The days of Canada being known as the Great White North could soon be coming to an end.
According to a new study by NASA, giant portions of the Arctic tundra in both Canada and Alaska are “looking more like landscapes found in warmer ecosystems.” Between 1984 and 2012, the space agency reports that 30 per cent of our overall landmass has become greener, as temperatures rise as a result of global warming.
Over that same time period, three per cent of areas home to boreal forests have turned brown.
The tundra in Northern Quebec and Labrador seems to be the area that was most impacted by rising temperatures, as demonstrated through the deep shade of green in the image above.
So what does this all mean? NASA researchers didn’t get too specific, but the pattern of shrublands replacing tundras could have imacts on regional water supply as Arctic ice melts, energy in the form of newly-discovered oil patches and carbon cycles due to all of the extra plants that are now growing.
More concerningly, however, is whether or not Canadian forests will migrate with the warming temperatures. While shrublands seem to be thriving, boreal forests are already being damaged and NASA researchers say there hasn’t been “much evidence” to demonstrate that they will naturally grow northward as a result.
In theory, that could mean Canada’s forests could be largely replaced with shrublands over the next century. Given part of the Canadian identity is tied to tall trees and the great outdoors, this could completely change our country as we know it.
On the plus side though, we will also likely see an increase in available farmland. So, woohoo! to that.
Just don’t blame us for not breaking out the party hats.