Coming to a community near you: An update on Prince Edward Island’s coastal erosion

Essentially a large sandbar made up of primarily sand and sandstone, Prince Edward Island is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially coastal erosion, sea-level rise, and storm surges. Islanders are particularly worried about their homes and cottages built close to the water’s edge.

The Government of Prince Edward Island and the University of Prince Edward Island have come together to survey PEI’s changing coastline every year and build a number of tools that allow Islanders to understand their property’s vulnerability to coastal erosion.

Dr. Adam Fenech, University of Prince Edward Island’s Climate Lab, is touring the province to speak about coastal erosion and the vulnerability of Island communities to climate change, and to show the tools available for understanding this vulnerability.

One of these tools is a new, revamped version of CLIVE (CoastaL Impacts Visualization Environment), the internationally award-winning videogame that allows Islanders to fly over PEI, raise and lower sea levels, and click on-and-off coastal erosion rates.

“The UPEI Climate Lab will visit eight communities in early July to showcase the new CLIVE,” said Fenech, “which has been shown scientifically to increase the knowledge and awareness of coastal issues, increase people’s concern about coastal issues, and most importantly, increase their willingness to take action against climate change.”

CLIVE uses a videogame interface that combines available coastal survey data, historical records, and predictive climate change models, and translates them into a 3-dimensional geovisual information tool that can be explored and queried by non-scientist stakeholders. It allows citizens of an entire Canadian province to explore past environmental change, and how climate change may impact coastal communities due to sea-level rise at various scales.

CLIVE won an international award in 2014 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for communicating coastal risk and resilience, and the 2014 Murray Pinchuk Community Builder Award recognizing the highest standard of community building in the public and private realms, and efforts to develop a coastal erosion visualization tool and work to share ideas on how best to adapt to coastal erosion and sea level rise. This new CLIVE is a significant improvement on the past, said Fenech.

Fenech has worked extensively in the area of climate change for 36 years and has edited eight books on climate change. He was featured in a book published last year titled Inspiring Canadians: Forty Brilliant Canadians and Their Visions for the Nation. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal (Prince Edward Island) created to celebrate the 70th anniversary year of Queen Elizabeth’s Accession to the Throne, for his “positive impact on the preservation of the environment.”

The following is a schedule for the CLIVE travelling roadshow:

July 2, 2024, 3:00 to 4:30 pm: Beaconsfield Carriage House, 2 Kent Street, Charlottetown, PEI
July 2, 2024, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Victoria Historic Schoolhouse, 730 Victoria Road, Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI
July 3, 2024, 3:00 to 4:30 pm, The Pavilion, Historic St. Mary’s Church, 1374 Hamilton Road, Kensington, PEI
July 3, 2024, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Eliyahou Wellness Centre, 20 Recreation Street, North Rustico, PEI
July 4, 2024, 3:00 to 4:30 pm, Wind Energy Institute of Canada, 21741 Route 12, Tignish, PEI
July 4, 2024,7:00 to 8:30 pm, West Point Harbourside Centre, 159 Cedar Dunes Park, West Point, PEI
July 5, 2024, 3:00 to 4:30 pm, The Lodge, 1358 Souris Line Road, Souris, PEI
July 5, 2024, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Dr. Roddie Community Centre, 5549 St. Peter’s Road, St. Peter’s Bay, PEI
For more information, please contact

This update to CLIVE has been supported with funding from the Government of Prince Edward Island and the Government of Canada through the Research and Knowledge Initiative.

PEI Tourism is Down? Blame the Weather

By Dr. Adam Fenech, University of Prince Edward Island

There were reports last week that tourism on Prince Edward Island has been down for some operators during the month of July. This decrease has been attributed to inflation, problems with the ferry boat, and back-to-back natural disasters in Nova Scotia, with wildfires in June and flooding in July.

Although I may be a bit biased being a trained climatologist, I attribute our tourism woes to the weather. Summer tourists like to visit when the sun is shining and there is not a trace of precipitation to be seen. This hotter and drier weather has been shown scientifically to be the preferred weather conditions for outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking or playing golf, and also for visiting Prince Edward Island’s iconic beaches – arguably the best in the world.

