Reference Papers Edit

Local Adaptation to Climate Change Edit

A presentation by Philippe Crabbé, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa, Almonte, September 22 2007

In a nutshell Professor Crabbe suggested that the climate of South Eastern Ontario will evolve progressively to become similar to the current climate of Northern Virginia. This implies that:

  • Both winters and summers will become warmer, especially winters
  • Agriculture will benefit from higher temperatures and is already benefiting from longer growing seasons
  • Water levels will be lower (because of increased evaporation)
  • High water levels will occur earlier in the season
  • Water scarcity may occur locally but not regionally

In the end Professor Crabbe concluded that communities can shelter themselves from the most adverse impacts of climate change by:

  • Understanding that climate change and adaptation are culturally and socially contextualized (no one size fits all) by “individuals”
  • Building adaptive capacity through citizens’ participation in policy networks
  • Receiving and providing adequate climate change information
  • Taking stock of risk perceptions and institutional framing opportunities
  • Developing an adequate system of adaptive policies which are part and parcel of sustainable development, and
  • Protecting the most vulnerable

View the full presentation here.


by P. Crabbe and M. Robin, in Climatic Change (2006) 78: 103–133

The authors conclusions about the impacts of climate change in Eastern Ontario are are generally optimistic ... "a municipality in Canada has access to all available technological options for climate change adaptation. However, it may not know which technology is most appropriate for relevant climate infrastructure impacts and there is little available expertise on these issues. Municipalities in Ontario, as they are elsewhere in Canada, are cash-strapped because of the mismatch between their responsibilities and their revenues. Some critical institutions for adaptation to climate change are underfunded and under-utilized. This is the case for conservation authorities (CAs).

There seems to be a strong community spirit in Eastern Ontario, especially in the environmental area. Municipalities have access to reciprocal insurance, which, given the size and differentiated ecosystems of the province, are able to redistribute the climate risks. The ability of decision-makers to manage credible information in the area of climate change is unknown, The public’s perception of the source of the impacts of climate change and the significance of exposure to their local manifestations is likely to be poor; this seems to be confirmed by a recently conducted survey in Canada (Greenway, 2005, p. A10).

Lack of expertise as related to climate change and its impact on built infrastructure is also significant. No persistent drought is expected; agricultural productivity may actually increase for cash crops (corn, soybeans; see section 3). There is no reason to believe that local adaptive capacity to climate change would be lacking in Eastern Ontario. What is required now is to spread climate change awareness to the public at large and to translate this awareness into a climate adaptation strategy at the municipal and regional level.

Climate adaptation is likely to generate regional spillovers in terms of water quantity and quality management, which may not extend to the Province of Ontario as a whole, but may extend to portions of the Great-Lakes Basin, Eastern Ontario for example. Adaptation is more of the nature of a local public good than of a common property resource. Therefore, an institution like EOWRC, the Eastern Ontario Water Resources Committee, as a policy network on water-related infrastructure issues, should extend its scope to the whole Eastern Ontario region. Cooperation among local municipalities and CAs (conservation authorities) on a reciprocity basis is of the essence (Keohane et al., 1995). This is what the Ontario ‘Municipal Act 2001’ is supposed to encourage (see sub-section 2.3.1). However, unlike in international regimes, the Province remains a hierarchical authority, which may block or facilitate the process."

To view the full article, click here.


by Robert B. Stewart, Associate Director, Continental Geoscience Division, Geologic Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, 2003

The IPPC Third Assessment Report [Gitay et al, 2001] indicates that forest ecosystems in high latitude countries such as Canada will be severely affected by climate change. Over the next century, conditions suitable for boreal, temperate and deciduous ecosystems will migrate northward. In responding to current
climate projections, forest ecosystems in eastern Ontario are likely to shift from the current mixed boreal temperature deciduous mixture, to more temperate deciduous.

Climate change is also expected to affect many of the features contributing to the functioning of existing ecosystems. Growth and regeneration will be affected – for temperate and deciduous species it will increase while for boreal species it will decrease. As well, natural disturbances related to fire and insects are expected to increase significantly and play a considerable role in contributing to ecosystem changes. However, the timing, location, and rate of projected changes remain very uncertain. As well, the potential benefits of elevated CO2 and atmospheric pollution in terms of increasing growth and productivity and mitigating potential undesirable effects remains inconclusive.

In determining and evaluating the implications of climate change on forests and the forest sector, forest managers have many tools at their disposal that will enable them to adapt to and mitigate most of the unwanted impacts of climate. Many of the necessary actions to be taken to respond to climate change are already part of ongoing forest management. The action required now in preparing for pending climate change is deciding the degree of change in the forest that constitutes a problem, determining and testing possible solutions, and initiating monitoring programs to determine when intervention is required. The key is accepting that climate change is real, improving their tools, recognizing the problem, having a plan, and taking timely action. These will all contribute to reducing the risk and vulnerability to surprises or unforeseen climate changes and take advantage of potential opportunities.

Click here to view full report.

Climate Change and Ontario’s Vulnerable Communities - Workshop Report 2002 Edit

Climate change is a global issue, but much of the adaptation will occur at the community level. This C-CIARN Ontario workshop explored the critical impacts for communities in terms of:

Ecosystem Health
Threats From: Extreme weather events, Ice changes, Lower lake levels, Loss of wetlands, Cumulative impacts
Threats to: Biodiversity, Land Resources, Management Ability, Water quality and quantity, Air quality

Runoff and landslide impacts (flooding)
Water intake/control infrastructure (water quantity)
Deterioration of infrastructure (buildings, roads etc.)
Damage to Infrastructure (roofs, road, transmission towers etc.)
Reduced security of energy supply
Design specifications/margin of safety in building codes

Human Health
Vector borne diseases
Extreme weather – extreme heat and cold
Deteriorating Air quality
Deteriorating Water quality
Secondary impacts e.g. indoor molds, weather
related transportation accidents and fatalities
Collective/Cumulative impacts

Water Resources
Increased capacity demands on sewage/water control infrastructure
Pressures on source water resources
Change in pattern of supply (municipal management implications)
Social and economic impacts (e.g. tourism, recreation) Degraded water quality

Click here to view the full report.

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