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Hockey Season Washed Out Due to Mild Winter

It's melting, melting, melting...

The sky isn’t falling, but the ice on the ground is melting. That’s the findings of a new study by scientists at McGill and Concordia universities and it is essentially ruining this year’s outdoor hockey season. As CNN.com noted this week in a story titled, “Study claims possible end to Canada’s outdoor pastime,” several headlines from around Canada predicted an ominous future including: “Thin Ice: Canada’s outdoor rinks face meltdown,” “Global warming could spell the end of Canada’s outdoor hockey rink” and even “Climate change melting backyard hockey rinks.”

The actual study titled, “Observed decreases in the Canadian outdoor skating season due to recent winter warming,” offered this thought:

Global warming has the potential to negatively affect one of Canada’s primary sources of winter recreation: hockey and ice skating on outdoor rinks. Observed changes in winter temperatures in Canada suggest changes in the meteorological conditions required to support the creation and maintenance of outdoor skating rinks; while there have been observed increases in the ice-free period of several natural water bodies, there has been no study of potential trends in the duration of the season supporting the construction of outdoor skating rinks.

But here is the truly interesting part of this study. Given those previous listed headlines, and the fact that the CNN.com story appeared this week it could sound like the study was based on this winter. In fact, while it was accepted for publication in February, it was actually received in November, before this mild winter even arrived – or didn’t actually arrive depending on your view.

So what is the conclusion? According to the report:

The ability to skate and play hockey outdoors is a critical component of Canadian identity and culture. Wayne Gretzky learned to skate on a backyard skating rink; our results imply that such opportunities may not available to future generations of Canadian children.

Perhaps that is why there are indoor skating rinks.

[Via Environmental Research Letters: Observed decreases in the Canadian outdoor skating season due to recent winter warming]

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