In fact, Brenda Jones and Daniel Scott from the University of Waterloo have used regression analysis on the number of rounds of golf played at a Burlington, Ontario golf course to determine that outdoor recreators prefer average daily temperatures that are not too cold (above 18 degrees Celsius) yet not too hot (below 28 degrees Celsius). And precipitation reduces the number of the rounds of golf played by about 20 percent when the daily rainfall is between 0.1 and 2.5 millimetres, by about 35 percent when the daily rainfall is between 2.6 and 5.0 millimetres, and by 100 percent if the daily rainfall is above 10 millimetres. When it rains heavily above 20 millimetres in a day, no rounds of golf are played the following day either, presumably because the course is too wet.

When we examine the total rainfall records for the month of July this year of 155 millimetres, we can see that it is more than double the climate normal of 74 millimetres for this month. And August will not be much better. It is halfway through the month of August and we have already seen three rainfall events greater than 20 millimetres (August 5, 9 and 11).

So why was this past July wetter than normal. Look no further than the El Niño event which occurs when surface waters in parts of the Pacific Ocean warm and push east toward the west coast of the Americas, causing changes in the jet stream across North America. That means above normal rainfall for eastern Canada.

The above average rainfall certainly has a role to play in last-minute tourist bookings in particular, which seem to be down for the month of July. International travellers seem to be coming back, but regional tourism appears to have dropped. That has a big impact on the overall tourism numbers for Prince Edward Island because about 60 per cent of Prince Edward Island’s tourism market is from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Perhaps before blaming inflation, problems with the ferry boat, or natural disasters in Nova Scotia for lower than expected tourist numbers, we should look to the weather. Perhaps a Tourism Weather Index specific to Prince Edward Island could be developed that could help us understand the influence of temperature and rainfall on the number of summer tourists visiting Prince Edward Island. We could report such a PEI Tourism Weather Index weekly to keep track of the weather’s influence on tourists coming to Prince Edward Island.

Dr. Fenech awarded Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal

Dr. Adam Fenech, Associate Professor in the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Prince Edward Island, has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal (Prince Edward Island) created to celebrate the 70th anniversary year of Queen Elizabeth’s Accession to the Throne, for his “positive impact on the preservation of the environment.” Dr. Fenech has devoted himself to making Prince Edward Island a better place by making a significant contribution to the preservation of Prince Edward Island’s environment. Dr. Fenech brought his many years of climate change expertise (35 years and counting) to the Island a decade ago, and focused on understanding PEI’s vulnerability, impacts and adaptation to climate change. He has worked tirelessly in bringing his results to Islanders through numerous presentations, media interviews and research which has led to Prince Edward Island being one of the most advanced jurisdictions in the world addressing climate change. Through his MIT award-winning visualization tool – CoastaL Impacts Visualization Environment – Dr. Fenech has helped Islanders understand their vulnerability to sea level rise, storm surges and coastal erosion. The CLIVE technology has been exported to the City of Los Angeles sending the message that leading edge technology created on the Island can be spread around the world. He has led the establishment of two surveillance networks keeping watch over Prince Edward Island’s environment including a weather and climate early warning system, and a storm surge early warning system that help keep Islanders safe and secure from the impacts of climate change. Dr. Fenech created a Bachelor of Science in Climate Change and Adaptation program at the University of Prince Edward Island, the first of its kind in the world, that educates the climate warriors of tomorrow. Dr. Fenech has recently been featured as one of the Forty Brilliant Canadians and Their Visions for the Nation.

Forest Fire Alert Post Hurricane Fiona

By Dr. Adam Fenech, University of Prince Edward Island

I do not need to tell you about Hurricane Fiona from last September, the large, powerful, and destructive Atlantic hurricane that was the most intense post-tropical cyclone to hit Canada on record. Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane, where our climate station network across Prince Edward Island measured wind speeds of up to 169.9 km/h at East Point during Fiona’s wrath. Fiona brought damage with thousands of fallen trees unprecedented during our lifetime. Officials from the Government of Prince Edward Island say they will ramp up post-Fiona cleaning efforts this Spring, six months after the destructive post-tropical storm hit the Island, but experts warn that addressing the damage to our forests caused by the storm might take many more years.

