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DEC-00146-Environment Binder Cover.indd - Atlantic Climate ...

DEC-00146-Environment Binder Cover.indd - Atlantic Climate ...

IntroductionClimate change is one of the most serious challenges facing governmentand community leaders today. Many communities across Canada are alreadyexperiencing the impacts of climate change. It is critical to examine how climatechange will affect your community and to prepare for more variable weatherpatterns. In the past, communities were planned with the assumption thatbasic weather and climate patterns would remain the same over time. Today, theclimate is much less predictable and communities need to prepare for uncertaintyand extremes.Outlined in this workbook is a seven-step process to help you examine yourcommunity’s vulnerability to climate change. The issues examined are coastalvulnerability, flooding, slope movement, drinking water supply, wildfires, and winterconditions. This workbook is one of many tools that your community can use toprepare for climate change and other weather related hazards.Getting Started - Explaining Weather and ClimateWeather is the current condition of the atmosphere which can change overminutes, days or months. Climate is the pattern or cycle of weather conditionssuch as temperature and precipitation measured over a period of 30 years or more.Aspects of climate include temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction,sunshine, fog and the frequency and intensity of extreme events. Climate may affectyour community in a variety of ways depending upon local geography and otherfeatures of your community. This guide will help you plan for the immediate andlong-term impacts of climate change which may include slow, on-going processessuch as sea level rise, or sudden events such as storm surges or wildfires.Climate is the longterm condition ofthe atmospheresuch as temperatureand precipitationtrends. Weather isthe condition of theatmosphere over ashort time period.Strong winds can cause severeproperty damage. This house inFrancois, NL was split in half andblown down a hill during tropicalstorm Florence in 2006. In thefuture, there may be more frequentand more extreme storm events.Photo credit: Vickie ThorneIntroductionI

Photo credit: Environment CanadaThis photo shows ice accumulationin Bonavista, NL. Under projectedclimate changes, winters maybecome more variable with a greatermixture of snow, ice and rain.Trends and VariabilityIt is widely accepted that our climate is warming and becoming more variable. Thegradual increase in average global temperatures over a long period of time is aclimate trend. Climate variability refers to the occurrence of highs and lows thatare above or below the average state of the climate. Examples of variability includeextreme events such as heavy rainfall, strong winds or extreme temperatures.Another example would be unusual temperatures or wide fluctuations intemperature within a single season. In the short term, changes in the variability ofthe climate may have a bigger impact on communities than a change in the longterm climate trend. The consequences of this for local communities include seasonsthat are less predictable and weather that is more erratic.Communities can prepare for the future by considering climate change in theirplanning and development processes. For example, increased variability may meanthat winter temperatures shift from below freezing to above freezing more often.This could result in a greater number of freeze/thaw/refreeze events, more freezingrain events, and an increase in ice-related driving hazards. Communities may needto change their road clearing strategies to deal with a wider range of road conditionsduring the winter months.What this Workbook Will DoThis workbook will help you plan for climate and weather related issues that affectyour community and assist you with developing strategies to deal with thoseissues. The focus is on climate change adaptation, which involves anticipatingand planning for climate change. Mitigation, lowering emissions and working toreduce future climate change, is also important but is not the focus of this guide.For further information on mitigation, please see the resource guide at the back ofthis workbook.How this Workbook Can HelpThe process outlined in this workbook will:• Raise your awareness of climate change and weather-related issues;• Help you identify the types of issues related to climate change and water resourcesthat are impacting your community;• Outline how the climate might change in the future and impact your community;• Help you prepare for these impacts;• Provide guidance on community-level decision making, zoning and permitting,infrastructure investments and community development; and• Provide information that you can use in existing planning efforts such asemergency plans, land use plans and economic development plans.II7 Steps to Assess Climate Change Vulnerability in Your Community

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