P. 1
Key Climate Change Impacts - 2012 02 17

Key Climate Change Impacts - 2012 02 17

|Views: 18,640|Likes:
Published by mikedesouza
Environment Canada offers Peter Kent some tips on how to make himself useful by highlighting the reality of global warming impacts on Canadians. (full colour version)
Environment Canada offers Peter Kent some tips on how to make himself useful by highlighting the reality of global warming impacts on Canadians. (full colour version)

More info:

Published by: mikedesouza on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Reference Deck

February 2012
Key Climate Change Impacts
in Canada
Page 2 ÷ 28 September 2012


· To review past Canadian and international research on climate
change impacts

· To provide a summary of observed trends in temperature and
precipitation across Canada, as well as examples of some
impacts of these changes that are already observed

· To highlight near-term climate change projections
Page 3 ÷ 28 September 2012

· The impacts of climate change are already evident across Canada
· Temperatures have increased and precipitation patterns have changed,
leading to a wide range of impacts, including:
÷ Reduced Arctic ice cover
÷ Changes in timing and amount of surface water available
÷ Increased evaporation leading to lower levels in the Great Lakes
÷ Increased depth and extent of permafrost thaw
÷ Shorter season and decreased quality of Northern ice roads
÷ Increased loss of forests due to pests and wildfires
÷ More frequent droughts and flooding
· In addition to gradual shifts in temperature and precipitation, changes in
extreme weather events, sea level, storm surges, and sea ice have
been observed and are projected to continue
· Knowledge of current and projected impacts of, and vulnerability to, a
changing climate is essential for future planning and decision making

Page 4 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Canada Country Study: Climate Impacts and Adaptation (1998)
÷ Regional reports, sectoral studies and cross cutting issues related to climate impacts
and adaptation in Canada
÷ Led by Environment Canada
· Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective (2004)
÷ Overview of research in the field of climate change impacts and adaptation
÷ Led by Natural Resources Canada
· From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate (2008)
÷ Presents conclusions regarding current and future impacts of, and vulnerabilities to,
climate change in Canada
÷ Led by Natural Resources Canada
· Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities
and Adaptive Capacity (2008)
÷ The first comprehensive assessment of health vulnerabilities to climate change in
÷ Led by Health Canada
· NRTEE Climate Prosperity Series (2010, 2011)
÷ Policy analysis and advice to governments on both the economic risks and
opportunities for Canada associated with a warming planet
Over the last 20 years, a number of research
initiatives have investigated the impacts of climate
change, both in Canada...
Page 5 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2005)
÷ Describes ongoing climate change in the Arctic and its consequences
÷ Guided by the intergovernmental Arctic Council and the non-governmental International
Arctic Science Committee

· Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports (1990, 1995,
2001, 2007)
÷ Established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World
Meteorological Organization
÷ Each report presented the current state of knowledge in climate change and its
potential impacts
÷ Environment Canada provides ongoing contributions of science-based quantitative
climate research

... and internationally
Page 6 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Between 1948 and 2010, temperatures in Canada increased faster than the
global average
÷ The average temperature of the Earth's surface increased by 0.7C
÷ The average temperature in Canada rose 1.6C
÷ The average temperature in Canada's North rose 2.1C
· 2010 was a temperature record-breaking year in Canada
÷ Warmest year on record, with temperatures about 3C warmer than normal
÷ 14th consecutive year with above-normal temperatures
· There are, on average, 20 more days of rain per year today compared with
the 1950s
· Average precipitation has increased by about 12 percent across the country,
with strong regional variability
÷ Annual and seasonal rainfall has increased in most of Canada, especially in the
÷ Snowfall has increased in the North and decreased in southwestern Canada

The Canadian climate is changing, with warming
temperatures and changing precipitation patterns
1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015
South of 60°N
North of 60°N
Trend for N. of 60: +2.1°C
Trend for S. of 60: +1.2°C
Trend for Canada: +1.6°C
Global trend: 0.7°C
Mean Temperature Departures and Long-Term Trends
1948 ± 2010
Page 8 ÷ 28 September 2012

