5A.2 Tools for integrating climate change and community disaster risk management in Canada

Tuesday, 19 July 2011: 1:45 PM
Salon A (Asheville Renaissance)
A. Chynoweth, EC, Toronto, ON, Canada; and B. May, A. Fenech, J. I. MacLellan, N. Comer, and D. MacIver
Manuscript (557.4 kB)

As communities integrate planned adaptation strategies to climate change into their ongoing operational decision-making, researchers must provide a tangible service to decision-makers, by developing integrated tools that use valuable historical climate data and scenarios. In a Canadian context, the Adaptation and Impacts Research Section of Environment Canada has developed online information that aids users in planning for and prioritizing atmospheric risks associated with climate change. These sources provide access to historical climate data, and enable the ensembles of all global and regional climate models to project future risks. For example, the Canadian Atmospheric Hazards Network (CAHN) was created as a response to the needs of the disaster management community. This tool provides web-based information on atmospheric hazards that is presented through maps, graphics, datasets and climatology (www.hazards.ca). The Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network (CCCSN) has become an essential validator of global models and allows decision-makers to visualize climate change scenarios using customized maps and graphs, including bioclimate profiles (www.cccsn.ca). In addition, a technique for integrating historical and scenario data, the Rapid Assessment to the Impacts of Climate Change (RAICC) has been developed using a structured approach to provide decision-makers with key relative risk index information. This information is important for communities and other agencies responsible for the conversion and prioritizing of hazards into risks under the changing climates of Canada.

In this study, the three tools identified above are applied to the Niagara Region of southwestern, Ontario, Canada for community disaster management planning. In a further extension of the RAICC methodology, this tool demonstrates the usefulness of contextualizing the potential impacts of climate change due to changes in extreme weather events as part of Province-wide legislated planning for municipalities. Community risk rankings for two locations, one urban and one rural, are used as a starting point. By applying information supplied by the Canadian Atmospheric Hazards Network and the Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network, future extremes are able to target specific municipalities, and ultimately, through an assessment of the relative risks associated with the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events, present a clear understanding and ranking of priority risk areas for decision-makers and emergency managers.

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