My concern lies with the amount of dead trees and branches laying across Prince Edward Island that have not been cleaned up coming off a particularly dry Winter and two months of Spring. Our climate normal for precipitation for the months of December, January and February (our Winter) is 302 millimetres (mm) of rain and snow, but only 165 mm, or 55 percent of our normal, fell during the Winter of 2023. This is similar for the months of March (32 percent drier) and April (65 percent drier) which were both drier than normal. I am calling for an alert because if we do not have a wet Summer, we may be sitting on a tinderbox ready to burn.

The Climate Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island has examined forest fires as a potential hazard under climate change. Our results show that when the Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) was in the “extreme” and “high” danger classes doubled over the past 60 years (1961 to 2021) from 7 to 14 days per year, and is expected to increase another 7 days per year over the next 60 years.

Forest fires can be catastrophic to Prince Edward Island. Lennox Island and surrounding areas of Prince Edward Island were devastated by forest fires that burned in the late summer of 1960. Over 1,000 fire fighters fought long and hard to contain the damage but the loss of houses, barns and property was inevitable. Newspapers at the time considered it the largest fire‐fighting effort in Island history with even the people of Charlottetown being affected by the immense clouds of smoke.

Forestry officials at the province are concerned that debris from post-tropical storm Fiona has created conditions that could lead to more forest fires. Prince Edward Island has not dealt with any major forest fires for some time but consistently responds to smaller fires that have the potential to spread rapidly. Almost three years ago, with no substantial rain during the months of July and August, and the Fire Weather Index listed as “extreme” for the region, a field fire along North Freetown Road broke out. It was extinguished before it could take hold at the treeline.

So as we continue to clean up the trees and branches damaged by Fiona, take special care to ensure that they do not become fuel for a larger forest fire. And watch the skies while praying for rain.

Weather Predictions for PEI’s 2022-23 Winter

By Dr. Adam Fenech and Dr. Xander Wang

As the Bank of Canada warns Canadians to brace for a rough economic winter, Islanders are also asking what the weather will be like this winter.

Environment Canada uses climate models to forecast seasonal weather. Climate models are mathematical equations strung together that describe the chemistry and physics of the Earth’s climate system. These equations are calculated using the largest computers in the country, known as supercomputers. Environment Canada forecast average temperatures for the coming winter (December, January, February) for PEI to be “above normal,” with precipitation (snow and rain) “normal” for the Island.

We all know people who swear by almanacs when forecasting the seasonal weather, so we took a look at the predictions from two of them. The 2023 Harrowsmith’s Almanac says the winter will “close to normal” when it comes to temperature but precipitation should be slightly “above normal” with many storms. The 2023 Old Farmer’s Almanac has forecast the PEI winter climate this year to be “above average” temperatures and precipitation.

Our own research at the University of Prince Edward Island’s Climate Lab examining 150 years of weather observations in Charlottetown has shown that the climate has definitely become warmer and drier, especially over the past 10-15 years or so. And that’s where we put our forecast each winter – to continue the trend and be “warmer and drier”.

This inability to forecast seasons accurately is because the year-to-year climate is variable – it goes up and down. Climate is nature’s merry-go-round so it is often difficult to predict the coming season even with supercomputers, secret formulas or historical trends. To emphasize this point, we flipped coins to see what Lady Fortune’s forecast for the winter will be – the result being “warmer and wetter”. So there are many forecasts made but only one will be correct.

2022-23 Prince Edward Island Winter Weather Predictions
SourceTemperaturePrecipitation (rain and snow)
UPEI Climate Labwarmer (+)drier (-)
Environment Canadawarmer (+)normal (=)
Harrowsmith’s Almanacnormal (=)wetter (+)
Old Farmer’s Almanacwarmer (+)wetter (+)
Chance (Flip a coin)warmer (+)wetter (+)

There is a consensus among the many sources pointing to normal or warmer Winter temperatures this year, but no agreement on the precipitation, although the majority points to a wetter Winter than normal. Over the past ten years of predictions, no one of these sources have been “bang on” in predicting the winter climate – the best has been following the long-term climate trends of “warmer and drier” but this only worked five out of the past ten years, and really missed the Island’s savage winter of 2015. Normally, a PEI winter (the months of December, January and February) averages -6 degrees Celsius and receives about 303 millimetres of precipitation, that’s rain or snow. The 2020-21 Winter was warmer than normal (-2.75 degrees Celsius, or 3.25 degrees warmer) and wetter than normal (407 millimetres, or about 34 percent wetter than normal). This matched the predictions of the Harrowsmith’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac; and for the first time in ten years,the flipped coins were correct.

