Canada's territories broke 166 daily temperature records this summer

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The sun begins to set just over the horizon, during a summer's day in Yukon.  (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)
The sun begins to set just over the horizon, during a summer's day in Yukon. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)

The wave of heat that settled over Northern Canada this summer brought temperatures that smashed records in dozens of communities across Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Data from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows between June 1 and Aug. 22, 166 daily temperature records were broken across the three territories.

The lion's share — 92 of them — were in Nunavut across 20 communities. Twenty-three records were broken in Yukon across 10 communities, and 51 in the N.W.T. across 16 communities.

In Taloyoak, Nunavut, there were nine days this summer that broke heat records — including the all-time hottest temperature ever recorded there of 26 C on July 13.

Temperatures in the hamlet first began being recorded in 1951, according to Sarah Hoffman, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Hoffman said there's a shorter period of record across the North, compared to the rest of Canada.

"They might just not have caught a warm spell like this before in the record, but with the sheer number of them, I think we can rule that out," she said.

"In general, across the [territories], I think what we are seeing is a much warmer-than-normal summer — and not just in a few sites."

The biggest leaps in temperature all happened in Nunavut.

On June 21, Taloyoak reached 17.7 C, beating the previous record from 1974 by 5.5 degrees.

On June 22, Kugaaruk hit 20.3 C — 6.4 degrees higher than the previous record set in 1974.

On July 14, Taloyoak again set a major daily heat record of 25.4 — 6.3 degrees higher than the previous record from 2007.

Hoffman said the spread of the heat — as far southeast as Haines Junction, Yukon, and as far northwest as the Alert military base on the very tip of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut — is also noteworthy.

"The points of the communities are kind of few and far between, so to break so many [records] across so few communities is pretty significant," she said.

There were only six days in June, and 10 days in July, where records weren't being broken in one of the territories. By Aug. 22, there had been seven days that month without heat records.