After Canada’s North, the southern Prairies are the region most affected by the shifting climate. Since the 1940s and early 1950s, the length of the growing season on the Prairies has grown by approximately 10 to 15 days. There is less snow cover and spring runoff begins earlier. Most climate change models suggest that the semi-arid zones of the Prairies will be more prone to drought as the weather warms. Grasslands and aspen parkland of the southern Prairies could expand northward, in tracts now occupied by the boreal forest.
Glaciers along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, which feed rivers throughout the Prairies, have shrunk by an average of 25 percent over the last century, reducing downstream flows. Total glacial cover is nearing the lowest level in 10,000 years. If glaciers continue to shrink, it will exacerbate water shortages and drought, particularly in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The animation is a map of the prairie provinces; keyed colours indicate different climatic zones (subarctic, foothills forest, Boreal forest, aspen parkland and grassland). The animation has two images: "Present climate," with coloured areas indicating the climatic zones today, and "Future climate?"