Ottawa in 2050: Temperature

Ottawa’s climate is already getting warmer. Between the mid-1940s and the mid-2010s the average temperature in Ottawa increased by 1.3 degrees Celsius.

This trend will continue in the future. Ottawa will be warmer year round, there will be more heatwaves and less extreme cold days.


What we are expecting

By the 2050s, under a high-emission scenario, temperature in the National Capital Region is projected to change in the following ways.

Increase in average temperatures in all seasons
The average temperature will increase by 3.2 degrees Celsius. No single season is projected to warm significantly faster than the others.

Less cold extremes
The number of days below -10 degrees Celsius will decrease by 35 per cent. That’s a decrease to 46 days per year from the current 71 days.

More warm extremes
There will be four times as many very hot days over 30 degrees Celsius. That’s an increase to 43 days per year from the current 11 days.

Increase in humidex
The number of days with high humidex levels will increase.

Shorter winters
Seasons will shift. Winter will be five weeks shorter, fall will start three weeks later and spring will start two weeks earlier.

More freeze-thaw
There will be 33 per cent more free-thaw events in winter.

You can find out more details of what to expect in the 2030s and 2080s in the Summary of the Future Climate in Canada’s Capital Region.


What are the potential impacts?

We can expect changes in temperature to have the following impacts in Ottawa:

Increase in heat related illnesses
More extreme heat means more heat related illnesses. Extreme heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death. High temperatures can put everyone at risk, especially people without good access to air conditioning. Health risks are greatest for:

  • infants
  • older adults
  • those who work or exercise outdoors
  • those with pre-existing health conditions
  • people experiencing homelessness

Increase in cases of Lyme disease, West Nile virus and possibly other diseases
Extended, warmer seasons means tick populations can grow, spread and be active longer. Ticks can carry Lyme Disease. Other vector borne illnesses such as West Nile virus which is spread by mosquitoes could also increase as the weather warms as well as other diseases that are not currently prevalent in our region.

Reduced winter recreation opportunities
Warmer winter temperatures mean thinner ice. Ottawa is also expected to get less snow and more winter rain. This means less opportunities for winter activities like cross-country skiing or skating. These winter activities provide immense value for locals, tourists and the economy.

Longer growing season
Longer warmer seasons could benefit agriculture, although variable precipitation and the risk of drought may cause additional challenges.

Changes in the natural environment
Warmer temperatures combined with more variable rainfall can impact the growth of trees and vegetation. Conditions may be more favourable for invasive species and other species may be at risk due to changing habitat.

Changing energy demands
The demand for energy is expected to shift seasonally as we require more cooling in the summer and less heating in the winter. In addition to reducing overall energy use in the winter, this could reduce the amount of wood burned for heat in some areas which would result in improved air quality.

Increased damage to roads and other infrastructure
More extreme heat and increased freeze-thaw cycles caused by warmer winters can cause damage to our roads and other infrastructure.

The impacts of climate change will be looked at in further detail as part of the climate vulnerability assessment.

Find out what the City is already doing to adapt to climate change.


Have your say

How will warmer temperatures affect you and your community? How can we prepare for these changes? Let us know by completing the survey.

Your input will help us assess how Ottawa is vulnerable to climate change and inform the development of the climate resiliency strategy.

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