Seminar Abstract

Arelia Werner

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Community-level assessments of climate change and variability


After completing an overview of hydro-climatology in British Columbia, several communities requested that the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) complete assessments of climate change at their local level. These assessments contain attractive graphics and maps, which convey pertinent information to community members and decision makers. Although materials were targeted to the small-scale, the ability of the community to assimilate this information was uncertain.

Communities that PCIC staff have worked with to date include: Whitehorse; Atlin; Dawson City; the Cariboo-Chilcotin and the South Coast. Information was tailored to suit the needs of communities after discussion with local technical staff and representatives, such as staff of the Northern Climate Exchange, the City of Whitehorse or the Integrated Land Management Bureau at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. The number of people involved in crafting these assessments was highly variable, and interaction took place remotely via phone conversations or through hands-on involvement in processes, such as Charrettes. Thereby, the needs of communities were explored through engagement with local representatives coming from different backgrounds and responsibility levels, who participate in decision-making.

The results show a strong desire by community-level decision-makers to understand the consequences of global climate change and regional impacts that can be applied to their community. However, there is frequently confusion between the consequences of climate change as compared to climate variability. Although technical information is needed, the methodology is often not appreciated. Furthermore, there is a need for a broad explanation of climate mechanics in Pacific North America. These limitations demand additional time for personal interaction, repetition of concepts, and concrete examples or demonstrations of the issues. Ultimately, the driving theme of these interactions was the need for community members to address the question, “What does this mean for us?” in terms of water supply, energy requirements and infrastructure.

Speaker bio:

Arelia Werner has worked with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium since October 2006. She completed her M.Sc. at the Water and Climate Impacts Research Centre (W-CIRC) at the University of Victoria in December 2007, where she worked under the direction of Terry Prowse and John Gibson. The focus of her graduate thesis was to investigate the seasonality of the water balance of the Sooke Reservoir, the water supply for the Greater Victoria Area. In her capacity as a hydrologist at PCIC, she worked with the PCIC team to create an overview of hydro-climatology and future climate impacts in British Columbia. This report created the foundation for further assessments of the impacts of climate change of multiple communities in BC and the Yukon. Additionally, her responsibilities include developing and executing a 4-year research program that will deliver projected hydrographs for streams of interest to BC Hydro. This will entail both hydrologic modelling and testing of RCM output for BC.