Whether one believes in human-induced global warming or natural climate cycles, few can dispute the fact that people in much of Newfoundland and Labrador have been enjoying soaring temperatures so far this summer.
And the data from Environment Canada seems to bear it out, too.
“Different parts of the island were 65 to 70 per cent above normal for the months of July and into August,” said meteorologist Herb Thoms from Environment Canada’s Gander office. “There were some daily records set.”
This summer has been better in comparison to what much of the province had last year, with this year featuring warm weather and less than normal precipitation.
Most of the island kicked the season off with a really good start in May, according to Thoms. That was when parts of the province had its warmest temperatures of the summer.
“I think we were hitting temperatures that were the warmest since July 2010,” he added. “Here in Gander, we had a lot of mid to upper 20-degree temperatures in May.”
July also featured warmer-than-normal temperatures, and Thoms said there were several months this season where the island had the warmest temperatures.
One of the questions the meteorologist often hears asked is whether the odd temperatures being reported from many parts of the world relates to the issue of climate change. Climate has always been changing, but it is also very cyclical, Thoms said.
“We could be going into a warm period,” he explained. “But as for the amount of anthropogenic (human-caused) influence, how significant is that? The evidence is getting more and more convincing that the human impact is there.”
Environment Canada research is showing that water temperatures around the island have gone up three degrees above normal, all over Atlantic Canada, which is significant.
“Even looking into October, we’re looking at above normal temperatures for most of the country, including Atlantic Canada,” he said.
There are Environment Canada weather monitors in Gander and Badger. They started collecting record-breaking temperatures almost immediate: in Badger, on May 22, the mercury hit a monthly record of 31.8 degrees; on May 25, it was 25.4 degrees. June set another daily record in Badger with 28.1 degrees on June 13. The all time high in Badger was on June 17, 2000, when it reached 33.2 degrees.
For July, another record breaker for Badger was 30.5 degrees on July 1 and 29.5 degrees on July 2.
In August so far, there was another daily record, of 29.2 for August 4. For Badger last year, there were 22 days where temperatures were above 20 degrees, while this July, there were 30 days where temperatures were above 20.