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  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Nov 2019

    Understanding how human influences are affecting different parts of the climate system allows us to improve future climate projections. Due to the relative sparsity of precipitation data and the large amount of internal variability that it exhibits, detecting and attributing the human influence on precipitation is difficult. This Science Brief covers recent research that uses information about the physical processes responsible for precipitation in order to detect the anthropogenic influence on winter precipitation over North America and Eurasia over the 1920-2015 period.

    Publishing in Geophysical Research Letters, Guo et al. (2019) use a technique known as "dynamical adjustment," to estimate the atmospheric circulation and thermodynamic contributions to observed precipitation over Eastern North America and Northern Eurasia over the 1920-2015 period. They find that the thermodynamic component, due to anthropogenic emissions, contributes to increases in precipitation in both regions. They then compare the spatial pattern and magnitude of these components to those obtained from global climate models driven with anthropogenic forcings. They find strong agreement between the thermodynamic components of precipitation obtained from the observational data and those obtained from climate model output.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Hydrometeorology, 20, 10, 2069-2089, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-18-0233.1 Authors: Ben Alaya, M.A.., F. Zwiers, and X. Zhang Publication Date: Oct 2019

    Recently dam managers have begun to use data produced by regional climate models to estimate how probable maximum precipitation (PMP) might evolve in the future. Before accomplishing such a task, it is essential to assess PMP estimates derived from regional climate models (RCMs). In the current study PMP over North America estimated from two Canadian RCMs, CanRCM4 and CRCM5, is compared with estimates derived from three reanalysis products: ERA-Interim, NARR, and CFSR. An additional hybrid dataset (MSWEP-ERA) produced by combining precipitation from the Multi-Source Weighted-Ensemble Precipitation (MSWEP) dataset and precipitable water (PW) from ERA-Interim is also considered to derive PMP estimates that can serve as a reference. A recently developed approach using a statistical bivariate extreme values distribution is used to provide a probabilistic description of the PMP estimates using the moisture maximization method. Such a probabilistic description naturally allows an assessment of PMP estimates that includes quantification of their uncertainty. While PMP estimates based on the two RCMs exhibit spatial patterns similar to those of MSWEP-ERA and the three sets of reanalyses on the continental scale over North America, CanRCM4 has a tendency for overestimation while CRCM5 has a tendency for modest underestimation. Generally, CRCM5 shows good agreement with ERA-Interim, while CanRCM4 is more comparable to CFSR. Overall, the good ability of the two RCMs to reproduce the major characteristics of the different components involved in the estimation of PMP suggests that they may be useful tools for PMP estimation that could serve as a basis for flood studies at the basin scale.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Oct 2019

    The October 2019 edition of the PCIC Update newsletter contains stories on: new adaptation reports for the Kootenay and Boundary, and Bulkley Nechako and Fraser-Fort George regions; work on PCIC's online tools; a co-produced report on the Cowichan Valley which was featured in the media; the new Gridded Hydrologic Model Output Data Portal page; the new video series on climate change and BC agriculture; going live and PCIC research to support salmon conservation. The newsletter also has a staff profile on Kari Tyler and covers the Pacific Climate Seminar Series, staff changes at PCIC and recent PCIC publications.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Hydrometeorology, 20, 9, 1757-1778, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-18-0262.1. Authors: Shrestha, R.R., A.J. Cannon, M. Schnorbus and H. Alford Publication Date: Sep 2019

    We describe a state-of-the-art framework for projecting hydrologic impacts due to enhanced warming and amplified moisture fluxes in the subarctic environment under anthropogenic climate change. We projected future hydrologic changes based on phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project global climate model simulations using the Variable Infiltration Capacity hydrologic model and a multivariate bias correction/downscaling method for the Liard basin in subarctic northwestern Canada. Subsequently, the variable importance of key climatic controls on a set of hydrologic indicators was analyzed using the random forests statistical model. Results indicate that enhanced warming and wetness by the end of century would lead to pronounced declines in annual and monthly snow water equivalent (SWE) and earlier maximum SWE. Prominent changes in the streamflow regime include increased annual mean and minimum flows, earlier maximum flows, and either increased or decreased maximum flows depending on interactions between temperature, precipitation, and snow. Using the variable importance analysis, we find that precipitation exerts the primary control on maximum SWE and annual mean and maximum flows, and temperature has the main influence on timings of maximum SWE and flow, and minimum flow. Given these climatic controls, the changes in the hydrologic indicators become progressively larger under the scenarios of 1.5°, 2.0°, and 3.0°C global mean temperature increases above the preindustrial period. Hence, the framework presented in this study provides a detailed diagnosis of the hydrologic changes as well as controls and interactions of the climatic variables, which could be generalized for understanding regional scale changes in subarctic/nival basins.

  • Authors: The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative Publication Date: Aug 2019

    Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Adaptation Strategies plan is the eighth regional plan developed as part of the Regional Adaptation Program delivered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative. The report contains a distinctive set of local sector impacts and priorities, as well as a series of strategies and actions for adapting and strengthening resilience. The plans are intended to offer clear actions suited to the specifics of the local context, both with respect to anticipated changes and local capacity and assets.