UPEI Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation officially opened

The new UPEI Climate Centre at St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island

On May 19, 2022, the UPEI Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation was officially opened in St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island, by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of Defence and Member of Parliament for Cardigan, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; the Honourable Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island; and Dr. Greg Keefe, President and Vice-Chancellor (interim) of the University of Prince Edward Island.

Announced in July 2019, the 45,000-square-foot facility houses the UPEI School of Climate Change and Adaptation, the UPEI Climate Lab, and state-of-the-art research centres of excellence, including the Centre of Excellence in Food Security and Sustainability. It includes research, innovation, and collaboration space; a residence for senior students and visiting faculty; storage and repair space for equipment and UPEI’s fleet of drones—the largest at any Canadian university; and common areas designed to encourage interaction and integration of the research focus areas.

The facility is a living laboratory that allows world-class researchers and graduate and undergraduate students access to nearby wetlands, forests, and coastal habitats directly affected by climate change. The site provides access to high-quality datasets, multidisciplinary research teams, outstanding graduate and postdoctoral fellows, and engaged industry, community, and government partners.

“This is a proud day for PEI and for Canada,” said Minister MacAulay. “The Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation will transform rural Prince Edward Island and set the standard for climate-change education and skills development to help mitigate and adapt to climate change on PEI, in Canada, and around the world. The Centre will also drive innovation in green technology, contributing to Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. We are committed to investing in education, research, and technology that will create a greener environment for generations to come.”

“The need to better understand the impacts of climate change, and build resiliency into every aspect of our society, will be crucial in the years ahead,” added Minister Petitpas Taylor. “ACOA is pleased to support the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation in St. Peter’s Bay that will form a cluster of discovery mobilizing expertise on climate change and adaptation that will spur innovation across Atlantic Canada and beyond.” 

“As Islanders, we are deeply connected to our land, water, air, and communities. There is tremendous opportunity to address the challenges of climate change by approaching it differently and collaboratively,” said Premier King. “Investing in the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation is an important step that will build on our current efforts, while preparing future generations of leaders in climate change and adaptation to further reduce impacts to our environment.”

“The Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation provides an interactive environment where new knowledge, research, and development for climate change innovation and adaptive solutions are nurtured within a collaborative multi-disciplinary model,” said Dr. Keefe. “The Centre has a key role to play in the discovery of solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change on our coastal areas and the health of our populations and industry—solutions that are applicable beyond our shores. On behalf of UPEI, I thank Minister MacAulay, Premier King, and their respective governments for supporting this important facility.”

The Centre supports key learning programs including UPEI’s Bachelor of Science in Applied Climate Change and Adaptation, preparing graduates to continue the important work of mitigating the effects of climate change after graduation.

Adam Fenech, an associate professor in the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at UPEI, said the new centre will focus on climate change education and skills development to help mitigate and adapt to climate change on P.E.I. and around the world.

“It’s incredible because it’s a brand new climate centre that brings together research and teaching and industry partnerships looking at climate change impacts and adaptation. It’s designed to help us live with climate change, both its positive and negative impacts.”

The governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island and UPEI have invested over $14 million in this project through the New Building Canada Fund – Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component. The Government of Canada, through ACOA, has contributed over $3.3 million to establish the Centre of Excellence in Food Security and Sustainability, while land for the facility was donated to the University by the Flynn, Keenan, and MacKay families.

UPEI climate scientist featured in new book as one of Canada’s ‘Forty Brilliant Canadians’

Dr. Adam Fenech, associate professor in the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Prince Edward Island, is featured in a recently published book titled Inspiring Canadians: Forty Brilliant Canadians and Their Visions for the Nation.

