Drought or not, it’s dry, hot and bad for crops: climatologist
Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:18PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 1, 2012 12:11AM EDT
Whether you call the current spell of hot and dry weather that’s afflicted much of Canada and the U.S. this summer a drought or not, it’s caused Ontario to seek financial help from the federal government.
Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV News Channel on Tuesday that while there is no standard definition of what constitutes a drought, the current weather conditions are causing distress among many of the country’s farmers.
“So hot, so dry -- this is what is exasperating the situation for farmers in many areas of Canada,” Phillips said.
Phillips also said that while it may seem like the current spell of dryness is a summer phenomenon, really it’s been a dry year.
“The seeds of this dryness have occurred long before this summer period,” he said.
Phillips said most of the country faced virtual “non-winters” this year, with the West recording its driest winter on record. Many parts of Canada also faced dry springs, said Phillips.
In response to these drought-like conditions Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, asked Ottawa to speed up tax relief for the livestock producers that live in the areas most affected by the drought.
McMeekin said the combination of the lack of rain, combined with sweltering temperatures are having negative effects on crops, especially in eastern Ontario.
The province also asked Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to help assess various support options for livestock producers.
Environment Canada said that while average July rainfall is 89 millimetres, only 12 millimetres have fallen this July.
McMeekin says farmers who feel their crops are impacted by the dry conditions will be protected from reductions in their AgriStability. They will also be protected if they are forced to sell livestock due to hay and pasture shortages.
McMeekin’s actions occurred days after a study by a group of scientists based out of the University of British Columbia warned that North America may face a period of severe droughts towards the latter half of the 21st century.
The study said that the frequency of extreme weather conditions have increased as a result of global warming.