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Climate Change Adaptation

THE WATER CYCLE IS OUT OF BALANCE: “While climate change is causing bigger and bigger storms, our alterations to the environment – especially to the ground surface – have been one of the major causes of the increased frequency of flooding events in modern times,” stated Professor Roland Ennos, University of Hull, when commenting on flood consequences in the United Kingdom (2015)


“In the last few years I have also worked on the environmental benefits of trees in urban areas, and their role in climate-proofing our cities. We have been investigating how the cooling, shading and flood-prevention benefits they provide are affected by the species of tree and the growing conditions. All this will help us appreciate the importance of man’s long relationship with trees and with the wood they produce,” stated Roland Ennos. “To determine whether the humble tree really can provide such robust defences, we first need to understand the role they play in soaking up excess rain water,”

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CLIMATE ADAPTATION THROUGH GOOD PLANNING: “Singapore is at the forefront of nearly all countries that have formulated a long-term plan for managing climate change and is steadfastly implementing that plan,” stated Peter Joo Hee Ng, Chief Executive Officer at PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency (November 2021)


“Singapore is one of most densely populated countries in the world. It faces the twin challenges of ensuring sustainable water supply during droughts as well as effective drainage during intense rain seasons amid climate change. For over two decades, Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, has successfully added large-scale nationwide rainwater harvesting, used water collection, treatment and reuse, and seawater desalination to its portfolio of conventional water sources, so the nation-state can achieve long-term water sustainability,” stated Peter Joo Hee Ng.

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THE ERA OF WEATHER EXTREMES IS UPON US: “Basically, all of your biggest storms in terms of big damage, like we just saw, in the West Coast [U.S.] states, including British Columbia, are from atmospheric river storms,” said Marty Ralph, a researcher and director at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography (November 2021)


According to Marty Ralph, despite being relatively small compared to the rest of the atmosphere, these rivers in the sky can carry up to 95 per cent of the water vapour that travels around the Earth’s surface, and can bring anywhere between 30 and 50 per cent of a given region’s yearly water supply.The warmer the air is, the more water vapour it can carry. As the atmosphere’s average temperature rises, then, an atmospheric river can grow — and when it makes landfall, it can release more rain or snow than in years past.

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RESTORE THE BALANCE IN THE WATER BALANCE: “The approach to urban design – where water is held in place to be called-upon when needed – is known as the ‘sponge city’, and it is rapidly growing in popularity,” wrote Laurie Winkless, author of ‘Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis’, in an article for Forbes Magazine (July 2021)


A sponge city is a new urban construction model for flood management, strengthening ecological infrastructure and drainage systems, proposed by Chinese researchers in 2014. “Extreme weather, a changing climate, and impervious streets and roads have combined to create an urban disaster. All of this has seen cities begin to re-imagine their relationship with water. Rather than just designing systems that allow the water to drain away slowly and stably, they want to harvest and reuse it,” stated Laurie Winkless.

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WATCH THE VIDEO / Water and a Changing Climate / Drought Affects Us All: “When you think about it, the earth is a closed-loop system. New water is not being created. What changes is the seasonal distribution. Extreme droughts followed by extreme floods show just how unbalanced the seasonal water cycle is now,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability (July 2021)


“A long career provides perspective. In my five decades as water resource planner and engineer, there are three years that really stand out in British Columbia when the topic is water conservation. After what in respect was a benign half-century, 1987 was BC’s first wake up call. The drought was unprecedented in living memory. But it was 2003 that truly was what we call ‘the teachable year.’ This really got the attention of British Columbians that the climate was indeed changing. In 2015, the West Coast of North America crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. And it has happened faster than anyone expected,” stated Kim Stephens.

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DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY AND MANAGING RISK: “A key feature of climate change is that it doesn’t pose one single risk. Rather, it presents multiple, interacting risks that can compound and cascade. Importantly, responses to climate change can also affect risk,” wrote University of Capetown researchers Nicholas Simpson and Christopher Trisos in an article published by The Conversation (August 2021)


“In our highly connected world, climate risks and our responses to them can be transmitted from one system or sector to another, creating new risks and making existing ones more or less severe. In many cases risks cannot be understood without considering these interactions. Recent evidence indicates how some of the most severe climate change impacts, such as those from deadly heat or sudden ecosystem collapse, are strongly influenced by interactions across sectors and regions,” stated Nicholas Simpson.

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A CHANGING CLIMATE AFFECTS ALL OF US: “Over the past eight years, climate scientists have improved the methods they use to measure different aspects of climate and to project what might happen in the future. They’ve also been monitoring the changes that have developed right before our eyes,” stated Dr. Alex Crawford, a climatologist at the University of Manitoba (August 2021)


On August 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its most comprehensive report on the science of climate change since 2013. “The report will provide policy-makers with the best possible information regarding the physical science of climate change, which is essential for long-term planning in many sectors, from infrastructure to energy to social welfare,” stated Alex Crawford. In his article, he identifies five things to look for in the new report.

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MOTHER NATURE IS TICKED OFF: “Fires. Floods. Mudslides. Rivers and reservoirs drying up. Record heat. Rising shorelines. Glacial melting. The Earth is in peril,” stated Michele Norris, Washington Post columnist (July 2021)


“Mother Nature has had it with her brood. If you can’t see that, you haven’t been paying attention. The defining struggle of our time, and our future, will be the tension between Mother Nature and human nature. So, more of us need to think differently about who and what we are dealing with here. That seems to have finally begun. In a season of catastrophic, deadly and too-common extreme weather events, there are signs that even people who were hesitant to embrace the science behind climate change are waking up to the threat,” stated Michele Norris.

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DROUGHTS AFFECT ALL OF US: Climate change has aggravated an existing vulnerability related to seasonal supply of water in BC. Over time, the safety factor has been shrinking (July 2021)


As Metro Vancouver headed into Day 43 of drought, officials asked residents to keep the six-week-long lack of precipitation in mind when they think about watering their lawn or washing their car. “We’re keeping a close eye on things. We need people to be really mindful about how they are using the water that is available. We’re certainly not in a position where we’ve got surplus water and people can do whatever they want,” stated Marilyn Towill, Metro Vancouver General Manager of Water Services.

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‘HISTORIC, DANGEROUS, PROLONGED AND UNPRECEDENTED’ HEAT WAVE SWELLS OVER PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Perhaps the most intense heatwave for our region since the late 19th century – or at least close to it – is beginning to take shape,” reported the United States National Weather Service in the early morning on Saturday, June 26, 2021


As of 2015, we clearly crossed an invisible threshold into a different hydrometeorological regime in Western North America. Changes in the global hydrologic cycle have huge implications for every region of the world. “It’s unprecedented,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, when he described the “dome of heat” that descended on British Columbia in June 2021. “It’s never happened this early in the season. Temperatures are breaking all-time highs in south coast locations in June.”

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