Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America


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REMOTE TALK: An overview of decadal climate variability in the historical record

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Chadee, Y. Honda, Q. Liu, J. Olwoch, B. Revich, and R. Sauerborn Human health: impacts, adaptation, and co-benefits. Pulhin, J. Barnett, G. Dabelko, G. Hovelsrud, M. Oswald Spring, and C. Vogel Human security. Wong, P. Losada, J.

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Gattuso, J. Hinkel, A. Khattabi, K. McInnes, Y. Saito, and A. Sallenger Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas. Handmer, J. Honda, Z. Kundzewicz, N. Hatfield, I. Mohamed, P. Peduzzi, S. Wu, B. Sherstyukov, K. Takahashi, and Z. Yan, Changes in impacts of climate extremes: human systems and ecosystems. Olsson, L. Opondo, P. Tschakert, A. Agrawal, S. Eriksen, S. Ma, L. Perch, and S. Zakieldeen Livelihoods and poverty.

Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. A Report by the U. Gamble, J. Ebi, F. Sussman, T. Wilbanks, Authors. Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Report. Reisinger, A. Kitching, F. Chiew, L. Hughes, P. Newton, S. Schuster, A. Tait, and P. Whetton Kovats, R. Valentini, L. Bouwer, E. Georgopoulou, D. Jacob, E. Martin, M. Rounsevell, and J. Soussana Magrin, G. Marengo, J. Boulanger, M. Buckeridge, E. Castellanos, G.

Poveda, F. Scarano, and S. Central and South America. Romero-Lankao, P. Smith, D. Davidson, N. Diffenbaugh, P. Kinney, P. Kirshen, P.

Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America

Kovacs, and L. Villers-Ruiz North America. Larsen, J. Anisimov, A. Constable, A. Hollowed, N. Maynard, P. Prestrud, T. Prowse, and J. Stone Polar regions. Nurse, L. McLean, J. Agard, L. Briguglio, V. Duvat-Magnan, N. Pelesikoti, E. Tompkins, and A. Webb Small islands.

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International Climate Impacts Farmers need access to weather and market information to make decisions, especially as climate change alters historical patterns. Impacts will vary by region and by population. Many people in developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change impacts than people in developed countries. Impacts across the globe can have economic, health, and national security implications for the United States and other nations. Megacities For the first time in human history, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. Large temperature increases have resulted in a reduced snowpack, even in snowmelt-dominated basins where net precipitation has increased Mote, a, b; Stewart et al.

Reductions in snowpack have changed streamflow volumes and timing, while many lakes and rivers also show shorter periods of ice cover BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, and earlier spring ice melt Bonsal et al. Spring melt now occurs earlier in many BC rivers Zhang et al. Also significantly impacting regional hydrology is the rapid melting of alpine glaciers, many of which may disappear in the next years Box 1. Glaciers are a major source of fresh water for western Canada, with glacial runoff currently maintaining river discharge and regulating temperatures in many western Canadian rivers Fleming, ; Fleming and Clark, ; Moore, , supplementing surface runoff during the summer when aquatic ecosystems are most vulnerable and demand for water highest.

Most of BC's glaciers are losing mass and many will disappear in the next years. Information on the rates and magnitude of glacier retreat is important for water resource management and planning, which has to address demands for human consumption, irrigation, industrial use and hydroelectric power generation, as well as in-stream ecological needs. Climate change and increasing water resource demands are expected to exacerbate existing supply-demand mismatches Environment Canada, Decreasing summer flows resulting from reduced glacier melt, combined with increasing summer water demands to meet rising irrigation requirements and energy needs for cooling, presents one of the most significant water resource challenges for BC, a province seemingly blessed with water.

Analysis for the entire Pacific Northwest suggests that historical streamflow trends will continue, with many rivers running 30 to 40 days earlier by Stewart et al. Increasing temperatures and precipitation changes will reduce snowpack and increase winter runoff for most of BC Hamlet and Lettenmaier, ; Mote and Hamlet, Reduced snowpack and earlier snow melt, combined with higher evapotranspiration, will result in earlier spring peak flows and reduced April to September streamflows. Combined, these hydrological impacts will affect several of BC's key economic sectors, including hydroelectric power generation see Section 3.

