Report released on climate change impacts on Alberta

EDMONTON – A new climate change report projects Alberta will generally see an earlier spring, increased precipitation, warmer temperatures, and an overall drier climate, which could eliminate nearly all of the boreal forest.

The report, done by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute for the Climate Change Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), examines different ways the changing climate is likely to affect Alberta’s ecosystems.

You can read the full report, “Alberta’s Natural Subregions under a Changing Climate”, here.

The projections outline a range of possible changes to the climate. At a minimum, the report suggests, temperatures in Alberta will likely increase by two degrees Celsius over the next hundred years.

“All available global climate change models predict this outcome,” states the news release.

Therefore, the report says, Alberta’s ecosystems are projected to shift northward.

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For example, it predicts the parkland landscape around Edmonton will start to resemble the grassland landscape around Calgary.

The report’s findings predict “key regions of the province will see different plants, tree species, animals and bird life as the province’s climate continues to change over time.” Based on author Dr. Richard Schneider’s projections, “the Foothills will see an increase in ecological diversity, while the average water level in wetlands will decline. In Alberta’s boreal forest pine and spruce may decline significantly as the region transitions to aspen forest and grassland in the next century.”

The higher predictions indicate temperature increases of up to 6.5 degrees Celsius. The report says that could result in the near-complete loss of boreal forest from northern Alberta.

“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,” explains Schneider.

“This is a significant report for the CCEMC,” said Eric Newell, CCEMC Chair. “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.”

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