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High Arctic Weather Stations

High Arctic Weather Stations, managed by the Monitoring and Science Division, Prairie and Northern Region of Environment Canada, began as the Joint Arctic Weather Stations. The plan for a network of Arctic weather bases was approved by the US on 12 February 1946, and on 28 January 1947 Cabinet formally agreed to participate. Between 1947 and 1950, five sites were selected and built jointly by Canada and the US (at Eureka, Isachsen, Mould Bay, Resolute and Alert) to provide the data required for the understanding and prediction of meteorological phenomena on a hemispheric scale and, more specifically, to improve weather predictions for North America. The meteorological data collected is also used by forecasting offices, airlines, northern shipping, climatology studies and research.

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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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Heat Wave

A heat wave is usually defined as a period of 3 or more consecutive days with temperatures of 32° C or higher. High HUMIDITY is not a requisite, yet most, but not the worst, heat waves are oppressively humid.

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Pollution

Pollution can be defined as the release of any material, energy or organism that may cause immediate or long-term harmful effects to the natural ENVIRONMENT. Pollution was viewed initially as the unsightly mess or visible environmental damage resulting from careless disposal of various materials.

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Climate Change

Climate change occurs when long-term weather patterns begin to shift. These periods of change have occurred throughout the Earth’s history over extended periods of time. However, since the Industrial Revolution the world has been warming at an unprecedented rate. Because of this, the current period of climate change is often referred to as “global warming.” Human activities that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are largely responsible for this increased rate of change. The implications of this global increase in temperature are potentially disastrous and include extreme weather events, rising sea levels and loss of habitat for plants, animals and humans. In Canada, efforts to mitigate climate change include phasing-out coal-fired power plants in Ontario and instituting a carbon tax in British Columbia.

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Climate Severity

 Environment Canada devised the climate severity index to rate a locality's climate according to human comfort and well being. The index has a range from 1 to 100, with a score of 1 representing the least severe climate and 100 the most.

Macleans

Global Warming Crisis

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on February 21, 2000. Partner content is not updated.

Across the Arctic, the ominous signs are everywhere. With average temperatures in some parts of the Canadian North rising at the rate of about 1° C each decade, glaciers are in retreat. Scientists report a dramatic thinning of the Polar ice cap.