city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.
The action plan also includes provisions for milder winters.
“We're used to dealing with many massive snow storms in Montreal but now we have to get used to dealing with less snow, more rain and more cycles of freezing and unfreezing,” Sabourin said.