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Archive for the ‘Regional Climate Modelling’ Category

A Meeting of Minds – A Conversation with Roger Street (UKCIP)

The UKCIP Experience - Advancing Climate Adaptation - Roger Street, Technical Director, UKCIP

On Thursday November 24th, the Climate Consortium for Research, Action and Integration (CC-RAI) was pleased to host Roger Street, the Technical Director at the UK Climate Impacts Program (UKCIP) based at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

Roger Street, UKCIP Technical Director

Roger joined UKCIP in 2006 after working for over 30 years for the Canadian federal government, much of which focused on climate, and impacts and adaptation. Roger brought a wealth of experience to the discussion which stemmed from his leading role in the development of Canada’s first national assessment on climate change impacts, as well as an advisory role in the first US national assessment and most recently the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Participants discussing opportunities for advancing collaboration and climate change, David MacLeod, City of Toronto's Environment Office (centre)

In a room full of interested individuals from government and industry, Roger outlined the development of UKCIP as a boundary organization which works with the willing to advance climate adaptation in the UK and abroad. UKCIP is a leading figure in the world of climate adaptation and an example to not only governments, but also business in the development of climate adaptation measures. Following a brief presentation by Roger, Stewart Dutfield, CC-RAI Program and Communication Manager facilitated a conversation between Roger and other participants from various municipalities, businesses and NGOs. Over the course of more than two hours participants had the opportunity to directly engage in a discussion around climate adaptation and its relevance to municipalities, long-term planning, business continuity and overall sustainability.

A full house, public and private sector stakeholders engaged in a dilaogue around climate adaptation

Recognizing the challenges posed by a changing climate and a year characterized by a high number of extreme weather disasters the importance of climate adaptation is increasingly an issue of concern. Climate change will inherently have local implications to governments and businesses at all levels, but the global ramifications of climate impacts are increasingly understood to have a systemic implications. In that regard, Roger highlighted the importance of working collaboratively between jurisdictions, between sectors and across systems. As Toronto, as Ontario, and Canada as a whole considers it approach to adaptation a systemic, cross-sectoral approach will be essential to realizing the benefits of a collaborative approach.  CC-RAI as the acting secretariat of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) is working to support a pan-provincial, inter-institutional approach to climate research, modelling and services. As a member of the City of Toronto’s Environment Office and Civic Action’s WeatherWise partnership, CC-RAI looks forward to emulating some of UKCIP’s successes as a boundary organizing by supporting this important work in the area of climate adaptation.

Partnership will be key to advancing such collaborative work. CC-RAI would like to thank all the municipalities, private sector organizations and NGOs who took the time to contribute to this important dialogue. We would also like to thank the British High Commission, and Consul General for their support for this event. As one of the capstone events for the SSHRC Public Outreach Grant,  CC-RAI and Knowledge Mobilization would like to acknowledge our policy partners the Region of Peel, York Region, the Region of Durham, TRCA, ACER, and the City of Toronto’s Environment Office, not to mention the generous support provided by the Social Studies and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium Strategy

Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) Strategy

Since February of 2010, CC-RAI has been working with universities, as well as private and private sector organizations across the province to develop a pan-Ontario climate science, research and services initiative.  In October of 2010, an Ad Hoc Committee was formed to address the need for Ontario focused climate science services. Since then, the Committee has met at various universities across the province. Most recently we hosted a workshop at OCAD University focused on identifying climate research and service needs for stakeholders in Ontario. After months of consultation, CC-RAI is pleased to present the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) Strategy.

The Strategy outlines an approach to developing and enhancing capacity within Ontario to deliver cutting-edge climate research and modelling expertise to a wide array of end-users. Recognizing that not one organization or university has the capacity to provide the wide variety of information, data and expertise required – a collaborative approach to action took hold. The Strategy outlines an approach to mobilizing existing research around climate change in Ontario with an aim to strengthen opportunities for new research and scholarship.

If you are interested in learning more about the ORCCC please contact CC-RAI!

Climate Research and Services: A Dialogue with Stakeholders workshop report

Climate Change Research and Services - A Dialogue with Stakeholders workshop report

On Monday May 30, CCRAI and OCAD University hosted a one day workshop – “Climate Change: A Dialogue with Stakeholders” – in support of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC). The event was attended by over forty participants from the all levels of government, conservation authorities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations. Having had the opportunity to collate and synthesize the sizable amount of information and feedback we received on the day we are pleased to present the Dialogue with Stakeholders report.