· There is significant regional variability in observed climate
changes across Canada
÷ The greatest temperature increases were in the Yukon and
Northwest Territories
÷ Precipitation has increased most in the high Arctic, while parts of
the Prairies have seen a decrease
÷ Southern BC and southeastern Canada have seen significant
increases in spring and autumn precipitation
÷ Most of southern Canada has experienced a significant decline in
winter precipitation

Indicators of climate change vary significantly
among regions of Canada
Page 9 ÷ 28 September 2012

Arctic ice is disappearing rapidly
· The Arctic ice retreat of 2011 was the second biggest on record
after 2007
· In the Canadian Arctic, sea ice coverage reached a record low in
September 2011 with less than half of the September average
÷ This record low surpassed the previous record by 20 percent
÷ September 2011 also set new record low levels of sea ice in both
the Northern and Southern routes of the Northwest Passage
· Northern Arctic ice shelves have undergone significant changes
in the last 100 years
÷ At the beginning of the 20th century, one large ice shelf spanned
the entire northwest coast of Ellesmere Island
÷ By the beginning of the 21st century, this large ice shelf had been
eroded into 6 smaller remnant ice shelves
÷ As of the end of summer 2011, only 3 ice shelves remain

Sea Ice Cover 1979 Sea Ice Cover 2003
Page 11 ÷ 28 September 2012

· The longer summer shipping season in the North can increase access to
northern communities and provide benefits for port cities and towns
÷ Increased marine traffic in Hudson Bay could encourage significant use of
the port of Churchill
· Reduced ice cover in the Beaufort Sea will increase the appeal of
offshore resource development, and will raise the potential to ship oil
and gas westward through the Bering Strait
· Tourism is already increasing in the North, and longer travel seasons
and new transportation options will contribute to further growth
÷ There has been a doubling of cruise ship voyages in the Arctic over the last
5 years
· The linking of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is altering animal ranges
and opening new pathways for disease
÷ Bowhead whales from the separate Pacific and Atlantic populations have
crossed paths in the Canadian Arctic (spring 2010)
÷ Transmission of a seal-killing virus from the Atlantic Ocean to a population
of Pacific sea otters in Alaska (2009)
Reduced ice cover in Arctic waters is increasing
access to the North and is connecting the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans
Page 13 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Reduced snow accumulation and glacier retreat have led to
declining streamflows, and increased spring precipitation coupled
with an earlier snow melt have led to earlier peak flow periods

· Declining streamflows are already an issue for many rivers in the
southern Prairies
÷ Streamflow in the South Saskatchewan River has been decreasing
over the last 100 years, with the lowest recorded flow on record
occurring in 2001
÷ In 2006, the Alberta government stopped accepting new
applications for water allocations in the Oldman, Bow and South
Saskatchewan River sub-basins

Temperature increases and precipitation changes
impact water availability
Page 15 ÷ 28 September 2012

