Science Behind Everyday Life
From knowing whether to wear rain boots or flip flops, to enjoying a refreshing glass of water after being in the sun, Environment Canada’s science and technology affects our lives daily, often without us ever realizing it. Research at Environment Canada (EC) ensures that Canadians continue to enjoy the environmental, economical or social benefits of the environment, for today and in the future.
Protection from the sun with the UV index
The UV Index – developed by EC scientists – allows you to prepare for a fun and safe time in the sun.
Photo: Jim Moyes © Environment Canada, 2002
Many Canadians know to turn to the UV index before spending a day in the sun…but did you know that the UV index was created by Environment Canada scientists?
The UV Index was developed by EC scientists in 1992 as a health-protection tool for Canadians to gauge the strength of the ultraviolet radiation to which they are exposed. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are the sun rays that can cause sunburn. Long-term exposure to UV rays has been associated with skin aging, eye cataracts, weakening of the immune system, and skin cancer.
The amount of UV that you receive depends on both the strength of the sun's rays (measured by the UV index) and the amount of time you spend in the sun. The higher the UV index number, (the UV index is a 0 - 11+ scale) the stronger the sun's rays, and the greater the need to take sun safety precautions. In Canada, the UV Index generally ranges from 0 to 10.
How is the UV Index forecast calculated?
- The thickness of the ozone layer across Canada is forecasted using computer weather prediction models.
- These ozone thickness values are then adjusted based on observations from the nine ozone monitoring stations across Canada.
- This information, along with variables on latitude and time of year, is then fed into mathematical algorithms to produce the clear sky UV Index for each desired location. (An algorithm is a set of rules for solving a math problem)
- The cloud and precipitation forecasts are generated by meteorologists in each of the regional forecast centres across Canada and are assigned a transmission factor for atmospheric cloud conditions, which is then used to adjust the clear-sky UV forecast to obtain the actual daily UV forecast value.
EC research – such as this water sampling - ensures that Canadians can have clean drinking water flow freely from their taps.
Photo: Miles Constable © Environment Canada, 2005
Access to Clean Water
Did you know that Canadians are the second-highest water users in the world, at a per capita withdrawal of 3, 797 L per day?
Environment Canada researchers are constantly working to sustain and improve the quality of Canada’s freshwater bodies so that we may safely enjoy their many benefits.
Scientists determine water quality by the kinds and amounts of substances dissolved and suspended in the water and what those substances do to inhabitants of the ecosystem. It is the concentrations of these substances that determine the water quality and its suitability for particular purposes.
EC scientists are working in research facilities such as the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) , the St Lawrence Centre, and the Water Survey of Canada to understand and improve water quality within Canada. Check out the sites above to learn more about the specific research going on in each facility!
Forecasting the daily weather
EC’s weather forecasts help you prepare for the day…no matter what weather is in store.
Photo: James Hamilton © Environment Canada, 2002
“Weather” you’re just stepping outside for a few minutes or spending the whole weekend outdoors, the weather can make a big difference in your outdoor plans!
Environment Canada’s meteorologists at the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) issue daily weather forecasts and severe weather warnings, and also provide Canadians with a variety of specialized products and services so everyone can make their weather related decisions sooner and with greater confidence. Since 1871, the MSC has been providing the important service of informing Canadians about past, current and future weather conditions.
Environment Canada uses a combination of tools to create daily weather and severe weather forecasts. Weather satellites have become an indispensable tool for observing and forecasting weather, allowing meteorologists to see entire weather systems - even areas where weather observing stations are sparse, such as in the Arctic or over the ocean!
Doppler radars are also used to detect and locate precipitation in clouds and can measure the speed and direction of the motion of precipitation within storms. This information is vital in helping meteorologists forecast severe weather
Now with new and changing technologies within your own home, you can access weather information 24/7 online at Weatheroffice.gc.ca, on Weatheradio or use your regular or wireless telephone to receive weather and severe weather warnings.
Learn about Environment Canada's hundreds of scientists, engineers, meteorologists, climatologists, technicians and specialists who are working hard to forecast and study our ever-changing weather conditions, so that you can be better prepared for what the weather brings: http://science.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=9FD87A10-1
Learn more about the ways science and technology have an impact on your daily life by exploring Environment Canada’s S&T pages.
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- Science research conducted at Environment Canada has an impact on everyday life.
- UV index used around the world was first developed by Environment Canada scientists.
- Environment Canada researchers are constantly working to sustain and improve Canada’s freshwater quality.
- Environment Canada meteorologists at the Meteorological Service of Canada issue daily weather forecasts and severe weather warnings.
- Learn more about the ways science and technology have an impact on your daily life by exploring Environment Canada’s S&T pages!
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