Canada has already gotten less extreme cold, longer growing seasons, shorter snow and ice cover seasons, earlier spring peak streamflow, thinning glaciers, thawing permafrost, and rising sea level. The annual average temperature in Canada has increased at roughly twice the global mean rate. Patterns are different across regions of the country, however. Temperatures have increased more in northern Canada than in southern Canada. Annual mean temperature over northern Canada increased by roughly 3 times the global mean warming rate.
These warming rates have already been happening for the past forty years. Future projections where the warming trends continue and increase Canada’s farmable land from 100 million hectares to 520 million hectares by 2080. The United States has 166 million hectares of net cropland area and is ranked second in the world after India, which has 180 million hectares of croplands. However, the 520 million hectare scenario is RCP 8.5 which is unlikely to happen.
Under climate change projected by Canadian Earth System Model (CanESM2) Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 [RCP 4.5], ∼1.85 million km2 of land may become suitable for farming in Canada’s North, which, if utilized, would lead to the release of ∼15 gigatonnes of carbon if all forests and wetlands are cleared and plowed. This would be a 285 million hectare scenario for 2080.
By 2099, roughly 76% (55% to 89%) of the boreal region might reach crop feasible GDD conditions, compared to the current 32%. The leading edge of the feasible GDD will shift northwards up to 1200 km by 2099 while the altitudinal shift remains marginal.
Farms cover 62.2 million hectares or 6.3% of Canada’s land area. Farmable land is more but actual farms cover a lower area.
Japan has 4.4 million hectares of farmland.
Germany 11.6 million hectares of farmland
France 30 million hectares of farmland
UK 18.6 million hectares of farmland.
Canada has more farmland than Germany, France, UK combined and almost as much as all of them plus Japan.
There is an Atlas of historical and projected climate for Canada.
The “high carbon” on the Canada Climate Atlas and is based on the RCP 8.5 emissions scenario. This scenarios is unlikely to happen. The Less Climate Change / “Low Carbon” Scenario is the RCP 4.5 scenario. Greenhouse gas emissions slow, peak mid-century, and then drop rapidly. RCP 4.5 is described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a moderate scenario in which emissions peak around 2040 and then decline.
Journal PLOS ONE predicts about 4.2 million square kilometers of Canada that are currently too cold for farming crops like wheat will be warm enough by 2080 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb. In 2020, only a million square kilometers in Canada are warm enough for growing crops like wheat, corn and potatoes.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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