In this file photo

Scientists project warmer, wetter winters for B.C.

Earlier runoff could spell summer water supply problems

  • Oct. 2, 2013 7:00 p.m.

Jeff Nagel/Black Press

Climate change will likely mean warmer, rainier winters in B.C. as well as reduced summer stream flows, a forum in Vancouver heard Monday as new international findings were released.

Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) and vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group 1, said projections for B.C. point to further warming of 2.9 degrees in the winter and 2.4 degrees in the summer by 2100, under a moderate carbon emission scenario.

Winter warming on that scale could translate into 17 to 51 more days per year of frost-free conditions, he told the forum, in the wake of the already measured reduction of 24 annual frost days since 1900 and a 2.1-degree increase in the province’s winter temperatures.

While a longer growing season might be a boon to gardeners and farmers, Zwiers noted warming winters have also allowed unwanted species like the mountain pine beetle to flourish and wreak havoc on Interior forests.

“That’s an impact that has been linked to a changing climate,” Zwiers said.

“You can just imagine there would be many other organisms that would find B.C. to be a much more hospitable place to live, even in a slightly warmer climate than we have at the moment, or a slightly wetter climate than we have at the moment.”

PCIC researchers projected climate changes in B.C. over the rest of this century using the same models as the IPCC.

Winter warming would be greater in the northeast than other parts of the province, while summer warming projections are roughly uniform.

Zwiers said the modelling shows winter, spring and fall precipitation will increase in B.C., with a 10 per cent increase in precipitation in winters expected and summers potentially getting wetter in the north but drier in the south.

Wetter, warmer winters could affect the province’s supply of water for drinking, farming, power generation and salmon migration.

With less water being stored as snow over the winter, Zwiers said, B.C. can expect higher amounts of winter and spring runoff, leaving less behind in the upper elevations to deliver water in summer.

The new IPCC report reiterated that the planet is warming and people are the probable cause.

But some observers criticized it for downgrading projected temperature increases due to a 15-year “pause” in average surface temperature rise.

Zwiers maintained human influence is clear and action is urgently needed to both reduce emissions and adapt to expected “substantial” impacts.

The IPCC report predicts Canada will face more warming than the global average, along with more frequent and more intense extreme weather events.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Updated: City of Revelstoke workers vote to strike

This comes a day after city council gave themselves a raise

Revelstoke councillor revokes support for raises for mayor and council

Cody Younker proposed the raises in the first place and now no longer supports them

Fair pay? Revelstoke council seeks wage similar to Salmon Arm counterparts

Neighbouring mountain town pursues different path to increase remuneration

Highway 1 to close west of Revelstoke for avalanche control

DriveBC says the road will be closed between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

LETTER: Cross is a man of integrity and honesty

Dear editor, Another year has gone and wow are things getting better,… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Health upgrades in South Okanagan and Similkameen forecast to cost nearly $10 million

Capital projects include CT scanner, medical vacuum system, ultrasounds and more

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Most Read