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Climate change and golf

By the Canadian Press and AP

OTTAWA -- Great if you're a golfer or a cod, not so much if you're a skier or a salmon.

A federal advisory panel has released a study showing how climate change could reshape the country's landscape. 

The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society show on a sliding scale how warming temperatures might affect different parts of the country. A two-degree rise in temperatures could melt half the summer Arctic sea ice, displace Atlantic salmon from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Grand Banks, and subject more people to Lyme disease.

But not all of the groups' 60 projections are necessarily bad. They expect a prolonged golf season in some parts of southeastern Canada, more Atlantic cod stocks north of the 60th parallel and more access to northern oil, gas and minerals.

The roundtable and the society released their findings ahead of a speech on climate change by new Gov. Gen. David Johnston. Johnston's first public address since being installed as governor general recently. "This is an issue that will define our times and in a very real sense determine our future," he said. "Climate change is no longer a matter for academic debate alone. It's a matter of public discussion and public policy."


WeatherBill Inc. also published a study analyzing historical weather data to determine changes and trends in annual Golf Playable Days. The study concludes that U.S. golf playable days are increasing in 95 cities, primarily due to higher average temperatures. The study identified increasingly rainy trends in the Northeast and Southeast, a drier Southwest and West, and increasingly uncertain weather in 33 cities. The free study can be downloaded at

"The average number of Golf Playable Days across the U.S. is 268 a year," said David Friedberg, CEO of WeatherBill. "In the West and South, given the extended season, the average golf course can expect 297 playable days a year vs. the 226 days in the Northeast and Midwest." The study includes a reference table showing the range of GPD in 195 cities as well as the 30-year trend in both GPD and weather certainty. The guide serves as a useful financial planning tool for golf course owners and managers.

"Warming temperature trends during January, February, and March were the most impressive weather change we observed," Friedberg said. "Half the cities in our study showed significant increases in temperature, particularly in the Southeast and Southwest.

Rainfall changes were more widespread across the year and across cities, with about 1/3 of the nation showing a change in rainfall trend in any given quarter. Raleigh, NC; Miami, Fla.; and Portland, Ore., showed a very challenging combination of more rain and more variability, which makes revenue planning for the weather sensitive golf business more difficult."

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