Northern Shelf Bioregion Climate Change Assessment

Northern Shelf Bioregion Climate Change Assessment

Projected climate changes, sectoral impacts, and recommendations for adaptation strategies across the Canadian North Pacific Coast | 2018

Climate Change Assessment

The world’s climate is changing at an increasingly rapid rate due to greenhouse gas emissions from human industrial activity and population growth. While these changes are global, the ramifications occur at all scales, and decisions for adaptation must be made. Governments, regions, and communities need to understand what is happening, what knowledge gaps exist, and how they may be able to respond.

Coastal regions are unique and especially vulnerable to climate change, and the impacts are diverse and often cumulative. Identifying how these changes are already starting to occur, and could occur in the future, is important for planning appropriate management responses.

Written by Charlotte K. Whitney and Tugce Conger

Citation: Whitney, Charlotte, and Tugce Conger. 2019. “Northern Shelf Bioregion Climate Change Assessment: Projected Climate Changes, Sectoral Impacts, and Recommendations for Adaptation Strategies Across the Canadian North Pacific Coast.” MarXiv. May 3.

Northern Shelf Bioregion Climate Change Assessment, report cover page.


Planning for adaptation to climate change requires regionally-relevant information on rising air and ocean temperatures, sea levels, increasingly frequent and intense storms, and other climate-related impacts. However, in many regions there are limited focused reviews of the climate impacts, risks, and potential adaptation strategies for coastal marine areas and sectors. We report on a regional assessment of climate change impacts and recommendations for adaptation strategies in the NE Pacific (British Columbia, Canada), conducted in collaboration with a regional planning organization (Marine Plan Partnership), aimed at bridging the gaps between climate science and regional adaptation planning. We incorporated both social and ecological aspects of climate change impacts and adaptations, and the feedback mechanisms which may result in both increased risks and opportunities for the following sectors: ‘Ecosystems’, ‘Fisheries and Aquaculture’, ‘Communities’, and ‘Marine Infrastructure’. Climate change impacts are already evident across the region, and over the coming decades air and ocean temperatures will continue to rise, along with sea levels, ocean acidification, ocean deoxygenation, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. As next steps for communicating the results within the region, which is currently undergoing a participatory coastal marine planning process, we propose proactive planning measures including communication of the key impacts and projections and cross-sectoral assessments of climate vulnerability and risk to direct decision making.

Written by Charlotte K. Whitney1,3 and Tugce Conger2,3

  1. School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria
  2. Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
  3. Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions