Informing BC Stakeholders

You are here

Publications Library

  • Authors: Murdock, T. Publication Date: Nov 2018

    Presentation for Getting Climate Ready – Adaptation Tools for Northwest Communities, in Terrace, BC on 29 November 2018.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Oct 2018

    This newsletter discusses the IPCC's Special Report on a global warming of 1.5 °C, the summer of 2018 in BC, supporting agriculture in the Fraser Valley, PCIC's new Seasonal Maps Portal, Columbia Basin Trust workshops and Dr. Jana Sillmann's visit. The newsletter also has a staff spotlight on Matthew Benstead, covers talks delivered by Drs. Jana Sillmann and Whitney Huang, the most recent PCIC Science Brief on Paris Accord emissions and temperature limits, as well as PCIC publications and staff changes.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Climate, 31, 19, 7771-7787, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0552.1 Authors: Mueller, B.L., N.P. Gillett, A. Monahan and F.W. Zwiers Publication Date: Sep 2018

    The paper presents results from a climate change detection and attribution study on the decline of Arctic sea ice extent in September for the 1953–2012 period. For this period three independently derived observational datasets and simulations from multiple climate models are available to attribute observed changes in the sea ice extent to known climate forcings. Here we direct our attention to the combined cooling effect from other anthropogenic forcing agents (mainly aerosols), which has potentially masked a fraction of greenhouse gas–induced Arctic sea ice decline. The presented detection and attribution framework consists of a regression model, namely, regularized optimal fingerprinting, where observations are regressed onto model-simulated climate response patterns (i.e., fingerprints). We show that fingerprints from greenhouse gas, natural, and other anthropogenic forcings are detected in the three observed records of Arctic sea ice extent. Beyond that, our findings indicate that for the 1953–2012 period roughly 23% of the greenhouse gas–induced negative sea ice trend has been offset by a weak positive sea ice trend attributable to other anthropogenic forcing. We show that our detection and attribution results remain robust in the presence of emerging nonstationary internal climate variability acting upon sea ice using a perfect model experiment and data from two large ensembles of climate simulations.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, doi: 10.1029/2017JF004578. Authors: Tsuruta, K., M.A. Hassan, S.D. Donner and Y. Alila Publication Date: Sep 2018

    Modeling sediment transport through large basins presents a challenging problem. The relation between water flux and sediment load is complex, and substantial erosion and transport can occur over small spatial and temporal scales. Analysis of large‐scale basins often relies on lumped empirical models that do not consider spatial or subannual variability. In this study, we adapt a small‐scale, mechanistic, distributed suspended sediment transport model for application to large basins. The model is integrated into the Terrestrial Hydrology Model with Biochemistry to make use of the Terrestrial Hydrology Model with Biochemistry's dynamic water routing. The coupled model is applied to the 230,000‐km2 Fraser River Basin in British Columbia, Canada, using climatic and hydrological inputs provided by a historical run of the Variable Infiltration Capacity model. Hourly simulations are aggregated into monthly and long‐term averages which are compared against observations. Simulated long‐term lake sedimentation values are within an order of magnitude of observations, and monthly load simulations have an average R2 of 0.70 across the five study stations with available data. Model results indicate that sediment loads from tributaries do not heavily influence dynamics along the main stem and suggest the importance of network connectivity. Sensitivity analysis indicates that models may benefit from characterizing bed load irrespective of its contribution to total sediment load. Historical simulations over the 1965–2004 period reveal important changes in sediment dynamics that could not be captured with a lumped model, including a decrease in basin sediment load interannual variability driven by changes in runoff and load variability within a key subbasin.