CC-RAI would like to once again thank our participants from the academic, government and private sector. Many thanks to Jack McConnell (York University), Claude Duguay (University of Waterloo) and Dick Peltier (University of Toronto) for their presentations on regional climate modelling in Ontario. The presentations will be posted shortly.

We would also like to thank Peter Jones (Design with Dialogue), Nabil Harfoush (Manara), visual facilitator Particia Kambitsch, Ciara de Jong at the City of Toronto’s Environment Office, Carl Knipfel and Doreen Balabanoff from OCAD University as well as York University and TRCA.

CC-RAI Graduate Assistant Ana Leary: In Sao Paulo, Brazil working on climate change

Ana Leary at Jogando Pelo Meio Ambiente" or Playing for the Environment event. An initiative between two Brazillian soccer teams aimed at reducing their carbon footprint.

As a Brazilian-American, international relations and Third World poverty and development issues have always been personal research interests for me. This past semester I wrote an article on climate justice that was published in Entre Voc(ze)es, a York University Portuguese and Spanish literary magazine.  The piece discusses the human rights and social justice aspects of climate change.

Ana is working with the Chico Mendes recycling cooperative which also focuses on environmental education

As part of my Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies, I am interning at the Ecoar Institute for Citizenship in Sao Paulo, Brazil this summer. I will be working on environmental education, climate change and waste reduction projects with the non-governmental organization. For more information, check out:

Prior to this internship, I worked for CC-RAI. In the position, I provided logistical and secretarial support to the Ad Hoc Committe for Regional Climate Modelling and conducted a qualitative research study on end user climate information needs for the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC).

Check out Ana's Blog 'Letters to Mittens'

About the Graduate Assistant: Ana Leary is originally from Boston, MA. She completed her B.A. in Political Science and International Development Studies from McGill University in 2008. Last year she moved to Toronto to pursue her Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies at York University. Her current research focuses on climate change policy-making and climate justice both in Canada and Brazil. Following graduation, she plans to help develop effective and preventative climate policy, whether in her local community or at the global level.

Climate Change Research and Services: What information do stakeholders need?

On Monday May 30, CCRAI and OCAD University hosted a one day workshop – “Climate Change: A Dialogue with Stakeholders” – in support of the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC). The event was attended by over forty participants from the all levels of government, conservation authorities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations.

Climate Change: A Dialogue with Stakeholders

Today, municipalities, provincial ministries, public utilities, and private corporations lack access to consistent, high-quality information to guide necessary investments in climate change adaptation. To directly meet this gap, the Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC) was formed in 2011 to facilitate a new breed type of inter-disciplinary, cross-sector coordination that will empower key decision-makers to more efficiently and effectively assess and manage regional climate risk with more focused, reliable climate information.

The goal of the workshop was to facilitate a dialogue and build a sense of community among climate modelers, data analysts and practitioners; help private and public sector stakeholders identify their initial climate information and service needs from modelers; establish a basis for similar, future events to further define scientific needs by sector or problem area; and identify other stakeholders that need to be included in subsequent discussions.

Following presentations by climate modellers including Jack McConnell (York University),Claude Duguay (University of Waterloo) and Dick Peltier (University of Toronto) on the state of regional modeling science and its application, participants launched into an interactive dialogue focused on their identifying their concerns related to climate change and the development of effective adaptation strategies.

Climate Cafe - Identifying climate research needs

Over the course of  morning and afternoon sessions, climate modellers and research scientists were able to discuss climate change issues with architects and designers, city planners, representatives from municipalities, as well as the provincial and federal government. The platform for the discussion resulted in extremely engaging conversation, so much so that participants kept working through breaks in the program (despite the fact fresh coffee was on offer). Working with professional facilitators Peter Jones (Design with Dialogue) and Nabil Harfoush (Manara), with support from Ciara de Jong at the City of Toronto’s Environment Office, Carl Knipfel and Doreen Balabanoff from OCAD University. CC-RAI would also like to thank TRCA, York University and OCAD University for their support in organizing this event. 

Jack McConnell, Prof. of Atmospheric Science, York University

The discussion produced a volume of material focused on assessing end-user needs for climate change information and services. This multi-sectoral event highlighted the need for improved collaboration and dialogue between the various stakeholders tasked with addressing climate change in their respective organizations and sectors. We look forward to posting the synthesis of the discussion in the coming weeks.

A Regional Response to the Need for Climate Research and Services

Since February of 2010, CC-RAI has been working with universities, as well as private and private sector organizations across the province to develop a pan-Ontario climate science, research and services initiative.  In October of 2010, an Ad Hoc Committee was formed to address the need for Ontario focused climate science services. Since then, the Committee has met at various universities across the province.  At each meeting support for collaborative action and cooperation between various stakeholders has grown.

