Friday, January 14, 2005

I like warm weather

The other week I managed to make it back to the Park. Coming from Lethbridge, I was surprised at how much warmer it was in the town site. While part of this is no doubt due to the moderating effect of water on local climate, I have heard that the Waterton area gets a subtle shift in micro-climate, presumably due to warm moist air coming over from Oregon. From what I have heard, Waterton sits at the intersection of a number of different general weather patterns. For instance, the area south of the Crowsnest Pass usually gets slightly different weather than that north of the Pass. Also, if you get much south of Browning, the patterns change again. Most people also recognize that heading over to Fernie can also result in quite different weather. While this isn't noticeable in big fronts, the subtle differences, presumably add up.

So, what good is this you ask? Well this has meant that during the last minor ice age, Waterton and Cypress hill managed to escape total devastation. In Waterton, this has meant a rather strong base of genetic diversity. In particular, I remember talking to some researchers who indicated that the gizzilies in Waterton had much more genetic diversity in their population than compared to Banff and other areas. In fact, many of the bears in the north descending through Waterton bears.

So all this cold weather really just has me thinking, if Waterton partially hid out from the last ice age, perhaps it isn’t such a bad place to be if the big freeze is going to stay. While the climate in Alberta may change, I am just glad I am not living at the coldest spot on earth. Of course, the temperature at there right now is only –29C, so I am not sure how much better it is in Lethbridge right now. Well actually I am. It is 1C colder in Alberta! Maybe I just need to find a nice den in which to curl up for during the winter.


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