Author Mark Bulgutch, an award-winning CBC journalist and producer, collected inspiring stories and ideas from forty brilliant and influential Canadians whose love for Canada compels them to make this country a better place for all. The book celebrates visions of a more sustainable, equitable, welcoming, and fun country, from Canadians who believe in the possibility of an even better future.

In the book, Fenech discusses climate change and the need to act immediately to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare for inevitable climate changes through adaptation. “We live our lives very dependent on fossil fuels, and it’s very difficult to transition away,” he says. “It’s a real challenge to undertake. Some say we Canadians shouldn’t even try because China is still polluting, and India is still polluting, and Brazil is still polluting. But we all have a responsibility.”

Fenech is celebrating his 10-year anniversary on PEI. He was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, the only Canadian-born in an immigrant family. He completed his PhD at the University of Toronto, worked for Environment Canada for 25 years, and came to UPEI as a climate researcher. He is married to a potato farmer’s daughter from western PEI.

He gives a warning about the impending climate crisis in the book. “We are fortunate being in Canada. We have a lot of land and a lot of resources. We can adapt. We can change things. We’re not migrating just to find food. But there are huge times of uncertainty ahead. All of the scientific literature points to the year 2050 as the year everything goes to hell in a handcart. That’s like tomorrow. If you think that’s an exaggeration, let me remind you that scientists are a very conservative bunch. None of the folks I know are fear-mongers. In fact, it’s the total opposite.”

But he concludes with a positive vision of the future: “It’s hard to be an optimist. My scientist brain says we’re doomed. But I have children. I may have grandchildren one day. If I say we’re doomed, what am I saying about their future? So, I force myself to be an optimist. There are those with vision and imagination and passion who are working on solutions. I do believe humans can get ourselves out of jams when we need to.”

The book is published by Douglas & McIntyre and is available at booksellers across Prince Edward Island.

Fenech has worked extensively in climate change since the Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in 1988. He has edited eight books on climate change. He has represented Canada at international climate negotiating sessions; written climate policy speeches for Canadian environment ministers; and authored Canadian reports on climate change to the United Nations. He has taught at the University of Toronto and the Smithsonian Institution for over 25 years, and lectures regularly at universities across Canada and around the world. He shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As director of the UPEI Climate Lab, he conducts research on the vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation to climate change. His virtual reality depiction of sea level rise has won international awards, including one from MIT for communicating coastal science. He maintains the largest fleet of drones at a Canadian university, including the largest drone in the country, which has a four-metre wingspan.

Bulgutch worked for CBC News for over 35 years, starting as a reporter and producer in Montreal and then lineup editor of the CBC National for 11 years. He produced news specials for CBC, including every federal and provincial election in Canada from 1995–2013. He is the recipient of 14 Gemini awards, four Radio Television News Directors Association awards, the Canadian Journalism Foundation Award of Excellence, and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award. His previous books include That’s Why I’m a Journalist and That’s Why I’m A Doctor (Douglas & McIntyre) and a national bestseller, Extraordinary Canadians (Simon & Schuster), co-authored with Peter Mansbridge. 

Worst-Case Scenarios of Climate Change are Playing Themselves Out Live Right Now

– Why the United Nations Report has Missed Its Mark

by Dr. Adam Fenech, Director, Climate Lab, University of Prince Edward Island

Last week saw the release of a major international climate change report authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of experts convened by the United Nations that has become the leading scientific authority on climate change. The report titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was written by 270 researchers from 67 countries over the past seven years, and is the most detailed look to-date at the threats posed by global warming. The results in its over 3,500 pages are striking: The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt, creating a harrowing future in which floods, fires and famine displace millions, species disappear and the planet is irreversibly damaged.

I wish those were the authors words. Instead, pages and pages of bureaucratic language are given that even the most interested of us find difficult to read and comprehend. The opening “headline” from a summary of the report is: Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability. Yawn! Has the time come for the IPCC to abandon its work if the results of seven years are as impotent as this summary of the report?