Dr. Gordan McBean, a Canadian climatologist, professor at the University of Western Ontario and Director of Policy at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction chaired the Ad Hoc Committee process and has actively supported the development of the new Ontario Region Climate Change Consortium (ORCCC).

Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium Q&A

The Consortium and its objectives have been defined through a collaborative and inclusive consensus-building process. The Consortium represents a made-in Ontario solution to provide decision makers in government and the private sector with the ‘climate intelligence’ they need to address the challenges of a changing climate now and into the future.

Through this process a strategy has been developed to identify Ontario’s need for climate services and research and its capacity to deliver them. In advance of the release of the ORCCC Strategy and for additional information, please take a look at the Consortium Q&A: Ontario Regional Climate Change Consortium: Building Necessary Capacity for Climate Services.

Where Does the Water Go?: Evapotranspiration in Toronto

When the Black Creek flood washed out Finch Ave. near York University on  August 25, 2005, alarm bells began to go off at the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).  One of the main roles of the TRCA is to manage floodplains within its jurisdiction, and to identify ways to reduce flood risk wherever possible. As that particular storm event traveled across Metropolitan Toronto it caused significant damage in several watersheds, in some cases narrowly averting disaster as numerous buried utility lines became exposed.

York University graduate student, Daphne So installing the rooftop evaporation monitoring station at Downsview Park as part of her MSc thesis research in the Geography Department.

For Glenn MacMillan, Senior Manager of Water and Energy Management at the TRCA, it became clear that the ability to forecast and avert incidents like the 2005 flood would involve both improved hydrological monitoring and modelling. The ongoing issue of urbanization had long been recognized as a major contributor to enhanced floods within the GTA. Paving natural surfaces prevents the soil from acting as a reservoir to effectively absorb rainfall and then gradually release it to streams. The water draining off buildings, parking lots and roadways rapidly finds its way into the storm sewer system connected to our streams. But MacMillan realized that there remained an important missing component in accounting for the magnitude of streamflow and this was the amount of water lost to the atmosphere in the form of evapotranspiration. He contacted Dr. Rick Bello, a climatologist in the Geography Department at York University who confirmed that in natural systems typically 60% of the water falling from the sky directly returns there in the form of evaporation. “Few people appreciate that all of the water that society generally has access to for drinking water, hydroelectric production and irrigation actually represents a minor component of precipitation. The proportion our ecosystems have access to for plant growth is even smaller, ” says Bello, who has been conducting research in hydro-meteorology for over 20 years.

The idea of setting up a long-term evaporation monitoring network in an urban environment was not a straightforward one. As Bello outlined, “To begin with, you can’t buy the technology to measure evaporation off the shelf. And secondly, the options out there include a large amount of data post processing which relegates the measurement of evaporation rates in the natural environment to the highly trained specialist. For this reason evaporation is not part of Environment Canada’s routine measurement network and is the primary reason why we do not have routine evaporation estimates in Canada except from a few specialized research sites.” MacMillan was able to interest The Region of Peel and Ministry of the Environment to supply funding to get the project started.

So Bello teamed up with undergraduate student Josh Arnett in York’s Geography Department and Derek Smith from the TRCA to develop a prototype measurement system in the climate research lab at York University. It combines a well established methodology called the Bowen Ratio Energy Balance approach with state of the art infrared gas analysis technology. The first station was established over a fallow field at the Kortright Conservation Area on Pine Valley Drive south of Major Mackenzie Drive. “We were extremely pleased how this system performed over the first summer despite the fact it had to be powered with solar photovoltaic panels. Equally as important was the fact that the data analysis was fairly straightforward which permitted evaporation rates to be generated within about a month of data collection. Josh Arnett did an excellent job on this project which enabled him to complete his BSc thesis in Environmental Science.”, added Bello.

Spurred on by their initial success, a second system was set-up over a built surface on the flat roof of a military hangar that was part of CFB Downsview. Finding a suitable urban site for comparison represented quite a challenge. Just about every parking lot within the GTA the researchers had targeted was either populated by automobiles five days of the week or too small. The gravel roof is two football fields wide and seven football field long and only accessible to researchers. MacMillan was instrumental in gaining the cooperation of the staff at Downsview Park to utilize the building for long-term monitoring.

The maintenance of the two stations was turned over to two Geography MSc candidates; Daphne So who is focusing on the interrelationship between water loss and CO2 uptake from the field at the Kortright Conservation Area and Shishir Handa who is testing some alternate technologies for measuring evaporation in the same environments.

