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Wetter winters and drier summers in Cowichan as climate change intensifies, report concludes

CVRD releases first phase of climate change report
Expect dryer, warmer summers and wetter winters in the Cowichan Valley as climate change takes hold. (File photo)

The Cowichan Valley can expect warming temperatures year round as climate change takes hold, according to Kate Miller

Miller, manager of environmental services with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said climate change will also likely lead to wetter winters and dryer summers in the region.

Miller released information from the first stage of the CVRD’s climate projections for the region to North Cowichan’s council on Aug. 16.

“There are extremely complicated issues for local governments to deal with as climate change continues, and that’s why this data is very important to help drive their decision making,” she said.

“Stage one of our study, climate change projections for the region, is now complete and we’re sharing the results with you.”

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Miller said the climate-adaption process is focused on a risk-based approach to identify the highest areas of impact and begin to develop appropriate policies, upgrades to infrastructure and emergency management.

She said adaptation to a changing environment is a complex process and will involve a concerted effort on the part of many players in the community outside of the CVRD.

Among the report’s projections is that days of the year in which the temperatures exceed 25 C will increase from 23 currently to 78 by 2080 in the Valley, and the region’s growing season will increase from 237 days currently to approximately 337 days by 2080, making the growing season almost year-round for the first time.

“The implications of these changes will be financial and social, as well as environmental,” Miller said.

“It will have impacts in many far-ranging areas, including the area’s watersheds and groundwater sources, economic development and infrastructure.”

Miller said projections are that climate change will also see the biodiversity of local forests change over time; with species more compatible to the new climate conditions, like alder and pine, replacing more traditional species like cedar.