Alberta's climate will get warmer, drier, report says

Aug 29, 2013
The current distribution of Alberta's natural subregions, pictured here, is likely to change significantly as the subregions shift northward in response to climate change.

A new report from an institute at the University of Alberta paints the clearest picture yet of how climate change will reshape the province's landscape.

The report from the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) describes how Alberta's ecosystems are likely to respond to . In Alberta's Natural Subregions Under a Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future, U of A researcher Richard Schneider presents state-of-the-art climate projections for the province and a detailed analysis of how Alberta's ecosystems are likely to shift in response to climate change over the next century.

The projections show a range of possible changes to the climate. At a minimum, temperatures in Alberta are expected to increase by 2 C over the next hundred years; all available predict this outcome. In response, Alberta's ecosystems are projected to shift northward: for example, the parkland landscape around Edmonton will come to resemble the landscape around Calgary.

At the upper end, under a high global scenario, the climate models predict drier conditions and temperature increases of up to 6.5 C, which could result in the near-complete loss of the boreal forest from northern Alberta. The currently covers more than half of the province.

"This report provides state-of-the-art projections of ecosystem transitions for the province, at a level of detail previously unavailable," says Schneider. "We've essentially taken the existing snapshot of Alberta's ecosystems and created a movie to describe what is likely to change in those living systems as they respond to climate change."

Alberta's ecosystems are classified into six natural regions and 21 natural subregions. Because broad determine the distribution of these ecosystems—the grassland in the south and the in the north—they are likely to respond strongly to climate change. Schneider models the response of these regions to climate change based on their current climate associations and several projections of Alberta's future climate.

Understanding how Alberta's natural regions are likely to change in the future is directly relevant to land use planning initiatives, such as forest management, that are linked to the current extent and distribution of these regions. This report is intended to assist in informing decisions about natural resource and land use.

The report was produced as part of the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project led by ABMI, with collaborators from the U of A and the Miistakis Institute. The project receives its core funding from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation.

"This is a significant report for the CCEMC," said Eric Newell, chair of the corporation. "It improves our understanding of the implications of climate change for Alberta over time, and continued work will enhance the ability of industries like forestry that rely on Alberta's ecosystems to plan and prepare for the future."

Explore further: Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plants can change greenhouse gas emissions after warming

Aug 21, 2013

(Phys.org) —Different moorland plants, particularly heather and cotton grass, can strongly influence climate warming effects on greenhouse gas emissions, researchers from Lancaster University, The University ...

Projected U.S. water use likely to increase as climate warms

Jan 29, 2013

Despite increases in efficiency, water demand in the United States is likely to increase substantially in the future if climate continues to warm, new projections indicate. Brown et al. project future water use to 2090 based ...

Recommended for you

Rising anger as Nicaragua canal to break ground

6 hours ago

As a conscripted soldier during the Contra War of the 1980s, Esteban Ruiz used to flee from battles because he didn't want to have to kill anyone. But now, as the 47-year-old farmer prepares to fight for ...

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

Dec 20, 2014

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

New challenges for ocean acidification research

Dec 19, 2014

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mememine69
1.3 / 5 (14) Aug 29, 2013
As long as science refuses to say or agree that their own 28 year old climate crisis WILL happen and is "inevitable", YOU believers can't say it either. Deal?
A 28 year old "scientific" consensus of "maybe" a crisis proves it WON'T be a crisis. Deny that!
How close to unstoppable warming will science lead us before they end this costly debate to save the planet and finally agree it WILL happen not just could and might and likely and...... ?
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (14) Aug 29, 2013
And in other news, it was determined that Climate "Scientists" are in desperate need of a reality check and should get out more.
Claudius
1 / 5 (12) Aug 29, 2013
report says


Should read: "model says"
Neinsense99
2.5 / 5 (8) Aug 29, 2013
I see the pea-shooters-in-class brigade have made their predictable appearance bearing the usual 'pearls of wisdom'.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.