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  • Authors: The Capital Regional District, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Pinna Sustainability Publication Date: Jun 2017

    Temperatures in the Capital Regional District (CRD) are warming. Global climate models project an average annual warming of about 3°C in our region by the 2050s. While that may seem like a small change, it is comparable to the difference between the warmest and coldest years of the past. The purpose of this report is to quantify, with the most robust projections possible, the related climate impacts (including changes to climate extremes) associated with warming. This climate information will then inform regional vulnerability and risk assessments, decision-making, and planning in the capital region, with a goal of improving resilience to climate change.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: May 2017

    Two recently published articles explore how projected changes to climate and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may affect grasslands in temperate regions and three crops in the United States. Addressing the first question in Nature Climate Change, Obermeier et al. (2017) find that the carbon dioxide fertilization effect in C3 grasslands is reduced when conditions are wetter, dryer or hotter than the conditions to which the grasses are adapted.

    Publishing in Nature Communications, Schauberger et al. (2017) examine the second question. They find that yields for wheat, soy and corn decline at projected temperatures greater than 30°C, with reductions in yield of 22% for wheat, 40% for soy and 49% for corn. While carbon fertilization does reduce the loss in yields, the effect is much smaller than that of irrigation, suggesting that water stress at higher temperatures may be largely responsible for losses.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jan 2017

    This Science Brief covers recent research by Mao et al. (2016) published in Nature Climate Change. The authors find that the observed greening of the land surface between 30-75° north over the 1982-2011 period is largely due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Authors: Metro Vancouver, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Pinna Sustainability Publication Date: Sep 2016

    Temperatures in Metro Vancouver are warming. Global climate models project an average increase of about 3°C in our region by the 2050s. Metro Vancouver’s ability to adapt to climate change requires specific information on how changes in temperature and precipitation will play out locally, how expected changes may vary throughout the seasons, and about new climate extremes. Work has been completed by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) to understand the details of how our climate may change by the 2050s and 2080s.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Sep 2016

    Two articles recently published in the peer reviewed literature examine two types of extreme weather events that affect coastal British Columbia, storm surge events and atmospheric river events.

    The first paper, by Soontiens et al. (2016) in Atmosphere-Ocean examines the ability of a numerical ocean model to simulate storm surges in the Strait of Georgia and the relative contribution of several factors to storm surge amplitude in the region. The authors use the model to simulate six storm surge events from the 2006-2012 period at four locations and find that the model does well at reproducing the magnitude of storm surges. They also find that the primary contribution to storm surges in the region are sea surface height anomalies from the Pacific, with local wind patterns causing small spatial differences in the sea surface height.

    The second paper, by Hagos et al. (2016) in Geophysical Research Letters uses output from a global climate model to examine changes to atmospheric river events over western North America, assuming large, business-as-usual anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The authors’ projections show an increase of about 35% in days on which atmospheric rivers make landfall in the last 20 years of the 21st century when compared to the last 20 years of the 20th century. Their projections also show a resulting increase of about 28% in extreme precipitation days.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jul 2016

    This PCIC Science Brief covers a recent paper by Sigmond and Fyfe (2016) that was published in Nature Climate Change. The authors investigate the causes of cooler winters over the early 2000s in North America and find that they vary by region. In the northwest, these cooler winters were largely due to a pattern of western cooling and central warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean. In central North America, the cooler winters were primarily due to changes in the northerly winds driven by increased sea level pressure on the west coast of North America.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Apr 2016

    The City of Vancouver is warming. Global climate models project annual average temperature to increase by 1.7°C to 4.0°C, and indicate an average increase of 2.9°C between the 1971-2000 baseline and the 2050s. This fact sheet provides specific information intended to facilitate adaptation as the climate changes. All values in the summary are for the 2050s relative to the 1971-2000 baseline. Additional variables, seasons, projections for the 2080s, and maps were also produced and provided to the City of Vancouver.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Apr 2016

    This memo summarizes some of the key information required for adaptation in the Whistler area. Projected changes include: increases to the intensity and frequency of heavy rain events; longer, hotter, drier summers and milder winters with reduced snowpack at lower elevations.