  • Source Publication: Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-018-4375-0. Authors: Teufel, B., L. Sushama, O. Huzly, G.T. Diro, D.I. Jeong, K. Winger, C. Garnaud, R. de Elia, F.W. Zwiers, J.R. Gyakum, D. Matthews and V.-T.-V. Nguyen Publication Date: Sep 2018

    Significant flood damage occurred near Montreal in May 2017, as flow from the upstream Ottawa River basin (ORB) reached its highest levels in over 50 years. Analysis of observations and experiments performed with the fifth generation Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5) show that much above average April precipitation over the ORB, a large fraction of which fell as rain on an existing snowpack, increased streamflow to near record-high levels. Subsequently, two heavy rainfall events affected the ORB in the first week of May, ultimately resulting in flooding. This heavy precipitation during April and May was linked to large-scale atmospheric features. Results from sensitivity experiments with CRCM5 suggest that the mass and distribution of the snowpack have a major influence on spring streamflow in the ORB. Furthermore, the importance of using an appropriate frozen soil parameterization when modelling spring streamflows in cold regions was confirmed. Event attribution using CRCM5 showed that events such as the heavy April 2017 precipitation accumulation over the ORB are between two and three times as likely to occur in the present-day climate as in the pre-industrial climate. This increase in the risk of heavy precipitation is linked to increased atmospheric moisture due to warmer temperatures in the present-day climate, a direct consequence of anthropogenic emissions, rather than changes in rain-generating mechanisms or circulation patterns. Warmer temperatures in the present-day climate also reduce early-spring snowpack in the ORB, offsetting the increase in rainfall and resulting in no discernible change to the likelihood of extreme surface runoff.

  • Source Publication: Earth's Future, 6, 5, 704-715, doi:10.1002/2018EF000813. Authors: Kharin, V.V., G.M. Flato, X. Zhang, N.P. Gillett, F.W. Zwiers and K. Anderson Publication Date: Sep 2018

    Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed to hold the “increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” Comparison of the costs and benefits for different warming limits requires an understanding of how risks vary between warming limits. As changes in risk are often associated with changes in exposure due to projected changes in local or regional climate extremes, we analyze differences in the risks of extreme daily temperatures and extreme daily precipitation amounts under different warming limits. We show that global warming of 2°C would result in substantially larger changes in the probabilities of the extreme events than global warming of 1.5°C. For example, over the global land area, the probability of a warm extreme that occurs once every 20 years on average in the current climate is projected to increase 130% and 340% at the 1.5°C and 2.0°C warming levels, respectively (median values). Moreover, the relative changes in probability are larger for rarer, more extreme events, implying that risk assessments need to carefully consider the extreme event thresholds at which vulnerabilities occur.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Aug 2018

    The 2015 Paris Climate Accord aims to limit global warming to at most 2°C and ideally 1.5°C relative to the preindustrial climate, to limit the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. In this Science Brief, we discuss greenhouse gas emissions budgets and pathways consistent with these warming limits.

    Three recent papers in Nature Climate Change examine different aspects of these budgets and pathways:

    Tokarska and Gillett (2018) use global climate model projections to calculate a new carbon budget for future emissions, relative to the 2006-2015 period, that is consistent with keeping warming to 1.5°C. They find a median remaining carbon budget of 208 billion tonnes from January 2016.

    Tanaka and O'Neill (2018) use an integrated assessment model to test whether the Paris temperature limits of 2°C and 1.5°C require zero greenhouse gas emissions, whether a zero net greenhouse emissions limit implies that the temperature limits will be met and what the effect of imposing both emissions and temperature limits are. Their results suggest that meeting the  temperature limits doesn't require reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero, that reducing emissions to zero doesn't necessarily result in keeping temperatures under the Paris temperature limits by the end of the century, and that the effect of imposing both temperature and emissions limits is that temperatures decline after meeting the initial temperature limit.

    Van Vuuren et al. also use an integrated assessment model, to develop alternative emissions scenarios that examine how the need for negative emissions may be reduced through implementing other strategies, such as making large-scale lifestyle changes, shifting to renewable energy and switching to more efficient technologies for the production of energy and materials. They find that these strategies can reduce to a small degree, but not eliminate, the need for negative emissions. They also find that these measures have co-benefits such as helping to meet other United Nations sustainability goals.

