Canadian Site Maps Climate Change...With Skating Rinks
BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, January 30 2013
Climate change has been measured in rivers and oceans, mapping the rise of the world’s temperature and the impact it holds for wildlife. Now a Canadian website is tracking global warming in the human ecosystem, with an unusual approach: recording the rates at which backyard skating rinks are freezing — or failing to freeze — this winter.
After researchers last year warned that Canada’s beloved pastime — the likes of which produced Wayne Gretzky — will be threatened by increasingly warm winters, RinkWatch was formed by a group at Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University. The site encourages hockey moms and dads to submit data about the skating conditions of their backyard rinks to an interactive map — so far more than 600 participants have contributed, not only from Canada’s southern provinces, but also from northern regions of the US.
Tracking skateable and non-skateable rinks throughout the month of January, the project has so far found significant correlation to median temperatures throughout the country. For Canadian contributors, seeing this data has had a powerful impact, as Robert McLeman, one of RinkWatch’s organizers, told the Ottawa Citzen:
The server crashed twice in the first week from heavy use…He realizes he should have anticipated the popularity: “It’s a story about nature, climate change, backyard skating, the weather — that’s just gravy for Canadians.” This is closer to home than climate stories about glaciers and polar bears.
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