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Earth Action Week: RinkWatch

Staff writers
March 22, 2013 — Could outdoor ice rinks be a victim of global warming? RinkWatch is a new initiative that compares backyard skating with environmental science.

Outdoor rinks could become a sort of endangered species in North American
Outdoor rinks could become a sort of endangered species in North American

Tom Nicol has been a community rink volunteer for ten years now.

"I would say the past two years have been rough. Last year we weren't able to put an ice rink together. We came out twice, we had two real good cold nights, but it just didn't stay cold enough," says Nicol. 

And while weather conditions have been a bit more conducive this year, Nicol says they still lost the local rink he was working on two separate times.

That kind of information is being reported at, a website dedicated to observing backyard and community rinks. 

Recently developed by geographers from Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, RinkWatch has already drawn close to a thousand members from across North America.

"We think that backyard rinks and neighbourhood rinks are a great way to track trends in winter weather conditions across North America, and it's also a great way to get people actively involved in citizen science," says Robert McLeman, Associate Professor of Geography & Environmental Studies at Laurier University. "When we talk about things like climate change we talk about polar bears and glaciers and things that people don't really see on a day to day basis, but they do see outdoor skating rinks on a regular basis so this is a way for them to see the changes that are going on in the environment around them and start interacting with scientists on keeping track of those changes."

According to McLeman, outdoor rinks could become a sort of endangered species in North American and because of that, it's important to monitor the conditions.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for Earth action-related discussions, and let us know your thoughts using #TWNEarthWeek.

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