Higher surface and water temperatures cause
increased evaporation in the Great Lakes,
contributing to lower water levels
· Average surface temperatures in the Great Lakes have
increased over the past decades
÷ Between 1968 and 2002, Lake Huron warmed 2.9C, Lake Ontario
increased by 1.6C, and Lake Erie by 0.9C
÷ Lake Superior has warmed by 2.5C since 1980
· The season of ice cover has been shortened by about one to two
months during the last 100 to 150 years
÷ Extended shipping season will likely not compensate for losses in
cargo capacity due to lower lake levels
· Higher temperature and shorter ice cover season increases
evaporation which lowers water levels
÷ Record low levels in 2001 caused an $11.25 million decrease in
shipping business volume
÷ Every further 2.5 cm decline in water levels forces ships to reduce
their load by as much as 180 tonnes
Lake Huron
Georgian Bay
Page 17 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Temperatures in the permafrost have risen by up to 2C over the last
20-30 years
· A general increase in the depth to which the ground thaws in summer
was observed through the 1990s
· The southern limit of the permafrost retreated northward by 130 km
during the past 50 years in Northern Quebec
· Warming permafrost and increased thaw depth have a number of
negative consequences for the North:
÷ Shorter winter road season
÷ Ground settlement under infrastructure projects
÷ Drainage changes, leading to expansion or draining of wetlands and lakes
÷ Risks to existing waste containment
÷ Increased erosion rates
· Permafrost thaw has already impacted EC operations in Eureka, NU
÷ Permafrost containment in both the freshwater and sewage lagoons is failing
÷ Slumping is impacting buildings, roadways
÷ The runway is now too soft to support large aircraft in the summer months
Permafrost thawing has a wide range of impacts in
the North
Herschel Island, Yukon
Page 19 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Ice roads are used to provide essential goods to remote northern
÷ Since 1940, the ice roads in northern Manitoba have been open for
an average of 50 days per year
· Shorter seasons and poor winter road conditions cause
shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies, as well as increase
the need to fly in supplies
· The cost of shipping goods by air is two to three times higher
than shipping by ground transportation on winter roads
÷ In 1997-98, the Manitoba ice roads could not be opened and 10
million litres of fuel and 1 million kg of food had to be airlifted to
communities at a cost of $50 million
÷ In 2010, ice roads were open for less than a month, costing the
province of Manitoba $9 million
Remote and northern communities rely on extensive
winter road networks that are at risk due to
increased temperatures
Page 21 ÷ 28 September 2012

· While no single event can be attributed to climate change,
increasing temperatures are expected to cause increased aridity
and more frequent drought
· Impacts of the extreme drought of 2001-2003 were far-reaching,
though hardest hit were agricultural producers in Alberta and
÷ Alberta's crop production loss was about $413 million in 2001 and
$1.33 billion in 2002 while Saskatchewan was $925 million in 2001
and $1.49 billion in 2002
÷ More than 41,000 jobs were lost, and GDP was reduced by $5.8

Increased temperatures can exacerbate drought
Extent of Dryness in Canadian Prairies
September 2002
July 2001 July 2002
Page 23 ÷ 28 September 2012

· The mountain pine beetle is native to North America and normally plays
an important role in the life of a forest; however, a number of factors
have contributed to the current epidemic
÷ Unusually hot, dry summers have caused drought-stress in the trees and
made them less able to defend against beetles
÷ Mild winters have increased overwinter survival rates and contributed to
long-distance dispersal of adult beetles
· The cumulative area of B.C. affected by the mountain pine beetle is
estimated at 17.5 million hectares
÷ The mountain pine beetle has now killed a cumulative total of 726 million
cubic metres of timber since the current infestation began
÷ This epidemic is estimated to directly result in the closure of 16 lumber mills
and up to 8000 jobs by 2018
÷ To respond to the epidemic, the federal and B.C. governments have already
spent approximately $1 billion; Alberta has further allocated $210 million
· If warming trends continue, the threat of eastern expansion will increase
÷ In Alberta, large areas of mature pine forest along the eastern slopes of the
Rockies are highly vulnerable to beetle attack
Drought-stressed forests are more susceptible to
Cumulative Percentage of Pine Killed by the
Mountain Pine Beetle in British Columbia
Page 25 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Forests stressed by warmer, drier conditions and forest pests
can present highly flammable conditions and lead to an increase
in area affected by wildfires
· The average area burned by fire has increased
÷ In 10 years, the average area burned per fire in British Columbia
has more than tripled, from 125 hectares in the 1990s to over
400 hectares in the early 2000s
÷ The 2004 summer in Yukon was the warmest on record and the
area burned was more than twice the previous record
· The previous decade has seen the three most expensive ÷ in
terms of direct firefighting costs ÷ fire seasons in British
Columbia's history
÷ The average cost of fighting wildfires in BC is $115 million
÷ In 2003, 2009 and 2010, the province spent $375 million,
$400 million and $230 million respectively
Drought and pest-stressed forests lead to an
increased area affected by wildfires
1999 2010
Summary of Number and Magnitude of
Wildfires in British Columbia
Page 27 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Global sea levels are rising
÷ Global sea levels have risen 17 centimetres
÷ In Atlantic Canada, sea level has risen approximately
30 centimetres

