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Executive Council
June 13, 2013

Provincial Government Releases Climate Change Projections

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to better understand how climate change will impact communities across the province. A detailed climate projections study encompassing the next 50 years was released today providing a comprehensive set of local climate forecasts to industries, businesses, municipal governments, communities, and non-governmental organizations to help improve future planning.

“The projections help us see what our climate will look like over the next half century,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Environment and Conservation and Minister Responsible for the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading. “This vital information improves decision-making by all levels of government, businesses and organizations when dealing with and planning for changing weather patterns.”

The climate projections study, completed by Dr. Joel Finnis, a nationally-recognized climatologist at Memorial University’s Department of Geography, used temperature and precipitation data from 12 weather stations in Newfoundland and six in Labrador, then applied them to regional models to develop provincial climate projections. The study and findings deliver on commitments in the 2011 Climate Change Action Plan to improve the ability to adapt and respond to climate change.

The study found temperatures will continue to get warmer and the province will see an increase in precipitation and extreme weather events over the next 20 to 50 years.

“These findings will be a useful resource that will assist decision makers to improve their planning,” said Dr. Joel Finnis, author of the report. “I commend the Provincial Government for taking this proactive step to incorporate climate change projections to improve planning.”

Further information regarding the report and summary presentation can be found in the backgrounder below or on line at www.turnbackthetide.ca/whatsnew.

“This important work will result in informed infrastructure decisions for transportation officials and municipal planners as well as improved planning processes for the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism industries,” said Minister Hedderson. “These changes have implications for every community and all sectors of our economy, allowing risk assessment and long-term economic development planning to take place with this in mind.”

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Media contacts:

Deborah Thomas
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 728-8092
Dr. Joel Finnis
Department of Geography
Memorial University of Newfoundland
709- 864-8987


Projected Impacts of Climate Change

In the 2011 Climate Change Action Plan, the Provincial Government recognized that climate change is one of the most pressing long-term challenges facing Newfoundland and Labrador. As such, one of the four overarching goals of the Action Plan was to enhance the province’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Governments, industry and community stakeholders are increasingly seeking more detailed long-term climate change projections to better understand future weather patterns, and then incorporating that information into design and decision-making processes to reduce risk and improve resilience.

This comprehensive study, which was completed by Dr. Joel Finnis, a nationally-recognized climatologist at Memorial University’s Department of Geography, meets these needs. Dr. Finnis completed seven simulations using four regional climate models to develop the projections.

Using data from 12 weather stations in Newfoundland and six in Labrador, the study first examined temperature and precipitation change in the province. The study found that temperature is expected to increase by between two and four degrees celsius by mid-century in all regions of the province, the number of frost days will decline (a proxy for winter length) and that precipitation will increase.

The study also examined extreme weather events. It found that precipitation amounts during extreme events are expected to increase by at least 10 per cent at most locations. It also found that what is now a 1-in-100 year storm today is expected to become a 1-in-50 or 1-in-25 year storm by mid-century, and that 1-in-25 year storm today is likely to become a 1-in-5 year storm by mid-century.

These projections will be of benefit to governments, businesses, organizations and individuals making long-term planning decisions, helping improve our province’s ability to adapt to climate change by taking advantage of opportunities and reducing risks.

All study materials, including a user-friendly summary presentation of findings, frequently asked questions, site-specific data and the full technical report are available at www.TurnBackTheTide.ca. The maps and graphics are available on government’s Water Resources Portal at maps.gov.nl.ca/water/ 

2013 06 13                                10:35 a.m.

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