This report serves as a scoping exercise to provide a baseline of understanding of the expected climate changes and associated impacts across coastal BC and the NSB over the coming decades. The available data project that rising air temperatures and changing precipitation patterns will lead to warmer summers, milder winters with less snowpack, and drier summer months. Sea surface temperatures will likely continue to increase. Ocean acidification is likely to increase as carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. More extreme weather events can be expected, with more storms, atmospheric river events, and coastal flooding. These impacts will likely have cumulative effects across the region.
The climate changes – both observed and projected – that are outlined in this report are likely to result in multiple impacts to the key sectors in the MaPP region, some of which are understood but many of which have a great deal of uncertainty associated with them. Long-range planning and early, proactive adaptation efforts will be very important to accommodate those predicted and also unanticipated impacts. This report is a starting point for additional research on climate changes, vulnerability and risk assessments, and climate change adaptation in the MaPP region and sub-regions.
When new global projections are available from the IPCC, and new regionally downscaled projections are available within BC and the MaPP region (and possibly sub-regions), a more specific understanding of the multiple impacts of climate change may be possible. However, acting now on climate change adaptation is important to prepare for the predicted changes ahead, to increase resilience, and to ensure that economic, social, and cultural opportunities are still available to the communities of the MaPP region.
Vulnerability and risk assessments may be conducted to set regional and sub-regional priorities for further research and monitoring, to understand the economic costs of climate impacts, and to inform planning and implementation of adaptation actions. To that end, additional work undertaken by Conger and Whitney in 2018 includes a review of vulnerability and risk assessment tools including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and tradeoffs of each as relevant to the context of the MaPP region and sub-regions. Looking ahead, we emphasize that given the uncertainty that currently exists in climate change projections and associated impacts, adaptation actions should be chosen that support resilient social-ecological systems and are flexible to allow management and communities to evolve as climate change unfolds.