Climate Change

On June 2, 2006 SEAS participated in a focus group hosted by the Climate Change Adaptation Project, an initiative of the Living by Water Project ( ). Read the summary recommendations that highlight adaptation measures needed for the Shuswap, see:

Climate Change Adaptation

On May 23, 2006, the Chief Forester has released a report, Preparing for Climate Change: Adapting to Impacts on British Columbia’s Forest and Range Resources, for public review and comment.


In December 2005, the Ministry of Forest and Lands hosted a conference and workshop in Prince George called The Future Forest Ecosystems of BC : Exploring the Opportunities. See the workshop report, Climate change and forestry.

On April 27, 2005, SEAS hosted a forum entitled, Climate Change and Forests : What does the future hold? that featured some of the key speakers from the Revelstoke workshop. See the media coverage of this event, Climate Issues Heating Up.

In April 2005, the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology in Revelstoke hosted the workshop called Implications of Climate Change in British Columbia’s Southern Interior Forests. Their website, has a summary available (look under past events). Also see the workshop report, Forests & CC Workshop Report.

The Shuswap is still recovering from the disastrous fires that occurred in the summer of 2003. As a result of these fires, SEAS prepared the following information about the correlation between fires and climate changes (see Firestorm 2003 – Climate change is a burning issue and Is Climate Change Burning up British Columbia?

SEAS began dealing with climate change issues in 2003, when we hosted the Climate Change Education Project. This one-day event featured a talk by Guy Dauncy, the author of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, 2001). Copies of this book were purchased for local libraries.

Guy Dauncy has since formed the BC Sustainable Energy Association (, a non-profit association of citizens, professionals and practitioners committed to promoting the understanding, development and adoption of sustainable energy, energy efficiency and conservation in British Columbia.

What Happened to our Shuswap Winter?

What Happened to our Shuswap Winter?
By Jim Cooperman
A Shuswap Passion column for the Shuswap Market News
February 5, 2010

As one of our friends remarked a few weeks ago, so far this has been ‘quite the non-winter.’ Although it is not over yet, the record breaking warm temperatures and lack of snow may be a blessing for snow plowing budgets and safe winter driving, but the impacts from warm winters may indeed cause far worse problems than icy roads.

With melting arctic ice and glaciers and warming temperatures, industry sponsored climate change sceptics have changed their tune and now many agree that the planet is warming, but insist that the causes are due to sun-spots or earth wobbles instead of the obvious fact that humans are responsible. Here in the Shuswap, it is obvious that our climate is going haywire.

January is typically the coldest month of the year, and yet this January there was mostly above freezing temperatures with little snow. Like other gardeners, we are concerned about what the lack of snow cover could mean for sensitive perennials and bulbs, including garlic. Snow provides an insulating layer and without it, the frost can kill or severely damage roses, rhododendrons, tulips and other plants.

These problems are not limited to just gardening, as farmers are concerned about the potential for hard frost killing their alfalfa if temperatures fall to minus 10 for a few days without the protection of snow cover. Problems are already occurring where the melting snow is unable to drain through the frozen ground and has pooled in the fields killing the roots of grass and alfalfa. Impacts could also include the time, work and high costs of replanting low elevation hay fields, as well as the expense of buying imported alfalfa and grain in the interim.

The buds on trees and bushes can also be affected by unseasonably warm winter temperatures by opening prematurely and then getting hit by frost. So far, orchardists have not noticed any problems, as nights have remained cool. However, if the current El Nino warming continues, this could result in damage to orchards throughout our region if a hard frost follows more intensive warming.

Perhaps the greatest impacts could take place this coming spring and summer, if the Shuswap snowpack remains low. Adequate soil moisture levels are critically important not only for agriculture, but also for the forests. Lack of moisture, especially in the spring, weakens the trees when moisture is needed for growth and makes the trees more susceptible to pests and disease. Young plantations are particularly sensitive to the combination of unseasonably warm winters and lack of moisture from snow.

Of greatest concern, is the threat of forest fires, when there is a lack of snow to maintain soil moisture. And without adequate snow at mid-elevations, the creeks may not have enough water to flow during the summer. Throughout the Shuswap, thousands of rural residents depend on these creeks for their domestic and farm water supplies. Unless there are substantial snow falls in February and March, these creeks could run dry long before the summer is over.

While it is important to keep up the pressure on politicians and decision-makers around the world to take actions to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, it is also necessary to consider and implement climate change adaptation measures. With climate change, there will be more extreme weather patterns that could mean an increase in drier than normal and wetter than normal years. Consequently, any industry or activity that is weather dependent now requires options or alternatives. As well, land and resource management should reflect the need to be prepared for the extremes.

Adaptation measures for the Shuswap could include better fire-proofing around communities, drilling wells and adding more water storage, protecting higher elevation lakes for their water storage potentials, considering different crops for agriculture, devising better road maintenance techniques to cope with more frost heaves and extreme rain events, and avoiding development in flood plains. This year’ green lawns in January could well be a harbinger for a very different future climate, for which some foresight is needed.