Extreme weather

Climate change causes severe storms that damage our homes, crops, and cost more than hundreds of millions in insurance claims.

The reality is

It harms our trees and forests:

  • temperature variability in Spring 2007 and 2012 caused freezing damage to boreal forests in Northern Ontario. Above-average spring temperatures led to the evergreen trees losing their cold hardiness early, resulting in needle loss and bud injury when the weather turned cold again days laterfootnote 1

    • in the six years after the 2007 cold snap, 30% of evergreen trees did not survive

It damages your property and raises insurance premiums:

  • the severe ice storm in December 2013 resulted in $200 million of property damage in Ontario
    • Toronto lost an estimated 20% of its tree canopy during the stormfootnote 2
  • Thunder Bay declared a state of emergency in May 2012 after being hit by a series of thunderstorms, flooding basements of homes and businesses due to overwhelmed sewer and storm water system
an apple some grapes and a glass of wine

Food and drink

Climate change is already impacting Ontario’s crop production and can significantly alter the types of crops grown in the future.

The reality is

It raises the cost of food:

  • temperature and precipitation fluctuations may disrupt agricultural seasons and threaten the viability of the agricultural sector
  • this will impact Ontario’s food security, including production, access and price

It damages fruit and wine grape crops:

  • grape growers in the Niagara region reported crop damage to Merlot, Sauvignon Banc and Syrah varieties in Winter 2014 caused by the effects of extreme cold weather
  • March 2012 was so warm, apple trees bloomed early, but then lost 80% of their fruit because of a severe frost two months later
  • Ontario’s food webs, biodiversity, ecosystems and the timing of seasonal cycles are being affected, including cherry trees blooming and birds nesting
a mountain lake and river

Lakes and rivers

Rising air temperatures and other climate changes are resulting in warmer waters and changes to water quality and balance.

The reality is

It affects coldwater fish species and their habitat:

  • warming streams and lakes could result in significant loss of lake trout and brook trout as their thermal tolerances are exceeded, or as their oxygen-rich habitat is lost

It increases the risk of algal blooms and accelerated aquatic plant growth:

  • warmer waters, longer ice-free periods and changes to lake mixing may be contributing to the increase in algal bloom reports across Ontario
  • potentially can further accelerate the growth of aquatic plants caused by high phosphorus loading

It affects ice fishing opportunities and safety:

  • the area of all the Great Lakes covered in ice has declined between 1970 and 2013, with the greatest decline on Lake Superior (by 42%), followed by Lake Ontario (by 32%), Erie (by 25%), Michigan (by 21%) and Huron (by 19%)footnote 3
  • ice is breaking up earlier in the spring and forming later in the winter in many water bodies
extreme heat

Rising temperatures

The rise in average temperatures leads to more widespread extreme weather events like severe storms, flooding and heat waves.

Scientists project that, under the business as usual emission scenario the average annual temperature in Ontario could increase by about 3.3°C above its 1986-2005 average by mid-century, with more significant warming expected in Northern Ontario.

The reality is