On thin ice: Study shows climate change could shut down outdoor skating rinks
There might not be anything as quintessentially Canadian as hockey on the pond.
But a new study suggests future generations of Canadians may have to stick to indoor skating rinks instead.
Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University say that climate change may eventually shorten the outdoor skating season by as much as a third, depending on location.
“The length of the outdoor skating season is going to shrink and the amount of shrinkage will depend on where you live,” said researcher Robert Mcleman. “If you live in Calgary, you’ll probably find that outdoor skating seasons are 20 per cent shorter by the end of this century.”
Toronto and Montreal, he said, will likely lose about a third of your outdoor skating season.
Last year, there were seven straight weeks of ideal conditions for outdoor skating rinks.
Outdoor rink enthusiasts say they're already noticing a difference with this year’s milder winter.
“The first thing you need is -10 C,” said Russell Geinapp, who makes the rink at Toronto’s Greenwood Park. “If it’s not -10 C, you might as well not bother."
To reach their finding, researchers examined data on daily conditions, submitted by skaters at more than 900 outdoor rinks. Researchers combined that information with temperature records from nearby weather stations and compared the data with simulations of future temperatures.
“Outdoor rinks won’t completely disappear from Canada -- that was one of our fears -- but what it does show is that, in many parts of Canada…the season is going to become so short that it will become a labour of love to maintain an outdoor rink,” Mcleman said.
But outdoor rink enthusiasts say they have no plans to give up just yet.
“We’re going to make it until it doesn’t make sense to make it anymore,” Geinapp said. “We’re just waiting for the weather to co-operate.”
Researchers said they hope the study will also help better illustrate the effects of climate change to people who live in urban environments.