Tech & Science

Ice sculptors say they’re not worried about losing their craft to climate change – Ottawa

As part of an annual festival celebrating winter, Ottawa’s Sparks Street has been lined with ice sculptures depicting everything from animals and flowers to the Tim Hortons Cup for the past few weeks.

But by the time Winterlude ended last weekend, some of those works of art had been rendered almost imperceptible by Mother Nature.

This is the result of last week’s rain combined with three consecutive days of temperatures above 4°C.

Average temperatures for this time of February are just below -8 degrees Celsius, said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada.

For many ice sculptors, a changing climate means learning new ways to adapt.

Mowafak Nema, who came second in a Winterlude ice sculpture contest, said many sculptors are used to fighting the elements.

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“If the weather is too warm, there are methods that we use, and if the weather is too cold, there are methods that we use,” Nema said.

Nema also competed in unseasonably warm weather in Edmonton this winter, which made carving very difficult. He said the temperature forced the sculptor to let go of his tools, causing him to lose an entire day of the three-day competition.

To preserve the work, the artist covered it with a tarp and used dry ice and snow to preserve and cool the work.

Nema says she has faced the weather ever since she can remember.

“We don’t see a drastic change in the weather,” he said. “The weather is very ups and downs, so it’s unpredictable.”

But science shows that Canadian winters are warming faster than other seasons. According to Phillips, average winter temperatures have risen by 3.3 C today compared to 1947-48, when average summer temperatures increased by 1.5 C for him.

Phillips said climate change will continue to have a major impact on winters, with fewer days below freezing and winters starting later and ending earlier.

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Phillips said Ottawa used to have about 28 “really cold days” in winter, but now has 15 or 16 days each year.

“By 2080, the model seems to suggest about five,” he said.

It’s still a long way off, but climate change in the near future will bring more temperature fluctuations and extreme weather events.

“I can’t get over this idea that we can’t count on the weather anymore. We used to have hot summers and cold winters, but now transitional seasons have taken over some of these major seasons. seems to be,” said Phillips.

As to whether this mid-winter thaw is a sign of what’s to come, Phillips sees it as a rehearsal for what could become the norm in the next 30 to 40 years.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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