  • Authors: Faron S. Anslow Publication Date: Mar 2016

    In many respects, 2015 was a record year for British Columbia, too, both seasonally and for the year as a whole. To help us place last year’s conditions in BC into a historical and global context, PCIC Climatologist Dr. Faron Anslow offers his perspective on 2015. In brief, the warm winter saw records for daily maximum and minimum temperature broken in the southwest and this warmth continued into the spring, with the warmest minimum temperatures ever recorded in western and central BC and maximum temperature records broken in the north. While the summer and fall reverted to more typical conditions, the year overall remained exceptionally warm for the province.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Mar 2016

    The new Science Brief covers two recent papers by Beedle et al. (2015) and Clarke et al. (2015) on changes to glaciers in western Canada. Publishing in the journal The Cryosphere, Beedle et al. use photographic methods to quantify changes to 33 glaciers in the Cariboo Mountains. They find that all of the glaciers receded over the 1952-2005 period with an average loss in surface area of about 0.19% per year. Clarke et al.’s work is published in Nature Geoscience and uses a regional glaciation model driven by global climate model output to examine possible future changes to glaciers in western Canada. Their projections show a reduction of between 70% to 95% in both glacier area and volume by the year 2100 compared to 2005.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Dec 2015

    Publishing in the Reviews of Geophysics, Westra et al (2014) summarize the current state of research in the analysis of future changes to the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme rainfall. Their literature review highlights the complicated relationship between short duration extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperature. In some locations, such extreme precipitation does not simply scale with the ability of the atmosphere to hold moisture (i.e. at the Clausius-Clapyron rate of 6 to 7% per °C). Instead, at these locations the general pattern is that such a relationship is found to hold up to about 12 °C, but between 12 and 24 °C extreme precipitation appears to increase more strongly with warming. This is partly due to an increase in convective rainfall. However, above about 24 °C, the pattern at these locations is one in which the response of precipitation to increasing temperature appears to be weaker, eventually reversing. This may be due to decreased moisture availability at these temperatures, though Westra et al. note that “the mechanism that causes these moisture deficits remains to be investigated.” The authors also find that anticipated changes in sub-daily precipitation associated with a warming climate will “significantly affect the magnitude and frequency of urban and rural flash floods.”

    Compared to daily rainfall, Westra et al. find that sub-daily and sub-hourly rainfall are more sensitive to local surface temperatures. They also report that while sub-daily precipitation observations are too scarce to determine regional trends, geographic location will likely affect rates of change in daily precipitation extremes. In terms of making projections of future changes in these events, the authors find that, owing to the resolution of current global climate models, they are limited in their ability to simulate such precipitation events. In particular, the models are generally not run at sufficient resolution to accurately resolve the necessary convective processes, though some very high-resolution “convection permitting” regional climate models operate at a sufficient resolution to potentially be useful in projecting such extremes. One implication of these findings is that we cannot currently make credible projections of sub-daily rainfall events.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jul 2015

    In a recent paper published in Science, Karl et al. (2015) revise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) surface temperature data set and examine temperature trends in the updated data. The authors use a sea surface temperature data set that has been corrected for biases in sea surface data that arise due to the difference in measurements from ships and buoys, and the authors incorporate a much larger amount of data from land-based observations.
    They find that the global warming trend in the updated data set over the 1998-2012 period is just over double of that in the old data set, about 0.086 °C per decade, compared to 0.039 °C per decade. This is largely due to the corrections in sea surface temperature measurements. The updated data shows a statistically significant global warming trend over the 1998-2012 period and the authors note that their results “do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.”

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Apr 2015

    Two articles recently published in the peer-review literature seek to answer two related questions: What role could utilizing vegetation burning for energy, with methods to capture the carbon dioxide emitted, have in aggressive short-term climate mitigation in western North America? And, how might North American vegetation and its interactions with the climate change in the future?

    Addressing the first question in Nature Climate Change, Sanchez et al. (2015) find that western North America could attain a carbon-negative power system by 2050 through strong deployment of renewable energy sources, including BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), and fossil fuel reductions. Their results indicate that reductions of up to 145% from 1990s emissions are possible. They also find that the primary value of BECCS is not electricity production, but carbon sequestration, and note that BECCS can also be used to reduce emissions in the transportation and industrial sectors.