  • Source Publication: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18, 10133-10156, doi:10.5194/acp-18-10133-2018. Authors: Ji, D., S. Fang, C.L. Curry, H. Kashimura, S. Watanabe, J.N.S. Cole, A. Lenton, H. Muri, B. Kravitz and J.C. Moore Publication Date: Jul 2018

    We examine extreme temperature and precipitation under two potential geoengineering methods forming part of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). The solar dimming experiment G1 is designed to completely offset the global mean radiative forcing due to a CO2-quadrupling experiment (abrupt4 × CO2), while in GeoMIP experiment G4, the radiative forcing due to the representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5) scenario is partly offset by a simulated layer of aerosols in the stratosphere. Both G1 and G4 geoengineering simulations lead to lower minimum temperatures (TNn) at higher latitudes and on land, primarily through feedback effects involving high-latitude processes such as snow cover, sea ice and soil moisture. There is larger cooling of TNn and maximum temperatures (TXx) over land compared with oceans, and the land–sea cooling contrast is larger for TXx than TNn. Maximum 5-day precipitation (Rx5day) increases over subtropical oceans, whereas warm spells (WSDI) decrease markedly in the tropics, and the number of consecutive dry days (CDDs) decreases in most deserts. The precipitation during the tropical cyclone (hurricane) seasons becomes less intense, whilst the remainder of the year becomes wetter. Stratospheric aerosol injection is more effective than solar dimming in moderating extreme precipitation (and flooding). Despite the magnitude of the radiative forcing applied in G1 being ∼ 7.7 times larger than in G4 and despite differences in the aerosol chemistry and transport schemes amongst the models, the two types of geoengineering show similar spatial patterns in normalized differences in extreme temperatures changes. Large differences mainly occur at northern high latitudes, where stratospheric aerosol injection more effectively reduces TNn and TXx. While the pattern of normalized differences in extreme precipitation is more complex than that of extreme temperatures, generally stratospheric aerosol injection is more effective in reducing tropical Rx5day, while solar dimming is more effective over extra-tropical regions.

  • Authors: Anslow, F.S., S. Tam, J. Lussier Publication Date: Jun 2018

    Presented by Faron Anslow at the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s 52nd Congress.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: Jun 2018

    The June 2018 PCIC Update includes the following stories: New on the Data Portal from the Hydrologic Impacts Theme: Gridded Meteorological Datasets, Updated Guidance for the Engineering Community, Climate Data for the Northwest Territories and Yukon, Agricultural Data Network Analysis, Renewed Climate Related Monitoring Program Agreement, Regional Assessment for Northeastern BC, Fraser Valley Extremes, New Projects, Staff Profile on Stephen Sobie and the Pacific Climate Seminar Series, as well as staff changes and publications.

  • Source Publication: Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment</em>, <b>32</b>, 10, 2821–2836, doi:/10.1007/s00477-018-1564-7. Authors: Ouali, D. and A.J. Cannon Publication Date: May 2018

    Intensity–duration–frequency (IDF) curves of extreme rainfall are used extensively in infrastructure design and water resources management. In this study, a novel regional framework based on quantile regression (QR) is used to estimate rainfall IDF curves at ungauged locations. Unlike standard regional approaches, such as index-storm and at-site ordinary least-squares regression, which are dependent on parametric distributional assumptions, the non-parametric QR approach directly estimates rainfall quantiles as a function of physiographic characteristics. Linear and nonlinear methods are evaluated for both the regional delineation and IDF curve estimation steps. Specifically, delineation by canonical correlation analysis (CCA) and nonlinear CCA (NLCCA) is combined, in turn, with linear QR and nonlinear QR estimation in a regional modelling framework. An exhaustive comparative study is conducted between standard regional methods and the proposed QR framework at sites across Canada. Overall, the fully nonlinear QR framework, which uses NLCCA for delineation and nonlinear QR for estimation of IDF curves at ungauged sites, leads to the best results.