Climate change also impacts groundwater systems, with the greatest changes evident in shallow aquifer systems Rivera et al. Even small changes in temperature and precipitation alter groundwater recharge rates and water table depths e.

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Changnon et al. Reductions in stream flow will have negative effects on both groundwater recharge and discharge Scibek and Allen, As groundwater discharge serves to moderate stream temperatures, reduced summer discharge would result in even greater increases in surface water temperatures than would occur from air temperatures alone. In coastal regions, climate change will also impact groundwater quality due to saltwater intrusion in response to sea-level rise e. Lambrakis and Kallergis, ; Yin, Globally, mean eustatic sea level increased 10 to 20 cm during the twentieth century, and is anticipated to rise another 18 to 59 cm by , due largely to melting glaciers and ice sheets, and thermal expansion of warming seawater Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, In British Columbia, relative sea-level change differs from the global trend due to vertical land movements.

Sea-level rise is an important issue in BC, as it impacts coastal infrastructure, such as highways, sewer systems, shipping terminals and Vancouver International Airport. For perspective, an arbitrary 1 m rise in sea level would inundate more than ha of farmland and more than 15 ha of industrial and residential urban areas in British Columbia Yin, Approximately people live near or below sea level in Richmond and Delta in Greater Vancouver, and are protected by km of dykes that were not built to accommodate sea-level rise B.

Kangesneimi, BC Ministry of Environment, pers. Many remote coastal communities and First Nations' heritage sites are vulnerable to enhanced erosion and storm-surge flooding associated with sea-level rise. Finally, sea-level rise can result in saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers, affecting the quality and quantity of drinking and irrigation water supplies Liteanu, ; Allen, On British Columbia's coast, the height of damaging extreme high-water events is increasing at a rate faster than sea-level rise e.

At Tofino, where relative sea level has fallen, the extreme high-water events show little change.

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Extreme water levels have increased significantly since the positive PDO shift of Abeysirigunawardena and Walker, in press. On BC's north coast, sea levels rose 10 to 40 cm above seasonal heights in — causing extensive localized erosion Crawford et al. Several consistent themes emerge from a wide range of studies:. Key findings regarding ongoing and future climate changes in British Columbia include the following:. Both are naturally occurring patterns, but their frequency and intensity appear to be changing in response to global climate change Trenberth and Hurrell, ; Timmermann, Prehistoric Records of Variability and Change Natural archives, such as lake and ocean sediments, tree rings, glacial ice and landforms, provide insights into the climate variability and environmental history of British Columbia prior to the instrumental record.

Superimposed on this longer term climate history is a complex pattern of climate variability that includes: abrupt changes in climate Gedalof and Smith, ; Chang et al. In particular, the glacial record shows that current warming rates are unprecedented in the last years Menounos et al. Three key lessons emerge from the prehistoric climate record that are of relevance to the assessment of future climate change: Abrupt changes in climate, similar to the shift in , are common in the prehistoric record, as are abrupt changes in ocean circulation.

Influences of large-scale patterns of climate variability e.

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Consequently, the instrumental record probably does not reflect the full range of variability of the climate system, which may respond unpredictably to changes in forcing. Severe, sustained droughts occurred more frequently in previous centuries than over the past few decades, and would therefore be expected to occur in the future irrespective of climate change. Date Modified: Increased warm temperature extremes Footnote 1 ; fewer extreme cold days and nights, fewer frost days and more extreme warm nights and days Footnote 2 ; longer frost-free period Footnote 3.

Daily minimum and maximum temperatures higher in all seasons; greatest warming in spring and winter Footnote 3. Interior warmed more than the coast Footnote 3. Warming in spring, fall and winter, but not summer Footnote 5 Footnote 6. Warmer winters, cooler falls Footnote 7. Warmer average annual temperature Footnote 5.

Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America
Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America
Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America
Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America
Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America
Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America Historical Climate Variability and Impacts in North America

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