Climate Change Adaptation
Adapting to climate change involves preparing a community to handle its effects. It means making Prince George resilient to further, unexpected events in the coming decades.
Average temperatures in Prince George have increased in the past 90 years. Annual average temperatures are expected to go up by 1.9 to 3.7 degrees Celsius by 2050 and bring warmer winters and long, dry summers. Prince George is already experiencing the impacts of climate change in the form of more intense wildfire seasons, forest pest infestations, and less snow in the winter.
The City has made adjustments in response to many climate-related impacts, which are expected to intensify over the next 50 years. Prince George is in the process of updating its collaborative community Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to avoid impacts to the local economy, infrastructure, and public safety. The plan is anticipated to be complete in 2020.
Community Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
Prince George is taking actions to address changes in forests in both its municipal parks and the natural areas within and surrounding the city. A recent flood risk assessment incorporated future climate projections and recommended adjustments to account for climate change and the mountain pine beetle. There is ongoing research on how to better design and maintain roads in changing conditions.
Current projects include:
- Examining climate change and local sensitive ecosystems.
- Analysing freeze-thaw cycles and precipitation events.
Future projects may include:
- Exploring how the City can take advantage of the agricultural opportunities associated with a longer growing season
- Determining how to manage storm-water for changing conditions.
- Determining how to concurrently adapt to and mitigate climate change.
|Forests||Increased forest fires and insect outbreaks.|
|Flooding||Property damage with more frequent floods.|
|Transportation infrastructure||More potholes with increased freeze-thaw events.|
|Severe weather/Emergency response||Maintenance of transportation infrastructure during severe weather events.|
|Water supply||Water shortages as a result of drought.|
|Slope stability||Threat of erosion and landslides.|
|Stormwater||Threat of overflowing systems during storm events.|
|Building and utilities||Impacts of higher temperature on building materials and structural stability.|
|Health||Increased heat waves threatening vulnerable populations.|
|Agriculture||Increased agriculture opportunities in the region.|
|New residents and business||Population growth as a result of 'climate refugees' migrating north.|
For more information:
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Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Prince George
The Adaptation Strategy was incorporated into the Official Community Plan through funding provided by the Natural Resources Canada.
The funding also provided for research on local impacts and adaptation strategies.
The City is taking many actions to mitigate fire risk locally and prevent urban-wildland fires. Local staff are already considering the tree species that should be planted in parks to prepare for changes and to make the City more resilient to pest outbreaks.
In 2009, Prince George underwent a detailed flood risk analysis to help prepare for spring floods on the Fraser River and ice jam events along the Nechako. The City had climate change projections incorporated into the assessment and the final recommendation was to include an extra 0.6 m of freeboard allowance (i.e. vertical distance above the flood plain) to account for future changes related to climate change and the mountain pine beetle.
Prince George has partnered with experts from the University of Waterloo to investigate how to design and maintain roads to better prepare for climate change. Ongoing work includes an assessment of how climate change affects road safety, road conditions, and vehicle crashes.
Prince George initiated a sensitive ecosystems and Natural Areas Mapping project in 2010 and decided to incorporate an extra element investigating how climate change affects natural areas within the City. The exercise identifies areas that are sensitive to future changes and can help the City decide where to conserve natural spaces and where to develop.
Freeze-Thaw and Precipitation
The City hired consultants to look at how freeze-thaw cycles are changing and also how the intensity, duration, and frequency of precipitation events are shifting.
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Natural Areas Mapping
The City of Prince George is often referred to as the "City in the Forest" because of the abundance of trees and forested areas within and around the municipal boundary. These extensive forests and natural areas - including wetlands, riparian areas, grasslands, parks, and greenbelts - provide many benefits like recreation, aesthetic values, helping with air and water quality, and many important ecosystem and habitat functions.
It is important to understand natural areas in relation to long-term growth and development in order to make good decisions on land use. This is particularly crucial where "sensitive" or "rare" ecosystems are identified and where climate change may affect certain ecosystems more than others. Natural areas mapping helps with making informed choices on long term planning (e.g. Official Community Planning), watershed planning, wildfire hazard mitigation, neighbourhood planning and building strategies to address climate change.
The Natural Areas project was initiated in 2010 and was completed in four phases:
- Mapping natural areas using standardized Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) and Sensitive Ecosystem Mapping (SEI).
- Assessing climate change impacts on natural areas.
- Simplifying ecosystem mapping for general use and uploading to PGMap.
- Developing management strategies and best management practices.
For more information:
Several maps were created to indicate the impacts of climate change on sensitive ecosystems, soil moisture, and local trees species. For more information, contact:
Energy, Environment, and Sustainability Division
3990 18th Avenue
Prince George, BC V2N 4R8
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Climate change has a major impact on how long wildfire seasons last. Seasons extended in length by 19 per cent between 1979 and 2013. Hot, dry summers and earlier springs cause vegetation to grow and dry sooner over a longer period of time.
Climate change models project the mean annual temperature will increase by 3.7 degrees Celsius by the 2080s. This will result in more days where daily temperatures will exceed 30 degrees Celsius and lower precipitation in summer months, all of which are expected to increase wildfire risk.
Prince George's climate change adaption plans include mitigating forest fire risk within the city. The City recently adopted an updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan to make Prince George more resilient to wildfire threats.
For more information:
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