I am a climatologist who has been in the climate change business for almost thirty-four years. Why are we still receiving such ineffectual statements from the United Nations while Nature is screaming at us to take notice of how climate change is disrupting our lives? Here is what a quick scan of my memory from the past year tells us:

  1. Ontario forest fires burned a record area of land (more than 793,000 hectares of land – almost one-and-a-half times the size of Prince Edward island) this past summer, more than in any year in history.
  2. The June heat wave in British Columbia has been called the “deadliest weather event in Canadian history” where a record breaking heat dome brought temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of the province directly causing the deaths of 570 people. The town of Lytton was wiped off the map, destroyed by the intense heat from forest fires.
  3. The North American western drought is now the driest in at least 1,200 years and shows no signs of easing. Attribution science tells us that 42% of the drought conditions are directly from human-caused warming.
  4. In November, one of the most severe natural disasters to strike British Columbia in a generation forced 20,000 people to abandon their homes after a major storm caused flooding and mudslides.

All of these are worst-case climate change scenarios playing themselves out live right now, while the United Nations pulls out its thesaurus to come up with one more boring descriptor after another. I am frightened by what I am witnessing out in the real world, and maybe we all should consider that more closely. The IPCC report notes that nearly half of the world’s population is already vulnerable to increasingly dangerous climate impacts. Climate change is changing the baseline conditions toward a hotter, drier state meaning that conditions will only get worse. “There is a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future on the planet,” says Hans-Otto Portner, co-chair of the IPCC working group that generated the report. “We need to live up to that challenge.”

PEI’s Top 3 Weather Stories of 2021

By Dr. Adam Fenech and Dr. Xander Wang

It was a good news story on Prince Edward Island when it came to the weather over the past year. Here are our Top 3 PEI Weather Stories for 2021.

Number 3 – Record Heat in June

There were maximum temperature records set for June 8 in Charlottetown (30.6 degrees Celsius (°C) breaking the previous record of 27.8°C in 1922), Summerside (32.7°C breaking the previous record of 27.2°C in 1973) and St. Peters Bay (29.9°C breaking the previous record of 28.3°C set in 2017). These are the highest recorded maximum temperatures on this day in recorded history going back almost 150 years. What is striking is that these records are not simply breaking the old ones by minor amounts but often by 1, 2 or even 5 degrees warmer!

Number 2 – Little to No Sea Ice

There was very little ice formation around Prince Edward Island in 2021 what with higher normal average winter temperatures and fewer than normal major storms. There has been a trend toward less ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the last 30 years, but it was particularly striking in 2021. Even the first ever Ice Walk, a silent vigil across the bridge linking the Lennox Island community to the northwest shore of Prince Edward Island to remember the dangerous journey across the ice the Mi’kmaq had to take until the bridge was built in 1973, took place on the causeway because the ice wasn’t formed and solid enough.

Number 1 – A Bountiful Harvest Season

After two previous bad harvest years, what with the hot and dry summer of 2020, and post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019, the weather of 2021 provided much better growing conditions for Prince Edward Island crops.

“A huge crop of corn” is how Matt Barrett of Oceanbrae Farms in Belmont, Lot 16, described it. At Colin MacNevin’s family farm in DeSable, the corn was described as one of the strongest crops in years: “one of the best crops I’ve ever grown.”

Robert Godfrey, former executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture called the favourable weather in the spring and early summer led to “the best hay crop farmers have seen in the last four or five years, both in terms of quality, in terms of yield.”

Strawberry farmers had ideal growing conditions of a warm spring with little frost and timely rain that brought on an early harvest referred to as “the best crop of berries we’ve seen in years.”

And after a couple of difficult seasons, the 2021 PEI potato crop was called “one of the best in decades.” Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, said: “This year’s potato crop in Prince Edward Island is one of the best that growers have grown for many generations. A beautiful crop this year.” Now if we can only get them to market!

I have often said that there will be winners and losers under climate change. In the short term, Prince Edward Island stands to benefit from the warmer and drier conditions that climate change brings. And this past year of 2021 revealed just how these type of climate conditions might influence Prince Edward Island’s ecology and economy. It is a future of record high temperatures, less ice formation, and bountiful agricultural crops.

Calling for Input – Siting PEI Climate Stations

The UPEI Climate Lab welcomes suggestions for siting climate stations across PEI. A presentation is attached to view the climate station network objectives and criteria. Applications for having a climate station installed at a location of interest can be found attached as well.

Cheers, Adam