Climate Change in the Niagara Region

Blog Contributor: Mikellena Nettos

From increased weather events to melting polar regions, climate change impacts everyone (IPCC, 2019). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2019) increases in global mean temperatures of less than 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above 1990 levels will cause drastic environmental changes, including benefits in certain areas and detriments in others. 

When it comes to Canada, we can see a significant shift in the northern regions, with melting permafrost, changing biodiversity, completely altering ways of life for Indigenous Canadians (IPCC, 2019). In the southern regions, there will be more extreme heat events, especially in cities (CCCS, 2021). This will create a longer growing season and will cause a shift in what farmers decide to grow as winters will be short and wet, which will also leave less room for trees to rest between growing seasons (IPCC, 2019). This resting period is important for a tree’s metabolism to slow down, allowing for energy conservation to keep the tree alive in the cold winter months (Let’s Talk Science, 2020). 

The region of Niagara will be impacted significantly as our economic growth is based on agriculture and tourism (The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines, 2014). The icewine industry will likely face unprecedented challenges with winter temperatures on the rise, decreasing economic value in certain areas (CCCS, 2021). In addition to this, there will be increased heat events that can cause heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can potentially overwhelm hospitals, especially after what we have seen with COVID-19 (CCCS, 2021). 

The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre is currently wrapping up a project with seven regional municipalities in Niagara who came together to collaborate on climate change adaptation through a partnership called Niagara Adapts. By working together, these municipal partners are discovering new ways to develop and  implement innovative solutions to combat flood events, windstorms, and heat waves in our region. According to a research survey produced through this partnership, approximately 55% of respondents have experienced community flooding and extreme heat – displaying the increased risk that residents here in the region already face. 

As an individual, learning more about climate change in your region and advocating to municipal councils is a great way to promote climate adaptation within your community. Together we can become more resilient and adapt to this crisis we all face! 

References 

Canadian Centre for Climate Services of Environment and Climate Change Canada. (2018– 2021). Climate Data Canada [Climate Data by Geographic Location in Canada]. https://climatedata.ca/ 

City of Barrie. (2017). Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. https://www.barrie.ca/Living/Environment/Conservation/Documents/Barrie-Climate- Change-Adaptation-Strategy.pdf 

ICLEI. (2019, July). CHANGING CLIMATE, CHANGING COMMUNITIES: 

Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation. https://icleicanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Guide.pdf 

IPCC (2019). Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.-O. Pörtner, D. C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)]. In press. 

Let’s Talk Science. (2020, March 16). How Do Trees Survive in Winter? https://letstalkscience.ca/educational-resources/stem-in-context/how-do-trees-survive-in-winter 

The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines. (2014). About Our City. St. Catharines. https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/experiencein/AboutOurCity.asp?_mid_=26335