  • Source Publication: Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-018-4145-z. Authors: Wan, H., X. Zhang and F. Zwiers Publication Date: May 2018

    Canada has experienced some of the most rapid warming on Earth over the past few decades with a warming rate about twice that of the global mean temperature since 1948. Long-term warming is observed in Canada’s annual, winter and summer mean temperatures, and in the annual coldest and hottest daytime and nighttime temperatures. The causes of these changes are assessed by comparing observed changes with climate model simulated responses to anthropogenic and natural (solar and volcanic) external forcings. Most of the observed warming of 1.7 °C increase in annual mean temperature during 1948–2012 [90% confidence interval (1.1°, 2.2 °C)] can only be explained by external forcing on the climate system, with anthropogenic influence being the dominant factor. It is estimated that anthropogenic forcing has contributed 1.0 °C (0.6°, 1.5 °C) and natural external forcing has contributed 0.2 °C (0.1°, 0.3 °C) to the observed warming. Up to 0.5 °C of the observed warming trend may be associated with low frequency variability of the climate such as that represented by the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and North Atlantic oscillation (NAO). Overall, the influence of both anthropogenic and natural external forcing is clearly evident in Canada-wide mean and extreme temperatures, and can also be detected regionally over much of the country.

  • Source Publication: Comptes Rendus Geoscience, 350, 4, 41-153, Authors: Dayon G., J. Boé, É. Martin and J. Gailhard Publication Date: May 2018

    This study deals with the evolution of the hydrological cycle over France during the 21st century. A large multi-member, multi-scenario, and multi-model ensemble of climate projections is downscaled with a new statistical method to drive a physically-based hydrological model with recent improvements. For a business-as-usual scenario, annual precipitation changes generally remain small, except over southern France, where decreases close to 20% are projected. Annual streamflows roughly decrease by 10% (±20%) on the Seine, by 20% (±20%) on the Loire, by 20% (±15%) on the Rhone and by 40% (±15%) on the Garonne. Attenuation measures, as implied by the other scenarios analyzed, lead to less severe changes. However, even with a scenario generally compatible with a limitation of global warming to two degrees, some notable impacts may still occur, with for example a decrease in summer river flows close to 25% for the Garonne.

  • Source Publication: Climatic Change, 148, 1-2, 249-263, doi: 10.1007/s10584-018-2199-x Authors: Zhang, X., G. Li, A. Cannon, T. Murdock, S. Sobie, F.W. Zwiers, K. Anderson and B. Qian Publication Date: May 2018

    This study evaluates regional-scale projections of climate indices that are relevant to climate change impacts in Canada. We consider indices of relevance to different sectors including those that describe heat conditions for different crop types, temperature threshold exceedances relevant for human beings and ecological ecosystems such as the number of days temperatures are above certain thresholds, utility relevant indices that indicate levels of energy demand for cooling or heating, and indices that represent precipitation conditions. Results are based on an ensemble of high-resolution statistically downscaled climate change projections from 24 global climate models (GCMs) under the RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 emissions scenarios. The statistical downscaling approach includes a bias-correction procedure, resulting in more realistic indices than those computed from the original GCM data. We find that the level of projected changes in the indices scales well with the projected increase in the global mean temperature and is insensitive to the emission scenarios. At the global warming level about 2.1 °C above pre-industrial (corresponding to the multi-model ensemble mean for 2031–2050 under the RCP8.5 scenario), there is almost complete model agreement on the sign of projected changes in temperature indices for every region in Canada. This includes projected increases in extreme high temperatures and cooling demand, growing season length, and decrease in heating demand. Models project much larger changes in temperature indices at the higher 4.5 °C global warming level (corresponding to 2081–2100 under the RCP8.5 scenario). Models also project an increase in total precipitation, in the frequency and intensity of precipitation, and in extreme precipitation. Uncertainty is high in precipitation projections, with the result that models do not fully agree on the sign of changes in most regions even at the 4.5 °C global warming level.

