FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Northeast Climate Risk Network hosted it’s first ever meeting on climate change and its impact on infrastructure in Northeast B.C. on Monday.
The Network is comprised of local governments in Northeast B.C., including Pouce Coupe, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.
The event was kicked-off by Fraser Basin Council Executive Director David Marshall who gave a brief explanation about what the Council does.
“The Basin Council has been around for over 20 years in the Northeast. In 2009 they expanded to province-wide in regards to issues such as climate change, water management and sustainable communities. Last March, through the B.C. regional adaptation collaborative we convened a workshop in Fort St. John on floods and drought. We invited the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to come. Where there were really good presentations on wildfires and flooding.”
The result of that event secured the Network a $250,000 grant from the Federation in addition to nearly $100,000 from the province and local communities to assist with the developing of regional climate projections and conducting vulnerability assessments in order to better integrate adaptation to community decision making and planning.
This comes after the last couple of years of severe weather to hit the region’s residents and infrastructure, especially in 2016 which including extensive flooding in the summer and wildfires in the spring which caused major damage.
He then gave the floor to the head scientist of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and guest speaker Trevor Murdock.
Murdock went on to say that Northeast B.C. has experienced streamflow highs and lows from 2015 to 2017 along with major flooding, record-breaking heat, drought, and gave a glimpse into the future as to what he thinks will happen.
Murdock added that he predicted record-breaking warm years with the quantity depending on greenhouse gas emission. There will be reduced snowpack, earlier spring peaks, lower summertime low flows along with extremely hot, dry and wet extremes. Warmer winters mean fewer frost days which can impact the permafrost days which can be bad for farmers. the extremely hot summers can lead to more growing days for farmers but also impacts the amount of precipitation the crops have.
One attendee asked Murdock about the fact that the earth has warmed up before and stabilized itself on its own to which his answer was, “yes it has but over a long, gradual period of time whereas the recent jump over the last couple decades has been drastic.”
According to the data presented, the region has experienced a 2.2-degree increase in the past 100 years, while the province jumped 1.2 degrees. Worldwide saw a temperature rise of 1 degree on average.
The Network wants to meet a handful of times per year with hopes that other communities in the area will join.