Our Changing Climate
What is the climate of Prince Edward Island?
Prince Edward Island has a mild maritime climate, strongly influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Each year, the Island gets about 890 mm of rain and 290 cm of snow. The average temperature is -7 °C (19 °F) in January and 19 °C (67 °F) in July.
Is our climate changing?
Yes. Temperatures are about 0.5 °C warmer than they were 100 years ago. Most of this increase is happening in the winter. Prince Edward Island has also been drier in recent years, with less rain and snow falling. Sea level has risen by 30 cm since 1911.
What will our climate be in the future?
We can’t say for certain what PEI’s future climate will look like, but some reasonable descriptions or models have been developed. These are called climate scenarios. Using the scenarios, we can plan to maximize any benefits, and minimize any negative impacts, that climate change may bring.
Based on the latest climate scenarios (from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment and the UPEI Climate Lab), over the next 40 years we can expect:
- Warmer Temperatures: Warmer weather is on the way. Temperatures are expected to be, on average, 1.6 °C warmer by the 2050s.
- More Rain and Less Snow: It is likely that this rain and snow will fall less often than it does now. This means that on those days when it does come—we may experience heavy rainfall or snow rather than smaller accumulations over many days. Annual total precipitation (rain, snow, sleet) is expected to decrease, on average, by 6% by the 2020s, making it drier and more susceptible to drought conditions. Models show precipitation returning to today's normal by the 2080s.
- Rising Seas: Sea level will continue to rise. A recent hazard assessment for the Charlottetown waterfront suggested a sea level rise scenario of 73 cm by 2090. Storm surges are expected to reach farther inland, resulting in more frequent coastal flooding.
- Less Sea Ice: The Gulf of St. Lawrence is expected to be almost completely ice free by 2100. As sea ice levels decrease over the coming years, and as sea level continues to rise, PEI is expected to experience increased rates of coastal erosion.
Where can I get more information?
Climate scenarios have been developed for locations across Prince Edward Island using models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Assessment Report 4. For additional information on climate change models and scenarios, please contact the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island.