  • Authors: The Fraser Basin Council Publication Date: Aug 2019

    Climate change is challenging industry and communities across the Northeast region of the province. Wildfires, hail storms, and floods have already challenged local infrastructure and posed health risks to communities. Projected climate change for the region includes increases in frequency and intensity of extremes. Ensuring the region is as prepared as possible for future climate events is critical to maintaining a thriving community, robust natural environment, and vibrant economy. As prepared as possible means the region understands how the climate is changing, and is working together to increase resiliency, and to improve natural and physical infrastructure. Early efforts will reduce the reliance on emergency management and support the ability to thrive over time. Local governments in the region are taking a proactive approach to understanding how climate change will pose risks to Northeast communities and are planning together to build resiliency across the region.

    This document is intended to offer science-based information on how the Northeast’s climate is changing and expected to change over the 21st century. Designing to current and future climate parameters is anticipated to be markedly more cost effective than reacting to climate shocks and stresses over time. In the report, climate projections for the 2020s are offered to represent current climate conditions; projections for the 2050s illustrate the trajectory of change regardless of global emissions reductions; and projections for the 2080s illustrate our likely “business as usual” future climate scenario by late century. The 2020s projections are useful as they more accurately depict the current state of climate than historical observed baseline data. The 2050s projections are useful for medium-term planning and infrastructure purposes, while the 2080s provide guidance for long-term infrastructure decisions.

  • Source Publication: npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, 2, 24, doi:10.1038/s41612-019-0079-3 Authors: Sillmann, J., C. Weum Stjern, G. Myhre, B. Samset, Ø. Hodnebrog, O. Boucher, P. Forster, A. Kirkevåg, J.F. Lamarque, D. Olivié, D. Shindell, A. Voulgarakis, F. Zwiers, T. Andrews, G. Faluvegi, M. Kasoar, T. Richardson, T. Takemura, and V. Kharin Publication Date: Jul 2019

    Global warming due to greenhouse gases and atmospheric aerosols alter precipitation rates, but the influence on extreme precipitation by aerosols relative to greenhouse gases is still not well known. Here we use the simulations from the Precipitation Driver and Response Model Intercomparison Project that enable us to compare changes in mean and extreme precipitation due to greenhouse gases with those due to black carbon and sulfate aerosols, using indicators for dry extremes as well as for moderate and very extreme precipitation. Generally, we find that the more extreme a precipitation event is, the more pronounced is its response relative to global mean surface temperature change, both for aerosol and greenhouse gas changes. Black carbon (BC) stands out with distinct behavior and large differences between individual models. Dry days become more frequent with BC-induced warming compared to greenhouse gases, but so does the intensity and frequency of extreme precipitation. An increase in sulfate aerosols cools the surface and thereby the atmosphere, and thus induces a reduction in precipitation with a stronger effect on extreme than on mean precipitation. A better understanding and representation of these processes in models will provide knowledge for developing strategies for both climate change and air pollution mitigation.

  • Authors: The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative Publication Date: Jul 2019

    The Kootenay & Boundary Regional Adaptation Strategies plan is the seventh regional plan developed as part of the Regional Adaptation Program delivered by the BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative. The report contains a distinctive set of local sector impacts and priorities, as well as a series of strategies and actions for adapting and strengthening resilience. The plans are intended to offer clear actions suited to the specifics of the local context, both with respect to anticipated changes and local capacity and assets.

  • Authors: BC Housing, BC Hydro, the City of Vancouver, the City of New Westminster and the Province of BC Publication Date: Jun 2019

    The Design Guide Supplement on Overheating and Air Quality was published by BC Housing in collaboration with BC Hydro, the City of Vancouver, the City of New Westminster, and the Province of BC. It provides information on the key strategies and approaches necessary to reduce the impacts of a warmer climate on mid- and high-rise wood-frame and noncombustible residential buildings within British Columbia. Specifically, it is intended to provide building industry actors, including local governments, public sector organizations, architects, and developers, with an accessible source of information on the key means of addressing issues of overheating and indoor air quality.

  • Authors: Murdock, T. Publication Date: Jun 2019

    Presentation for the Private Forest Landowners Association Annual Conference.

  • Source Publication: Kootenay & Boundary Adaptation Strategies, The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative, 64 pp. Authors: The BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative Publication Date: Jun 2019
  • Source Publication: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2019GL082908. Authors: Li, C., F. Zwiers, X. Zhang, G. Chen, J. Lu, G. Li, J. Norris, Y. Tan, Y. Sun and M. Liu Publication Date: Jun 2019

    Climate models project that extreme precipitation events will intensify in proportion to their intensity during the 21st century at large spatial scales. The identification of the causes of this phenomenon nevertheless remains tenuous. Using a large ensemble of North American regional climate simulations, we show that the more rapid intensification of more extreme events also appears as a robust feature at finer regional scales. The larger increases in more extreme events than in less extreme events are found to be primarily due to atmospheric circulation changes. Thermodynamically induced changes have relatively uniform effects across extreme events and regions. In contrast, circulation changes weaken moderate events over western interior regions of North America, and enhance them elsewhere. The weakening effect decreases and even reverses for more extreme events, whereas there is further intensification over other parts of North America, creating an “intense gets intenser” pattern over most of the continent.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jun 2019

