“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,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. “Last week, a new scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada said Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and it’s ‘effectively irreversible’.”
Understanding Water Resources
AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post
Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.
“In October, 2018, faculty engaged in water research from a broad range of disciplines across the UBC Okanagan campus welcomed Michael Blackstock to share his theory of Blue Ecology and interweaving Indigenous and western science,” reports Marni Turek
“It is interesting to hear the journey from which Michael’s ideas on water leadership evolved, starting with asking what he refers to as a deceptively simple question, “What is water?”. Seeking out opportunities to enrich thinking and learning around water values is important and the Water Research Network is very appreciative for Michael sharing his truly inspirational views and message of hope for a new attitude… one that embraces a water-first approach,” stated Marni Turek.
“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science
“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.
LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote John Cleveland, in a book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)
“A number of cities have launched efforts to protect and restore the ecosystems and biodiversity of their urban regions. They want to ensure and enhance the delivery of essential services provided by nature outside, as well as inside, their boundaries,” wrote John Cleveland. “The growing urban attention to ecosystems extends to maintaining and increasing an urban region’s biodiversity, which is key to maintaining ecosystem health. Cities generally use a combination of regulation and investments to manage ecosystems.”
EARTH FACES WIDESPREAD DROUGHT: “While, as expected, rainfall is increasing with global warming — drier soil means water is being absorbed and made useless, rather than replenishing the earth’s vital river systems,” says Professor Ashish Sharma of the University of New South Wales
A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. “While the more extreme, life threatening floods and storms are increasing, the more moderate floods which fill dams and reservoirs, and are the basis for our water supply, are reducing with the rise in global temperatures,” stated Ashish Sharma.
THE STORY OF 2018 WAS CLIMATE CHANGE: “To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: Do you have a better idea?” – David Leonhardt, New York Times
“A global heat wave. Extreme rainstorms. Severe droughts. Rapidly intensifying Gulf Coast storms. The deadliest wildfire in California history. And a presidential administration that’s trying to make the problem worse. There were more obvious big news stories than climate change in 2018. But there weren’t any more important stories, in my view. That’s why it is my choice for the top story of the year. It’s the one most likely to affect the lives of future generations,” wrote David Leonhardt.
ARCTIC REPORT CARD: “The Arctic is undergoing its most unprecedented transition in human history. We’re seeing this continued increase of warmth pervading across the entire Arctic system,” said Dr. Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (December 2018)
“In 2018, warming air and ocean temperatures continued to drive broad long-term change across the polar region, pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory,” stated Emily Osborne. The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy”. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’s severe storms in the United States and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” The rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors.
TOO SMALL TO FAIL – HOW COMMUNITIES CAN PREPARE FOR BIGGER STORMS: “Smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, upon release of new report showcasing green infrastructure projects
“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada. The increase in costs is due in part to flooding, and this new report identifies some practical mitigation measures municipalities and NGOs can take to limit the impacts of bigger storms that we expect to see in coming years,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “The lesson of this report rests with its focus on the utility of small-scale, local flood mitigation projects.”
“Factors like land-use and land-cover changes, and vegetation changes have altered the underlying surface conditions and hydrological feedbacks that have, in turn, increased storm runoff,” report Columbia University researchers
“Our work helps explain the underlying physical mechanisms related to the intensification of precipitation and runoff extremes,” Pierre Gentine said. “This will help improve flood forecasting and early-warning alerts. Our findings can help provide scientific guidance for infrastructure and ecosystem resilience planning and could help formulate strategies for tackling climate change.” Gentine’s team plans next to try to partition the impacts of thermodynamic and atmosphere dynamics on precipitation to gain a deeper understanding about precipitation intensification.