Category Archives: climate change

PCIC releases new climate summaries for BC regions

The University of Victoria’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium has developed a new set of climate change summaries for different regions of BC, including the Kootenay Boundary region. The summaries describe past climate and future projected changes, and provide an overview of potential impacts based on the Plan2Adapt tool.

Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium "Climate Summary for Kootenay / Boundary Region".
Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium “Climate Summary for Kootenay / Boundary Region”.


We have put together a set of climate summaries for the eight resource regions of BC. These were made with the support of the BC Ministry of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, as part of our ongoing mission to help regional stakeholders in British Columbia plan for projected changes to climate.

These summaries describe climate change projections for each region in the context of historical observations and province-wide climate change. Each one begins with a brief, general overview of climate change in BC and a short discussion of the topography, climate influences, ecosystems and economies of the region. The summaries present the historical climate trends of the regions, before providing future climate projections for the region and discussing briefly what impacts these may have for various sectors, infrastructure and ecosystems. Over the historical period, temperature and precipitation are covered. The future projections section discusses temperature, precipitation and, in addition, provides a table of projected changes to snowfall, growing degree days, heating degree days and frost-free days for the 2050s.

These summaries make use of PCIC’s Plan2Adapt tool and the CANGRID and PRISM climate data sets. Reports for the CaribooKootenay-BoundaryNortheastOminecaSkeenaSouth CoastThompson-Okanagan and West Coast regions are available either individually or together in a .ZIP file.

Flood, fire & famine: Forum on Building Climate Change Resilience in the Boundary

On the evening of September 26 in Christina Lake, 55 people from across the Boundary and beyond joined the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group at a special forum to discuss climate change impacts and ways to build resilience in the Boundary.

Advisory Group Chairperson & RDKB Area ‘C’ Director Grace McGregor and a panel of experts on climate, food systems, economics, ecosystems and watersheds walked participants through provocative and proactive dialogue about how we can develop regional solutions for climate adaptation.

More extremes and record heat – how the new climate warms up and becomes more variable (graphic adapted by Greg Utzig from Mel Reasoner)

The evening started off with a great meal of local food cooked by Lisa Smith and the crew from Lisa’s Lakeside Bistro. Then ecologist Greg Utzig gave a thorough (and sobering) account of how climate change will likely alter the landscapes and ecosystems of the Boundary. In short, changes will be dramatic: grasslands and shrublands will advance as more and more forests will succumb to fire, disease and drought stress. The climatic conditions that allowed our forests to establish will simply cease to occur, and we will need to rethink planning, management and operations in everything from forestry to ranching to recreation. And the bottom line, said Greg, is that the only solution is reducing the production of greenhouse gases – there is no adaptation without mitigation.

Next, Roly Russell gave a dynamic presentation how we might meet the challenge of providing food in a truly sustainable way, including producing more food, getting food to markets, and reducing the impacts of food production. Graham Watt talked about impacts on the Kettle River watershed and solutions relating to water conservation, water re-use and making our shorelines and floodplains more resilient. Ryan Durand focused on the importance of wetlands and of inventorying and mapping our sensitive ecosystems so we can better plan for what we need to protect and restore, and Sandy Mark finished off the presentations by discussing community-based solutions such as linked cooperative development, community solar power, and community-based investment.

In the final part of the evening, participants discussed opportunities and challenges around key initiatives such as community planning to protect riparian and streamside areas; municipal incentives for water capture, storage and re-use; enabling policy for food system planning; local solar power; decreasing interface fire risk with fuel harvest and silviculture; and the challenge conserving and restoring our eco-assets.

The next steps will be to connect the dots among the regional initiatives that touch on climate change and resilience: Official Community Plans, conservation planning, watershed management planning, agricultural area planning, forest management planning, and other activities. A small discussion and working group will soon convene to brainstorm next steps and begin working towards a regional resilience plan – get in touch with Graham ( if you would like to be involved.

Thank you Grace McGregor and the RDKB for hosting and funding the event. Thank you Lisa Smith and our presenters for such great food for thought (and our bellies). Thank you Les Johnson for recording and putting the forum up on Youtube, and thank you to all of the participants for attending and putting your thinking caps on. And finally, thank you to Sandy Mark, Lorraine Dick, Mark Ingham and other helpers who made set-up and logistics such a breeze.

Introduction to evening:

Presentations – to jump to specific points of interest use the links below (opens in the youtube webpage):

  • 0:00:34 Greg Utzig – Keynote presentation: What is climate change and how will it affect life in southern BC?
  • 0:36:45 – Graham Watt on Climate Change and Water Resources
  • 0:46:17 – Roly Russell on Food Climate and Resilience
  • 0:58:35 – Ryan Durand – Ecosystems
  • 1:06:10 – Sandy Mark – Economics, Climate Change and Community
  • 1:20:20 – Q&A

Discussion group records

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RDKB to host forum on building resilience to climate change in the Boundary

The climate is changing. Warmer temperatures, rising oceans, and shrinking glaciers are on the top of people’s minds, but how will climate change affect our communities in the Boundary, and what can we do to adapt?