    PCIC's June 2019 newsletter covers the following stories: the Climate Report for Vancouver Coastal Health, the Regional Assessment for Northeastern BC and PCIC's Co-Produced report on the Cowichan Valley featured in the media. The newsletter also contains a staff profile on Dr. Whitney Huang, covers Dr. William Hsieh's lecture for the Pacific Climate Seminar Series and includes a story on the most recent Science Brief, on temperature and precipitation indices for Canada, in addition to staff changes and PCIC's peer-reviewed publications.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jun 2019

    As Canada's climate continues to change, trends in mean temperature and precipitation are evident, but so to are trends in indices based on temperature and precipitation observations. These are of interest to a wide range of sectors and this Science Brief covers a recent paper on changes to these indices in Canada.

  • Authors: Lower Mainland Facilities Management, Pinna Sustainability, The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: May 2019

    Rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events are already affecting Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and our Communities of Care. Chronic stresses and acute shocks are creating a “new climate reality” for health facilities and service delivery, and reshaping our working context.

    With this series of reports, Lower Mainland Facilities Management (LMFM) demonstrates forward-thinking public sector leadership; positions health authorities to meet legislated requirements for addressing climate risk and reducing emissions; and, enables major infrastructure projects to assess climate resilience.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Climate, early online access, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-18- 0461.1. Authors: Seiler, C., Publication Date: Apr 2019

    Extratropical cyclones (ETCs) are known to intensify due to three vertically interacting positive potential vorticity perturbations that are associated with potential temperature anomalies close to the surface (θB), condensational heating in the lower-level atmosphere (qsat), and stratospheric intrusion in the upper-level atmosphere (qtr). This study presents the first climatological assessment of how much each of these three mechanisms contributes to the intensity of extreme ETCs. Using relative vorticity at 850 hPa as a measure of ETC intensity, results show that in about half of all cases the largest contributions during maximum ETC intensity are associated with qsat (53% of all ETCs), followed by qtr (36%) and θB (11%). The relative frequency of storms that are dominated by qsat is higher 1) during warmer months (61% of all ETCs during warmer months) compared to colder months (50%) and 2) in the Pacific (56% of all ETCs in the Pacific) compared to the Atlantic (46%). The relative frequency of ETCs that are dominated by θB is larger 1) during colder months (13%) compared to warmer months (3%), 2) in the Atlantic (15%) compared to the Pacific (8%), and 3) in western (11%–20%) compared to eastern ocean basins (4%–9%). These findings are based on piecewise potential vorticity inversion conducted for intense ETCs that occurred from 1980 to 2016 in the Northern Hemisphere (3273 events; top 7%). The results may serve as a baseline for evaluating ETC biases and uncertainties in global climate models.

  • Authors: British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Publication Date: Apr 2019

    A forward-thinking group at Nanaimo Hospital developed a comprehensive climate risk assessment matrix which is becoming an integral part of their organizational decision-making. Future hospital retrofits will potentially include increased cooling capacity, enhanced air filtration, and other measures to reduce costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and protect the facility and its patients from the potential effects of climate change.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 11, 5, doi:10.1029/2018MS001532. Authors: He. Y., N. McFarlane and A. H. Monahan Publication Date: Mar 2019

    This paper presents a new mathematical formulation to account for the effects turbulent motions in comprehensive global climate models. The new formulation is based on recently published theoretical advances and results of high‐resolution numerical model simulations for specialized atmospheric turbulence regimes. The new formulation is tested and evaluated using a simplified model configuration designed to represent a single grid volume of a global climate model.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Mar 2019

    This edition of the PCIC Update covers work on modelling Fraser River streamflow temperatures, recently published wildfire research, the release of the PCIC Climate Explorer tool (PCEX), a new collaboration between the Canadian Centre for Climate Services and PCIC, recent research in precipitation extremes, work on incorporating the findings of climate science into engineering design, a staff profile on Yaqiong Wang, the release of the 2017-2018 Corporate Report, as well as the latest Science Brief, staff changes, recent publications and the ongoing Pacific Climate Seminar Series.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Feb 2019

    Real-time precipitation data can be of use to areas ranging from forecasting to forest fire management. This Science Brief covers a recent paper that examines the past ten years of a near real-time Canadian precipitation product.

    Writing in Atmosphere-Ocean, Fortin et al. (2018) examine the Canadian Precipitation Analysis (CaPA), a near real-time precipitation product covering all of North America that is produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada. They review papers that evaluate CaPA compared to precipitation observations as well as the applications of CaPA for various types of research, ranging from hydrology1 and hydrometeorology2 to biogeophysics3. They find that CaPA compares favourably against other precipitation data, and report that it has been used successfully in studies across a number of fields, including hydrometeorology, hydrology, land surface and atmospheric modelling.