  • Authors: The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium Publication Date: May 2018

    In this Science Brief we consider two aspects of climate change that are of direct interest to Canadians—the warming of the Canadian climate and changes in high water events that affect our coasts. Two articles recently published in the peer reviewed literature discuss the contribution of waves to coastal sea level rise and the roles of human and natural influences in Canada's warming climate.

    Publishing in Nature Climate Change, Melet et al. (2018) study the effect of atmospheric surges, tides and waves on total water level rise at the coast. Using a mixture of model output and observations from the 1993-2015 period, they find that the size of wave contributions from several processes varies regionally. These processes can strengthen, offset or, as is the case for locations on the west coast of North America, entirely dominate sea level rise due to thermal expansion and land ice melting. In their article in Climate Dynamics,

    Wan, Zhang and Zwiers (2018) examine the roles that human and natural influences have played in Canada's warming climate from 1948 to 2012, both nationally and regionally. Comparing observations to climate model simulations, they find that about 1.0°C of the 1.7°C warming that Canada experienced over that period can be attributed to anthropogenic influences, while natural external influences (the sun and volcanic eruptions) contributed only about 0.2°C. For the region comprised of British Columbia and Yukon, which has experienced a 1.6°C warming, they find that about 0.8°C is attributable to anthropogenic influences and about 0.2°C to natural influences. They also find that, in most cases, anthropogenic influences can be detected in changes to the annual hottest and coldest daytime and nighttime temperatures for Canada as a whole and at the regional level. Natural influences can generally only be detected in changes to the coldest winter nighttime and daytime temperatures, both nationally and regionally.

  • Authors: Wilson, T. and Eco-Logical Resolutions Publication Date: Apr 2018

    The Fraser Valley Climate Adaptive Drainage Management Forum project was initiated to generate and share the best available precipitation projections for the Fraser Valley; research collaborative climate adaptive drainage management strategies adopted in comparable settings; and host a Forum between producers, local government and agency staff, researchers and agricultural association representatives to deliberate preferred drainage management strategies to address local runoff and drainage challenges.

  • Source Publication: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, doi:10.5194/hess-2017-531 Authors: Curry, C.L. and F.W. Zwiers Publication Date: Apr 2018

    The Fraser River Basin (FRB) of British Columbia is one of the largest and most important watersheds in western North America, and home to a rich diversity of biological species and economic assets that depend implicitly upon its extensive riverine habitats. The hydrology of the FRB is dominated by snow accumulation and melt processes, leading to a prominent annual peak streamflow invariably occurring in May–July. Nevertheless, while annual peak daily streamflow (APF) during the spring freshet in the FRB is historically well correlated with basin-averaged, 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE), there are numerous occurrences of anomalously large APF in below- or near-normal SWE years, some of which have resulted in damaging floods in the region. An imperfect understanding of which other climatic factors contribute to these anomalously large APFs hinders robust projections of their magnitude and frequency. We employ the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) process-based hydrological model driven by gridded observations to investigate the key controlling factors of anomalous APF events in the FRB and four of its subbasins that contribute nearly 70 % of the annual flow at Fraser-Hope. The relative influence of a set of predictors characterizing the interannual variability of rainfall, snowfall, snowpack (characterized by the annual maximum value, SWEmax), soil moisture and temperature on simulated APF at Hope (the main outlet of the FRB) and at the subbasin outlets is examined within a regression framework. The influence of large-scale climate modes of variability (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation – ENSO) on APF magnitude is also assessed, and placed in context with these more localized controls. The results indicate that next to SWEmax (univariate Spearman correlation with APF of ρˆ = 0.64; 0.70 (observations; VIC simulation)), the snowmelt rate (ρˆ = 0.43 in VIC), the ENSO and PDO indices (ρˆ = −0.40; −0.41) and (ρˆ = −0.35; −0.38), respectively, and rate of warming subsequent to the date of SWEmax (ρˆ = 0.26; 0.38), are the most influential predictors of APF magnitude in the FRB and its subbasins. The identification of these controls on annual peak flows in the region may be of use in understanding seas

