Photo: Andrew Vaughan, The canadian Press
If Montrealers don’t suffer the worst reduction in the number of days of skating by winter, they suffer, however, from season beginning later and later.
The chance does sometimes hurt things. At the height of the summer, canadian researchers publish a study on the outdoor rinks and climate. Why not say a few words all the same ?
Across the country, passionate fans of hockey have each winter of the ice in their back yard. In the parks, friends and strangers cross the iron on these frozen. However, due to climate change, this aspect of north american culture is in danger.
Thanks to climate data and from a project of citizen science, geographers from Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, have found that, since the beginning of the era of the “Original Six” of the national hockey League in 1942, the number of days it is possible to skate in the open air has decreased in the six cities in question, either Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York and Toronto.
“We can see that there are already changes that affect our rinks, it is not simply something that could happen in the future “, remarked in an interview, professor Robert McLeman, who leads the research project.
The fall on the steepest of ice time occurred at Toronto, from about 45 days per winter in the 1940s to around 28 recently. In Montréal, the decrease is rather of the order of 65 to 57 days per winter.
In addition to the nod for the hockey fans, the time period chosen coincides with the rise in popularity of ice-skating rinks private. This winter activity has seen a major boost in parallel of the development of cities and suburbs in north american after the Second world War. The chosen period also coincides, obviously, with an acceleration in the rise of the mercury in the world.
Of the concrete effects
In a previous study, the same researchers had warned that the season of skating outside would shorten one-third to Toronto and Montreal if humanity continues to emit without restraint of greenhouse gas emissions. Their new retrospective analysis now shows that the phenomenon is already well in motion.
“You can see with your own eyes,” says McLeman. Or you can talk to your parents or to your grandparents to find out what had the air of winters 50 years ago. For most Canadians, it allows you to have a conversation more concrete on climate change. “
For Jean-François Ouimet, the freezing and thawing of its outdoor skating rink, are, in fact, extremely practical.
For the past eight years, he is an ice cream in his court to combat ” the tv and the screens that entice his children. The passion to skate this resident of Longueuil goes back to his own childhood, when his parents were doing an ice-skating rink at the family cottage near Maniwaki. “There was a lake in front of the cottage, round lake, wonderland, where we would ice each winter,” he says.
Like hundreds of other enthusiasts in Canada and the United States, Mr. Ouimet participates in the program of citizen science RinkWatch, which provides the basic material to Robert McLeman and his colleagues for their analyses. Volunteers fill out a form online describing the state of their ice over the winter. Since 2013, information on over 1400 ice rinks have been collected on the platform.
It is by crossing these data with historic records of temperatures that the scientists arrived at their results, published this month in the journal The canadian geographer. Under the compilation citizen, they knew that, in order to consider that a day be ready to skate in the open air, the maximum temperature must not exceed 5.5 °C below zero. In addition, a sufficient number of cold days should precede this time so that the ice is well-formed.
If Montrealers don’t suffer the worst reduction in the number of days of skating by winter, they suffer, however, from season beginning later and later. In eight decades, the date typical of the first release of the game is increased from 3 to 11 December. The rest of the warm spell are now more frequently at risk ice of the quebec metropolis during the months of January and February.
In general, the climate change introduce more fluctuations in the weather conditions. “We often talk about changes in average temperatures, but in reality the variability is more important for our winter activities such as ice skating, but skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing,” says Mr. McLeman.
Precisely, the variations of temperature bother a lot Jean-François Ouimet. “Last year, I found it very frustrating,” he said. I’ve taken it three times to make my rink. “After having tried a first test in mid-November, he finally got an ice cream and drinking that at the beginning of the month of January.
In the scientific article recently published, it raises the question of the discouragement of the manufacturers of ice. Since the maintenance of an outdoor ice rink demand great efforts, often in the evening and always cold, the people could consider that it is not worth the money, if the season starts too late and the winters become too erratic, the researchers write.
Last year, I found it very frustrating. I’ve taken it three times to make my rink.
— Jean-François Ouimet
Despite the obstacles, Mr. Ouimet does not stop making ice cream for many. “The thing that will probably stop me, he adds, is when our youngest child — who is now 7 years old — will be 13 or 14 years old. At that time, I have the impression that I’m going to move on to something else. “
The question of the extent to which his three children will be able to perpetuate the family tradition in another twenty years remains undiminished. In Montreal, the number of days per winter without thaw must go from 70 currently to 60 by the year 2040. And this, regardless of the extent of the reduction of global emissions of greenhouse gases.