BRITISH COLUMBIA’S NEW CLIMATE REALITY: “If this kind of (extreme hot dry) weather persists, we are going to be in challenging situations as we get into the later part of the summer,” stated David Campbell, Hydrologist & Section Head, BC River Forecast Centre (June 2019)

Note to Reader:

British Columbia’s climate is changing; and change is occurring at a rate much faster than anticipated. Looking back, 2015 marks the beginning of a ‘new normal’ which is defined by recurring extremes. Floods, drought, forest fires and windstorms – all are happening within the same year, and year after year.

In 2019, British Columbians are now in Year 5 of this new reality: warmer, wetter winters; longer, drier summers. Droughts, dwindling snow packs, melting glaciers, beleaguered salmon runs and costly forest fire seasons are followed by windstorms and heavy rains. 

The Loss of Hydrologic Stationarity 

“Land-use and cover change are only the beginning of the effects human activities are having on the global hydrologic cycle. Our entire Earthly reality is defined by all the ways in which water reacts with nearly every element in the physical world,” explains Bob Sandford.

Bob Sandford holds the EPCOR Chair in Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. In this capacity Bob was the co-author of the UN Water in the World We Want report on post-2015 global sustainable development goals relating to water.

“Change a few parameters that pertain to water and the world you see out your window becomes different. Some parameters, however, have more influence than others over the nature and function of any given hydro-climatic circumstance.

“The changing of a single defining parameter – temperature for example – changes all of the other biogeochemical parameters. If our global temperature changes, an entire new geometry is created around that change. What this causes is the loss of what we call hydrologic stationarity.”

To Learn More:

Read OUR CHANGING CLIMATE: British Columbia is in Year 5 of its ‘new reality’

Then, learn more about what is in store for British Columbia in the coming months: ‘Abnormally dry’ conditions across Pacific Northwest could spell long wildfire season for British Columbia

Finally, reflect on what Bob Sandford has to say: LEARNING FROM THE BURNING: “We keep talking about adaptation in service of resilience; but more than that we need to adapt now for what is to come,” stated Bob Sandford, Canada’s Winston Churchill of Water

Fire weather severity in southwestern B.C. will be well above average in June, based on monthly forecast generated by Canadian Seasonal to Inter-annual Prediction System (CanSIPS)

B.C. drought fears surge as rivers dry up across the province

Extreme hot dry weather has left streams and rivers across the province running low and that’s creating drought conditions more commonly seen in late July, reported CBC in an article posted on June 13, 2019.

On June 12, temperature records for many places in B.C. were broken — with highs not seen in some spots in a century. CBC reported that provincial drought monitors say this kind of weather is leaving many waterways at record-low flows, fuelling fears over everything from fire risks to salmon survival.

According to David Campbell, who heads the River Forecast Centre for the province, seeing drought ratings this high in June raises obvious concerns for July and August.

“If this kind of weather persists, we are going to be in challenging situations as we get into the later part of the summer,” said Campbell who urges people to start conserving now, especially in places that rely on local streams or rivers.

Winter Drought followed by Summer Drought

“That water is going to be gone later in the summer,” David Campbell continued.  “This year’s snowpack levels are less than half of what they’d usually be. In addition, between 55% and 100% of the snowpack that feeds many of the provincial waterways has already melted.”

In an average year, Campbell says the drought map of B.C. would be the colour green, the code for normal. But most of the province is a bright yellow, the code for dry.

JUNE 2019: The map of drought levels in B.C. already shows 3 zones as very dry (orange): East Vancouver Island, West Vancouver Island and Fort Nelson. Most of the rest of the province is colour-coded yellow, the rating for dry. (Province of BC)

To Learn More:

To read the complete CBC story, download a copy of B.C. drought fears surge as rivers dry up across the province

Meet David Campbell

David Campbell works for the B.C. River Forecast Centre as a professional Hydrologist and Geoscientist.

In the first YouTube video clip below, David speaks to the role of the River Forecast Centre and their work with Emergency Management BC.

The second video describes how British Columbia is preparing for the 2019 wildfire season,