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Solar Energy

The energy contained in sunlight is the source of life on Earth. Humans can harness it to generate power for our activities without producing harmful pollutants. There are many methods of converting solar energy into more readily usable forms of energy such as heat or electricity. The technologies we use to convert solar energy have a relatively small impact on the environment. However, they each have disadvantages that have kept them from being widely adopted.

In Canada, the use of solar energy to generate electricity and heat is growing quickly and is helping reduce pollution related to energy production. Despite Canada’s cold climate and high latitudes (which get less direct sunlight than mid-latitudes), solar power technologies are used in many places, from household rooftops to large power plants. The Canada Energy Regulator (formerly the National Energy Board) expects solar power to make up 3 per cent of Canada’s total electricity generation capacity by 2040.

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Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms usually occur on summer afternoons. While a thunderstorm typically affects a given locality for only an hour or so during its passage overhead, the entire lifetime may be as long as 6-10 hours, along a pathway of several hundred kilometres.

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Rainfall Extremes

The amount of rain or snow that reaches the ground can vary dramatically on any particular given day, even over short distances. Many people have experienced a near-deluge of rain in their backyard, while at the same time their front yard or their neighbour's home remains quite dry.

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Weather

WEATHER FORECASTING is the attempt to understand atmospheric patterns to predict the weather conditions that will occur at a specific place and time, including temperature, wind, cloud, precipitation and humidity.

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Weather Forecasting

Most modern meteorologists attempt to cope with physical processes by expressing them mathematically, ie, by creating mathematical models of the atmosphere. Powerful computers are then used to solve problems.

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Weather Observations

   Weather in Canada ranges from the extreme cold of the Arctic to tornadoes and other severe weather in the southern regions; from the storms and fog of the Atlantic to the dry heat and majestic thunderstorms of the prairies.

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Wind

In the atmosphere, between about 1.2 and 1.6 km above the Earth's surface, winds tend to blow parallel to rather than across the lines of equal pressure (isobars).

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El Niño

El Niño is a pronounced warming of the Pacific Ocean current off the coast of South America.

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La Niña

La Niña describes an extensive cooling of the waters in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. To qualify as a full-fledged La Niña, the cooling must persist for at least 3 seasons. La Niña events are cyclical, recurring every 3 to 5 years, but the interval can vary from 2 to 10 years.

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Winter Solstice

About 30 minutes in length, the work has three movements: I The Darkest Hour, II Simulacrum, III The Prophet of Light. Hatzis explains that the title refers to the spiritual meaning of the "longest night" and that the work "...is a meditation on our own times ...

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January Thaw

January thaw, or bonspiel thaw as it is called on the Prairies, is a climatic phenomenon of unseasonably warm weather that tends to occur at about the same time every year, usually within about 10 days after the middle of January.

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Winter

Winter occurs as the Earth's axis tilts away from the sun during the planet's annual rotation. The portion of the Earth that is furthest from the sun experiences winter, with weather that is colder than the other seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter officially begins with the winter solstice, around 21 December, and ends at the spring equinox, around 21 March. Winter figures largely in Canada's climate, cultural experience and mythology. Every aspect of life in Canada is affected by winter, whether by heavy rains on the West Coast, isolation during the long Arctic winters, raging blizzards across the prairies or huge snowfalls in eastern Canada. Winter is reflected in Canadian art, literature, music, fashion, pastimes and attitudes.

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Drought

Drought is the condition of critically low water supply caused by persistently below-normal precipitation.

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Weather Modification

Weather modification has been used in an attempt to increase rainfall and snowfall, to suppress hail, to clear fogs, to modify tropical cyclones and to suppress lightning. The term "weather modification" is not normally used to describe inadvertent changes in our WEATHER.

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Pondweed

Pondweed is a common name for members of the family Potamogetonaceae [Gk potamos, "river"], which consists of the genus Potamogeton.

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Sea Ice

Sea ice formed by the freezing of seawater and floats on the surface of the polar oceans. Its coverage varies with the seasons; in the Northern Hemisphere sea ice ranges from a minimum of about 9 million km2 in September to a maximum of about 16 million km2 in March. In the Southern Hemisphere the range is from 3 million to 19 million km2, with the minimum and maximum coverage occurring in February and September respectively. The thickness of sea ice can vary from a few centimetres for newly formed ice in protected locations to 20 m or more in ridges; however, typical thicknesses are about 3 m in the Arctic and about 1 m in the Antarctic.

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Station PAPA

Station PAPA Ocean Weather Station "P" is commonly called Station PAPA after the code word for the letter P in the phonetic alphabet used by radio operators. Station PAPA is located in the N Pacific Ocean (50° N, 145° W) and has a water depth of 4200 m.

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Blizzard

In Canada the official national meteorological service definition of a blizzard is a period of 6 or more hours with winds above 40 km/h, with visibility reduced to below 1 km by blowing or drifting snow, and with windchills over 1600 W/ m2 (watts per square metre).