    Publishing in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Garnaud and Sushama (2015) examine the second question. In order to do this they downscale output from a global climate model using a regional climate model that can simulate vegetation dynamics. They find that the projected future increases to growing season length result in greater vegetation productivity and biomass, though this plateaus at the end of of the 21st century. Their projections also indicate an increase in the water-use efficiency of plants, but decreased plant productivity in the southeastern US over the 2071-2100 period. In addition, they find that accounting for vegetation feedbacks leads to increased warming in summer at higher latitudes and a reduction in summer warming at lower latitudes.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Feb 2015

    Two recently published articles serve to answer two questions about the response of the Earth’s climate to carbon emissions. The first paper, by Goodwin et al. (2014) in Nature Geoscience, investigates the question of why transient surface warming on the timescale of decades to centuries, due to cumulative carbon emissions, is nearly-linear. They find that this is the result of the competing effects of the ocean absorbing both heat and carbon. While the former initially reduces climate sensitivity by drawing down heat, it then increases climate sensitivity as this heat absorption reduces. This is offset by the latter, as the ocean removes carbon dioxide from the air. The authors also find, in line with previous research, that increasing emissions lead to increased surface warming and that this warming will last many centuries.

    The second article, by Ricke and Caldeira (2014) in Environmental Research Letters, uses model output to analyze the response of the Earth’s climate to pulses of carbon dioxide in order to answer the question of how long it takes for maximum warming to occur due to a given emission. They find that the median time between such an emission and the maximum warming due to that emission is 10.1 years. Their results lead the authors to state that, “[o]ur results indicate that benefit from avoided CO2 emissions will be manifested within the lifetimes of people who acted to avoid [those emissions].”

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Dec 2014

    Recent research by P.A. O’Gorman (2014), in the journal Nature, uses an ensemble of global climate model (GCM) simulations to examine the projected changes in both mean snowfall and daily snowfall extremes in a high greenhouse-gas emissions scenario. He finds that, while both mean snowfall and extreme snowfall decrease as the climate warms due to the influence of greenhouse gasses, the reduction in daily snowfall extremes is smaller than the reduction in mean snowfall. O’Gorman suggests, based on a simple physical model, that this may be due to snowfall extremes occuring near an optimal temperature that is insensitive to climate change.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Nov 2014
  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Nov 2014

    In a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, Meehl, Teng and Arblaster (2014) examine individual global climate model runs from models participating in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) to see if any runs replicated the observed early-2000s hiatus in surface temperature warming. They found that those individual model runs that have Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) values that matched with observed values successfully simulate the early 2000s hiatus. Using data available in the mid-1990s, they also apply a recently-developed climate prediction technique that uses modern global climate models (GCM), initialized with observations, to make so-called “decadal climate predictions” and find that both the negative phase of the IPO and the surface temperature hiatus could be predicted with this method, using only data that was available prior to the hiatus.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consotrium Publication Date: Nov 2014
  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Sep 2014

    In a recent article published in the journal Nature, Kossin et al. (2014) use satellite data and reanalysis products to see if there has been a shift in the latitudes at which tropical storms reach their maximum intensity over the 1982-2012 period. The authors find that, globally, the latitudes of maximum intensity have shifted poleward, 53 kilometres per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 62 kilometres per decade in the Southern Hemisphere. This trend of poleward migration is evident in all ocean basins, except the North Indian Ocean basin, in homogenized satellite and so-called “best track” data. Kossin and colleagues note that this migration is apparently linked to: (1) the absolute difference between wind speeds in the upper and lower troposphere and (2) potential intensity. These have both experienced changes that can be linked to the expansion of the tropics, which is thought to be due, in part, to anthropogenic causes.

  • Authors: PCIC & Pinna Sustainability Publication Date: Jul 2014

    To improve local understanding and manage the impacts of atmospheric river events, the B.C. Ministry of Environment commissioned work to summarize the current state of knowledge pertaining to BC on this topic and conduct a multi-agency qualitative risk assessment.
    In April 2013, scientists and researchers gathered in Victoria, B.C. to review and summarize the current state of knowledge on atmospheric rivers. As a result of their efforts, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Pinna Sustainability produced this "Atmospheric River State of Knowledge Report."