On the evening of September 26 in Christina Lake, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) will be hosting a provocative and proactive discussion, “Flood, Fire & Famine: Forum on Building Resilience to Global Climate Change in the Boundary.”

“Climate change impacts will likely be severe in the Boundary and across southern BC,” said Graham Watt, Coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the RDKB. “Most of our forests could turn to grass and scrub in our lifetimes or our children’s lifetimes, and longer growing seasons combined with less available water will stress water supplies and aquatic ecosystems over the coming decades.”

The Forum will be hosted by Grace McGregor, Chair of the Kettle River Stakeholder Advisory Committee and RDKB Area ‘C’ Director. A panel of experts on climate, food systems, economics, ecosystems and watersheds (Greg Utzig, Roly Russell, Sandy Mark, Ryan Durand and Graham Watt) will share information on climate change impacts in the Boundary, and lead group discussions about how to build regional resilience to climate change.

“We know that this is an issue that will affect the whole world as well as every corner of the Boundary,” said McGregor. “How can we work together to develop regional solutions to these challenges?”

“We look forward to seeing what kinds of ideas and initiatives participants want to discuss – everything from water conservation to tourism development to ecosystem restoration will be on the table,” said Watt. “What we’ll need is new understanding, and new energy, to develop the relationships and capacity to implement the solutions discussed at the forum.”

The Regional District is inviting people from multiple sectors, including public works staff, members of business, industrial, forestry, stewardship and tourism organizations, and First Nations. There are also a number of spaces for the general public who can register at .

This forum is a free event made possible by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and RDKB Electoral Area ‘C’. It includes a dinner featuring local food. Contact Graham Watt ( for more information.

Draft Agenda:

  • 6:30 – Welcome (Grace McGregor)
  • 6:35- 7:30 – Dinner featuring food from local producers
  • 6:40-7:10 – Keynote Presentation: What is climate change and how will it affect life in southern BC? (Greg Utzig, Conservation Ecologist & Soil Scientist)
  • 7:10-7:45 – Four lenses for climate change resilience in the Boundary: Food systems, water resources, ecosystems and economics (Roly Russell, Graham Watt, Ryan Durand, and Sandy Mark)
  • 7:45-8:00 – Questions for panel
  • 8:00-9:00 – Group discussions on resilience challenges and strategies in the Boundary
  • 9:00-9:30 – Sharing of highlights (Graham Watt to facilitate)
  • 9:30 – Closing (Grace McGregor)
View of the Grand Forks valley in December 2011. Winters will bring less and less snow to the valleys because of climate change (Graham Watt)
View of the Grand Forks valley in December 2011. Winters will bring less and less snow to the valleys because of climate change (Graham Watt)

New CCME report on tools for climate change vulnerability assessments for watersheds

Climate change impacts on Canada’s water resources are expected to be significant. Direct impacts of changes in precipitation and air temperature include earlier peak flows, greater flood risk, and more extreme droughts. Related impacts on climate, terrestrial and freshwater environments will also affect nutrient cycling, stream temperatures, the distribution, concentration, and timing of contaminants, and the transport and concentrations of sediments in watercourses.

Different watersheds and their communities vary in how susceptible they are to climate change impacts, as well as how well they can cope with and adapt to changes. This is known as vulnerability. A community can choose to do a vulnerability assessment to determine areas where their watersheds are most susceptible to climate impacts, as well as find the strengths and weaknesses in terms of their land use planning, emergency response, engineering standards, or community resilience.

Image from:
Image from:

To help planners, hydrologists, and communities with this task, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has released a new report about how to assess the vulnerability of watersheds to climate change. Read the full report here:

New study on climate change impacts in Alberta

A new study from the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute points to the changes in water resources, vegetation and ecosystems that could affect Alberta’s landscapes in the coming century.

Using a range of computer model scenarios available through the Climate WNA modeling tool, a team of scientists led by University of Alberta biologist Richard Schneider found that even if society is able to rein in emissions, forests could change to grasslands and wetlands could dry up with a temperature increase of about 2 ?. Under scenarios of higher emissions the temperature could rise as high as 6.5 ?, which could mean the eventual loss of the boreal forest.

From Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute:

Alberta’s Natural Subregions under a Changing Climate

Alberta’s Natural Regions are predicted to shift northward in response to climate change

EDMONTON, August 27, 2013 – The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) has released the most comprehensive report to date describing how Alberta’s ecosystems are likely to respond to climate change. In Alberta’s Natural Subregions under a Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future, Dr. Richard Schneider presents state-of-the-art climate projections for the province and a detailed analysis of how Alberta’s ecosystems are likely to shift in response to climate change over the next century…