· Sea level rise, the reduction of sea-ice cover, a shorter sea-ice
period and a reduction in permafrost expose soft shores to the
effects of waves and storms and significantly impact coastal
÷ The Sept-Îles shoreline is experiencing land losses of up to
8 metres per year
÷ Coastal erosion rates in excess of 5 metres per year have been
measured at Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia
÷ Between 1974 and 2004, the coast at Cascumpec Bay, Prince
Edward Island retreated 115 metres

Changes in global sea levels have been observed
over the last century
Page 29 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Sea level rise and changes in precipitation patterns can increase the
risks associated with storms
÷ Sea level rise increases the frequency of higher storm surges
÷ Rising sea level causes flooding in higher, previously immune areas
and more frequent flooding in low-lying areas
· Recent events in Atlantic Canada highlight the vulnerabilities of
coastal infrastructure
÷ In 2003, Hurricane Juan caused more than $200 million in property,
infrastructure and environmental damage
÷ In 2010, Hurricane Igor resulted in $65 million in insurable claims (the
largest weather-related insurance claim in Newfoundland and Labrador
in recent history), and non-insured costs of >$120 million
÷ In 2010, Hurricane Tomas caused insurance-covered property
damages of $100 million; infrastructure damages were estimated at
$200 million
· An increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events
has prompted several Ontario municipalities to retrofit storm-water
infrastructure to accommodate heavier rainfall events
÷ The north Toronto flood in August 2005 caused extensive flooding and
infrastructure damage and over $500 million in insured losses
Extreme weather events highlight the vulnerability
of communities and infrastructure
Flooding due to storm
surges in New Brunswick
and Prince Edward Island,
December 2010
Page 31 ÷ 28 September 2012

· Global sea surface temperatures have risen approximately 1C
in the last century

· Warmer temperatures impact the availability of oxygen in water

· In the Saanich Inlet on the coast of BC, the depth of water
depleted in oxygen is 25 metres higher than 50 years ago
÷ Results in reductions of habitat for marine organisms

· High levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide lead to a more acidic
ocean surface, threatening marine life
÷ In Canada, plankton, pteropods, molluscs and cold-water corals are
at risk

The temperature and chemistry of oceans is
Page 32 ÷ 28 September 2012

· The current pattern of warmer, drier summers and warmer winters
across the country is projected to continue
· Changes in temperature and precipitation extremes are projected
÷ In southern Ontario, the number of days exceeding 30C is expected to
more than double by 2050 (from 15 to 30 days in Windsor, from 8 to 16
days in Toronto and Ottawa)
÷ Extreme daily precipitation amounts will likely become more intense and
more frequent
· Arctic sea ice duration is expected to be 10 days shorter by 2020
· Reductions in river flows are predicted for the summer, the season of
greatest demand for surface water
· An overall 10-14% increase in Northern Quebec river flows is projected
÷ In anticipation, Hydro Quebec is making significant capital decisions
· For the Great Lakes, climate change is expected to lead to increased
evaporation in all seasons, especially in winter due to less ice coverage
÷ It is expected that low levels will occur more frequently and seasonal
variation will increase

Projections of climate change in the near-term
Page 33 ÷ 28 September 2012

· In northern permafrost regions, the depth to which the ground thaws in
summer is projected to increase up to 50 percent in the next 50 years
· The average length of the winter road season in northern Manitoba is
expected to decrease from the current 50 days to 35 days by the 2050s
· The average area burned by wildfires is projected to increase by a factor
of 3.5 to 5 before the end of this century
· Increased aridity and more frequent droughts are predicted for the
· Global sea levels could rise 0.5-1 metre by the end of the century
÷ As sea levels rise, the frequency of higher storm surges will increase

· There is uncertainty with respect to the rate and magnitude at which
impacts will play out
÷ For impacts already occurring, there is a high likelihood that these trends
will continue as the planet warms
÷ Some changes have happened much faster than predicted (i.e. Arctic ice)

Projections of climate change in the near-term,

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->