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Dave Sauchyn, Ph.D., P.Geo. C-CIARN Prairies Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry Ottawa, December, 2002.

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Presentation on theme: "Dave Sauchyn, Ph.D., P.Geo. C-CIARN Prairies Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry Ottawa, December, 2002."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dave Sauchyn, Ph.D., P.Geo. C-CIARN Prairies Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry Ottawa, December, 2002 Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in the Prairie Provinces



4 Projections (broad generalizations) for the future climate of the Prairie Provinces Temperature: increasing, greater in winter than summer, greater at night than during day Precipitation: great uncertainty, annually small increase to significant decrease Evaporation: increased Soil moisture: decreased Growing season: increased Atmospheric CO 2 : increased Extreme events: increased frequency and magnitude Hydrology: increased variability, earlier peak flows

5 Natural and socio-economic systems are sensitive to climatic variability, climatic change and extreme hydroclimatic events The Canadian Plains

6 Land Cover Soil

7 PFRA, 2001




11 Adaptation Options Share the Loss Bear the Loss Modify the Events Prevent the Effects Research Education, Behavioural Avoid the Impacts Structural, Technological Legislative, Regulatory, Financial Institutional, Administrative Market-based On-site Operations Change Use Change Location

12 Impacts and Adaptations in Forestry  Major impacts are likely to be:  changes in forest productivity  increases in fires and insect attack  changes in occurrence of commercially-important species Sustainable forest management has been shown to be able to adapt, but...  Requires stronger science regarding impacts, ecosystem responses  Requires integration of climate change impacts with those of other land use activities

13 Dry soils – productivity declines in the future Medium soils – productivity increases, then declines Wet soils – productivity increases in the future Note: Analysis assumes soils fully recharged following snowmelt Dry soils Medium soils Wet soils Source: Johnston 2001

14 Mean increase in fire season severity under 2 X CO2 (Flannigan et al. 2001)

15 Soil eroded from the conventional and minimum till plots in 1990 [two events] was 70% and 73%, respectively, of the total soil eroded during the operation of the plots from 1986 to 1993. Severe and widespread erosion could still occur during extreme climatic events and especially during a period of years with back-to-back droughts. Very severe wind and water erosion is dominated by infrequent occurrences of when highly erosive events impact exposed soil. Such events may only happen once during the farming lifetime of an individual farmer, making it difficult to justify the expense and inconvenience of many soil conservation practices. Prairie Agricultural Landscapes (PFRA 2000: 32-33)

16 Adaptation to Climatic Variability A projected increase in climate variability, including more frequent drought and major hydroclimatic events, is the most ominous climate change scenario. It is a more formidable and complex challenge than the adaptation of practices, processes and infrastructure to long-term climate trends. More extreme climate anomalies are more likely to exceed natural and engineering thresholds beyond which the impacts of climate are much more severe.



19 Near Outlook, Saskatchewan, May 2, 2002

20 Soil drifting near Oyen, Alberta, May 5, 2002


22 Ad hoc responses to an existing drought crisis may lead to untimely and costly short-term solutions. In contrast, a risk management approach to drought allows an immediate, effective response during a drought crisis, and also reduces drought impacts over the long term through planning and preparedness. Agriculture Drought Risk Management Plan for Alberta


24 Social Cohesion Survey How Seriousness is Climate Change?

25 Social Cohesion Survey What are you doing to adapt to Adjust to Climate Change?

26 1.The Prairies Provinces are projected to experience the greatest increases in temperatures as a result of future climate changes of any region in Canada. 2.The Prairie Provinces are characterized by diverse ecosystems, high climatic variability, and key aspects of the economy that are climatically sensitive. 3.The major direct impact of global warming in the Prairies Provinces will likely be increased aridity over a larger area. Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Prairies

27 4.Higher temperatures and a longer growing season will potentially support crop production over a larger area than at present, however, decreased soil moisture and water supplies may limit these opportunities. 5.Projected shifts in climate variability and the frequency of extreme events would significantly impact the people and economy of the Prairie Provinces. Most climate models forecast and increase in the frequency and severity of drought. 6.The Rocky Mountains are the primary source of water for most of the population of Saskatchewan and Alberta. C hanges in the extent of snow and glaciers will affect the timing and storage of runoff and require adaptation of water management practices.

28 7.The impacts of a warmer drier conditions on the western boreal forest (increased fire frequency and intensity; increases in insect outbreaks, and changes in productivity) will impact the ability of the forest industry to harvest timber and will challenge provincial forest protection programs and budgets. 8.Prairie people, and especially farmers, have a relatively large capacity to adapt to climate change because of a history of adaptation to climatic variability, including periodic drought and floods. Nonetheless, rural communities are vulnerable. 9.Planning of adaptation to climate change requires improved understanding of the process of adaptation. Research is needed on the cost of both impacts and adaptation, and the social aspects of climate change.

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