York University graduate student Josh Arnett, setting up the prototype evaporation monitoring station at Kortright Conservation Area as part of his Environmental Science honors thesis in the Geography Department.

Subsequently, the first complete inter-comparison of evaporation rates from the two stations for the period April 1, 2010 to November 30 , 2010 has been completed. The research shows that over the spring to fall measurement period, only 29% of the rainfall at Kortright generated runoff compared to 81% for Downsview, providing an excellent example of the hydrological consequences of urban development.

“We’ve passed the first milestone”, says Bello. “This long-term monitoring network is unlike any other in Canada. Not only are we going to be able to address some issues about the pace of urban development and our vulnerability to floods but we will ultimately be able to anticipate the changes to urban hydrology resulting from climate change. The partnership with the TRCA is already providing dividends in specialized training of York undergraduate and graduate students.”

Wetlands generally have higher numbers of mosquito larvae than stormwater ponds but fewer WNV vector species.

WNV has been a seasonal epidemic in Toronto since 2001. Nine of the twelve species of mosquito that carry WNV – known as vectors – live in the Toronto region. Since West Nile virus was first discovered in Southern Ontario, wetlands and storm water management ponds have been suspected of providing breeding grounds for WNV-carrying mosquitoes. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (one of the founding partners of CC-RAI) being the largest land owner in the Toronto region started their monitoring activities in response to these concerns.

From 2005-2009, Krishnaraj and her team have carried out the monitoring of selected wetlands and stormwater management ponds that are located on TRCA properties to determine the types of mosquitoes that were breeding, their relative abundance, and the risk of human WNV exposure originating from one of these sites. This work has been conducted as part of TRCA’s broader Regional Watershed Monitoring Program.

What did the TRCA research reveal? Wetlands generally have higher numbers of mosquito larvae than stormwater ponds but fewer WNV vector species. The overall risk of WNV exposure from wetlands and stormwater ponds is relatively low and, large numbers of mosquitoes (larvae) does not necessarily mean a higher risk of contracting WNV.

In all years except for 2006, wetlands had fewer species of WNV carrying mosquitoes than non-vector mosquito species. Storm water management ponds had very high percentages of vector mosquitoes, but the absolute number was generally not high enough to be a risk to the community. On average, there were only one or two high risk sites per year out of all the wetlands and storm water management ponds monitored.

On November 22nd Thilaka Krishnaraj, an entomologist at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) gave a presentation on the outcomes of West Nile Virus (WNV) larval monitoring and surveillance activities in the Toronto region to a group of researchers and students from the Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems (LAMPS) at the LAMPS Weekly Interdisciplinary Workshop.

Dr. Huaiping Zhu, an associate professor and project leader at LAMPS welcomed the opportunity to share expertise and understanding on the relationship between ecology and epidemiology.

Both TRCA and LAMPS realize the importance of monitoring, modeling and the additional research that is needed in understanding the ways in which ecosystems and consequently, epidemiology may well be impacted by a changing climate.

Regional Climate Modelling Workshop Presentations: Great Lakes’ hydrodynamic models and atmospheric models

Professor Ram Yerubandi,  a research scientist for Environment Canada based at the Canada Centre for Inland Water, presented at CC-RAI’s Climate Science Workshop in February 2010.

Yerubandi’s presentation focuses on the linkages between the hydrodynamic modelling of the Great Lakes and atmospheric modelling.

Yerubandi highlights the importance of understanding the dynamic interplay between hydrodynamic systems and regional climate modelling.

His presentation explores the evolution of hydrodynamic modelling and their importance in accurately predicting changes to water quality and quantity in Ontario’s future.

Regional Climate Modelling Workshop Presentations: Perspectives on regional climate modelling in Ontario

At CC-RAI’s Climate Science Workshop held in March 2010, Professor Claude Duguay, founding director for the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3) presented on the State of the Art Perspectives on Regional Climate Modelling in Ontario.

Duguay’s presentation highlighted the importance of understanding the role the cryosphere (snow and ice) plays in the global climate system. IC³ is focused on understanding the physical basis of climate change, and its impacts in biophysical and human systems, and adaptation and mitigation in response to climate change.

IC³ is based at the University of Waterloo. Its goals are:

  1. To improve the understanding of feedback mechanisms and physical processes of the cryosphere with the Earth’s climate system.
  2. Improve the representation of cryospheric processes in models to reduce uncertainties in the simulation of climate and climate change predictions.
  3. Further the development of cryosphere datasets for the evaluation and improvement of climate models.
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