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Adapting to climate change

Two geographers contribute to national report

Research

By Janet Harron

Memorial University geography professors Drs. Trevor Bell and Donald Forbes are lead authors of chapters in Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate, a Government of Canada report officially released on April 13 in Ottawa.

Dr. Bell at the Adaptation Conference in Ottawa
Dr. Bell at the Adaptation Conference in Ottawa

The report assesses how climate change is increasingly affecting Canada’s coastal regions and highlights the potential impacts on communities, economies and ecosystems.

“Adapting to climate change and strengthening the resilience of our communities to the impacts of climate change are vital to protecting the health and well-being of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. This newly released scientific report underscores the importance of being informed by the best science available to plan for climate resilience and adaptation which will be important elements of the pan-Canadian framework to address climate change,” said Jim Carr, minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada. who released the report at the Adaptation Canada conference.

It is critical that future development be undertaken with an understanding of the dynamic nature of the coast and changing coastal risks in the North.

The report uses case studies to demonstrate that adaption, through efficient and proactive planning, can help reduce the risk posed by a changing climate.

Dr. Forbes was a lead author on a report chapter called Dynamic Costs in a Changing Climate, which focused on the dynamic nature of Canada’s marine coast and the environmental drivers of coastal change in a changing climate. Dr. Bell was a lead author on a regional chapter, which focused specifically on coastal areas of Canada’s north and with a strong emphasis on communities and economies.

“Our chapter addresses the physical setting and processes that make communities and environments of the North Coast region particularly sensitive to changing climate, emphasizing sea-ice reduction, permafrost thaw and rising sea levels as key drivers of change,” said Dr. Bell. “A range of adaptation measures will be needed in most settings to address the complex array of changes. It is critical that future development be undertaken with an understanding of the dynamic nature of the coast and changing coastal risks in the North. Our report provides some examples of adaptation measures currently undertaken by communities and governments, but mainstreaming adaptation into ongoing policy initiatives and planning activities is a key action to help address the risks posed by climate change.”

Drs. Bell and Forbes were among over 60 authors from Canadian universities, federal departments, other levels of government, industry and professional organizations to develop this scientific assessment report. The report synthesizes over 1,300 scientific publications into a definitive and accessible resource on climate change sensitivity, risks, opportunities and adaptation along Canada’s marine coasts.

 


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