Windsor will see hotter days for longer periods of time, report shows

·3 min read
A new report shows the City of Windsor will see hotter days for longer periods of time in the near future. The city says it's working to mitigate that.  (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
A new report shows the City of Windsor will see hotter days for longer periods of time in the near future. The city says it's working to mitigate that. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

More frequent hot days, hotter highs, and longer heat waves are predicted for the City of Windsor by the 2050s, according to a new report.

In recent history, Windsor has had about 22 days each year when the temperature gets up to at least 30 C.

But if climate change continues unchecked, these very hot days will be more frequent, according to projections in a new report from the University of Waterloo's Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation. Windsor could see 30 C days 79 times a year by the 2050s.

The report also predicts the hottest day of the summer each year will be close to 40 C. Currently, the city's hottest days average 34 C.

The average length of a heat wave is expected to rise from four days, to 10 days.

This report calls on individuals and communities to take steps to adapt, so the risks from extreme heat are reduced.

Karina Richters, the City of Windsor's supervisor of sustainability and climate change, said the projections are similar to research the city has and is using to plan for the future.

"It actually just reinforces the trends and the projections the city has been looking at for ten years now," said Richters. "These numbers are just a tad bit higher."

Richters said the city is also looking at warmer nights, with about 55 nights per year that will not drop below 22 C.

The city has been working with Health Canada and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, to understand the issues and look at different strategies.

Kerri Breen/CBC
Kerri Breen/CBC

"Basically we have to look at our vulnerable areas in the city and see what is the need and what do we need to do," said Richters.

An urban heat map shows city officials which community may be most at-risk to the heat and may need cooling structures or infrastructure to mitigate the heat.

Splash pads and drinking foundations are part of the city's parks master plan to help with the heat.

The city also has plans to work with homeowners on energy retrofits for their homes.

"Not everybody has an air conditioner and that's going to be a point in the future," said Richters.

Tree-planting is also on the list, however the city is currently exploring which varieties of trees may not survive the heat in 20 or 30 years, and which varieties may be able to sustain the city's new climate.

Large drop in green spaces

Green space in Windsor shrunk by nearly 30 per cent when researchers with Statistics Canada compared satellite images from 2011 to 2019.

The drop in green space coverage, one of the largest tracked, is consistent with what the study found in cities across Canada.

"There was an overall decrease in the greenness levels," said Jennie Wang, who worked on the report for Statistics Canada as chief of dissemination in the environment statistics program.

Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada

The dip is something that's consistent with recent trends in Windsor, such as increased development to meet housing demands and the disastrous effects of the emerald ash borer.

According to the study, satellite images show Windsor's green space growing from 76 percent in 2001 to 85 percent of its area in 2011.

But there was a dramatic drop in green space coverage to 56 per cent in 2019.

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