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Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011

The North - Regional Highlights

January’s Arctic Mildness

In the eastern Arctic, the year began as 2010 ended – with record warmth. A strong blocking high-pressure ridge over the Labrador Sea deflected weather systems from the mild Atlantic north over the eastern Arctic. High temperature records were smashed in various locations, including Iqaluit, Hall Beach, Pond Inlet, Cape Dorset, and Coral Harbour. On January 6, Rankin Inlet reached a balmy -3.4°C, beating the old record for that day of -11.3°C two years earlier. Other records included Cape Dorset at -1.4°C, Coral Harbour at 0.2°C, and Baker Lake at -9.1°C. On January 5 and 6, Coral Harbour inched above the freezing mark. Before 2011, temperatures above freezing had never occurred at any time during the three-month period of January, February and March. On January 4, it was 6°C in Pangnirtung, which set a monthly record. With no ice to stage events, fireworks for New Year’s Eve in Pang were shot from a boat in the water, and the year-end snowmobile run on Frobisher Bay had to be cancelled in Iqaluit for the first time. Worst of all, residents could not venture safely onto the ice to hunt for the second winter in a row.

Arctic Ozone Hole Growing

International research scientists reported that a gaping hole in the ozone layer occurred above the Arctic in 2011. The hole, covering about 2 million square kilometres, was about twice the size of Ontario and allowed high levels of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation to destroy large swaths of the protective ozone layer over northern Canada, Europe, and Russia this spring. The unprecedented amount of ozone lost was comparable to that destroyed in Antarctica in recent years, even though the Arctic hole was much smaller in size. Scientists found that the cold spring in the polar stratospheric layer, extending about 15 to 35 km above the surface, lasted a month longer, enabling harmful compounds more time to deplete the ozone.

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