Record Ottawa River Flooding From Climate Change

Record Ottawa River Flooding From Climate Change // Published on May 8, 2017

In July, 2013 downtown Calgary had record flooding with insured losses exceeding $6 Billion. Three weeks later, extensive Toronto flooding from torrential rains cost more than $1 Billion.

Now it is Ottawa’s turn, along with Gatineau and Montreal and many other regions in Ontario and Quebec.

It is surprisingly simple to connect all these events, although you may not like the explanation.
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Paul is quoted, in The National Observer here:  ‘Here are the climate science benchmarks of the Quebec floods‘:

We’re in a Climate Change Emergency
Such extreme weather is much more likely now because of climate change, scientists say.  As the greenhouse gas effect warms the planet, they say floods, droughts, mudslides and other extreme weather events are expected to occur more often, and with greater ferocity.

“Climate change is a global problem, but the reason we care about it is because it’s impacting us in the places where we live,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a Canadian who is the co-director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.  “It’s taking these weather patterns that we’ve seen before and…putting them on steroids, so to speak.”


Paul Beckwith, who works on climatology in the Department of Geography at the University of Ottawa, also said flooding is being exacerbated by the “whiplash” of extremely wet or dry weather that is the result of climate change [Clausius-Clapeyron rate].

We’re getting a lot more extreme weather events around the planet, whether that be torrential rains leading to flooding, or really hot and dry temperatures leading to drought,” he said.

These extreme weather events are much more severe, much more intense, they last longer, they’re happening more frequently, and they’re happening in areas where they didn’t happen before.”


Rapidly rising water comes dangerously close on May 8, 2017 to the Chaudière Bridge near the Canadian War Museum on the Ottawa River. Photo by Alex Tétreault

He said the root cause was that the Arctic was warming faster than any other global hotspot. As white sea ice and snow cover give way to darker permafrost or open ocean, the process accelerates.

I’ve been saying we’re in a climate change emergency, and therefore we have to respond as if it’s in an emergency,” he said.

That means eliminating fossil fuel emissions, a major driver of climate change, as a very first step, Beckwith added.


About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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2 Responses to Record Ottawa River Flooding From Climate Change

  1. Eve Simmons says:

    Thank you, for speaking out Paul. Your voice is needed.


  2. bill says:

    If we eliminate fossil fuels 100% our Global Industrial Civilisation collapses with perhaps some billions dying. There are no equivalent energy at scale substitutes available. Even the so called “renewable” energy alternatives depend on fossil fuels somewhere. This is a well known dilemma or as they say: We’re darned if we do and we’re darned if we don’t.


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