Climate Projections for the Okanagan Region
Climate change is challenging our ecosystems, communities, and our economy. Wildfires, flooding, and drought have already challenged local infrastructure, caused economic losses, and posed health risks to communities. This is why the Regional Districts of the North Okanagan, Central Okanaganand Okanagan-Similkameen have partnered with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Pinna Sustainability and developed a Climate Projections report for the region.
This report is intended to support a local understanding of how our climate is projected to change and inform regional planning on how to prepare for future climate events. In particular, climate projections for both the 2050s and the 2080s have been identified. Findings indicate that the Okanagan can expect significant changes to climate in the coming decades, including:
- Warmer temperatures year-round;
- Summers will be considerably hotter;
- Increased duration of growing season;
- Warmer winter temperatures;
- Increased precipitation across all seasons except summer;
- Summer is expected to remain the driest season, and become drier; and
- We can expect shifting seasons. Future Januarys will feel like the Marchs of today
Please find a link to the full report here: Climate Projections for the Okanagan Region - Feb. 2020
The development of the Climate Projections Report was a technical exercise relying on highly sophisticated models to simulate how the earth’s climate will respond to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. The Climate Projections Report is based on a subset of climate models selected to provide the widest range of projected change for a set of climate parameters. Information from the large-scale global climate models is then translated into predictions at the local scale using a procedure called downscaling. The model projections are downscaled for daily temperature and precipitation observations and future projections are provided at an 800m grid, providing high-resolution maps. It is this scale of mapping that enables local governments to assess potential impacts on a geospatial scale.
As noted in the Projections Report:
"The climate is changing, and warmer temperatures, stronger storms, and less summer rain will be a growing reality across the region. With these changes, the impacts, including flooding, drought, and more intense wildfires, are expected to become more severe over time.
The time for climate action is now. Sharing this information with a wide range of audiences, including the public, stakeholders, and decision makers will set the foundation for action. As a region, preparing for change involves considering the impacts that future climate will have on the region when making infrastructure, business, and ecosystem management decisions; ensuring that the investments made today will be durable; and being able to provide essential services over time."
The Climate Projections Report for the Okanagan Region is intended to:
- Provide a plain language description of how the Okanagan Basin’s climate is projected to change over time.
- Enable organizations to include future climate in planning processes throughout the region.
- Highlight changes of particular concern that will require significant collaboration to address.
- Support public and stakeholder education and climate-informed decision making
- Improve regional resilience to climate change.