  • Authors: M. Ek, T. Murdock, S. Sobie, B. Cavka, B. Coughlin and R. Wells Publication Date: Apr 2018

    Since local weather and climate greatly affect the construction and performance of buildings, reliable meteorological
    data is essential when simulating building performance. It is well understood that climate change will affect future
    weather and there is a growing interest in generating future weather files to support climate resilient building design.
    Weather files that account for climate change have not been widely used for the lower mainland region of British
    Columbia. In this study, hourly weather files for future climate conditions in Vancouver are created for three time periods
    using a “morphing” methodology. Morphing uses results from global climate models to adjust observed weather data
    at a specific location. In this study, daily data from climate simulations for the RCP8.5 emission scenario have been
    used. The weather variables that have been adjusted are dry-bulb temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, cloud
    cover, wind speed and atmospheric pressure. The impact of climate change on the energy performance of a multi-unit
    residential building located on the University of BC campus is analyzed using the energy modelling software
    EnergyPlus. The simulation results indicate that the changing climate in Vancouver, following RCP8.5, would have a
    considerable effect on building energy performance and energy demand due to decrease in space heating and increase
    in cooling requirements.

  • Source Publication: Journal of Hydrometeorology, doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-17-0110.1 Authors: Ben Alaya, M.A., F.W. Zwiers and X. Zhang Publication Date: Apr 2018

    Probable maximum precipitation (PMP) is the key parameter used to estimate the probable maximum flood (PMF), both of which are important for dam safety and civil engineering purposes. The usual operational procedure for obtaining PMP values, which is based on a moisture maximization approach, produces a single PMP value without an estimate of its uncertainty. We therefore propose a probabilistic framework based on a bivariate extreme value distribution to aid in the interpretation of these PMP values. This 1) allows us to evaluate estimates from the operational procedure relative to an estimate of a plausible distribution of PMP values, 2) enables an evaluation of the uncertainty of these values, and 3) provides clarification of the impact of the assumption that a PMP event occurs under conditions of maximum moisture availability. Results based on a 50-yr Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis Regional Climate Model (CanRCM4) simulation over North America reveal that operational PMP estimates are highly uncertain and suggest that the assumption that PMP events have maximum moisture availability may not be valid. Specifically, in the climate simulated by CanRCM4, the operational approach applied to 50-yr data records produces a value that is similar to the value that is obtained in our approach when assuming complete dependence between extreme precipitation efficiency and extreme precipitable water. In contrast, our results suggest weaker than complete dependence. Estimates from the operational approach are 15% larger on average over North America than those obtained when accounting for the dependence between precipitation efficiency and precipitable water extremes realistically. A difference of this magnitude may have serious implications in engineering design.

  • Source Publication: Earth's Future, 6, doi: 10.1002/2018EF000813 Authors: Kharin, V.V., G.M. Flato, X. Zhang, N.P. Gillett, F.W. Zwiers and K. Anderson Publication Date: Apr 2018

    Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have agreed to hold the “increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” Comparison of the costs and benefits for different warming limits requires an understanding of how risks vary between warming limits. As changes in risk are often associated with changes in exposure due to projected changes in local or regional climate extremes, we analyze differences in the risks of extreme daily temperatures and extreme daily precipitation amounts under different warming limits. We show that global warming of 2°C would result in substantially larger changes in the probabilities of the extreme events than global warming of 1.5°C. For example, over the global land area, the probability of a warm extreme that occurs once every 20 years on average in the current climate is projected to increase 130% and 340% at the 1.5°C and 2.0°C warming levels, respectively (median values). Moreover, the relative changes in probability are larger for rarer, more extreme events, implying that risk assessments need to carefully consider the extreme event thresholds at which vulnerabilities occur.