Backgrounder: Everything you want to know about climate change in three easy lessons


British Columbia is projected to experience more warming than the global average in the coming decades. This will affect regional water flow and supply, crop suitability and food security, pest distributions, urban and industrial planning due to sea level rise, and will increase the frequency of extreme weather events.

BC Climate Impacts & Adaptation is a new free course offered in the PICS Climate Insights 101 series that will help decision-makers and communities anticipate and prepare for those changes. It’s especially useful for those involved in land use planning, community health, agriculture, forestry management and wildfire prevention, natural environment protection, energy planning, and future infrastructural security for facilities such as dikes, sewage treatment and storm water systems.

The course contains four lessons. See some highlights below.

Lesson 1 - The Climate of British Columbia

  • Find out about natural climate variation in BC due to influences such as El Niño, La Niña, and Pacific Decadal Oscillation and solar variation, as well as regional topography.
  • See how baseline data reveal BC’s climate has already been changing.
  • Find out why past climate is no longer a reliable guide to the future, and why human-caused greenhouse gases are accelerating climate change.

Lesson 2 - Projected Climate Change in British Columbia

  • Learn what BC will look like when modeled under a range of future emissions scenarios, and why we need to generate several scenarios in the first place.
  • Find out why BC will heat up faster than the global average.
  • See how “downscaling’ downscaling” reveals climate change at smaller and smaller scales.
  • Try out the Plan2Adapt tool developed by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) that puts data in the hands of planners by “zooming in” to examine climate impacts in your own BC backyard.

Lesson 3 - Climate Impacts in British Columbia

  • The Peace, Upper Columbia and Campbell River watersheds will receive more precipitation in winter and less in summer by 2050—yet the resulting snowpack and timing of stream flow will differ locally.
  • Managing water resources will become critical given that changing hydrology patterns will impact power generation, community water supplies, agriculture and industry for each watershed.
  • BC’s $20-million a year shellfish industry is under threat from ocean acidification. Learn more about that, as well as new pests facing the region’s forests and new opportunities for agriculture.

Lesson 4 - Adaptation

  • Metro Vancouver and Victoria’s Capital Regional District can both expect an annual average increase in warming of about one-to-2.5 degrees Celsius by the 2050s, plus an increase in winter precipitation of some 15 per cent—yet face differing impacts in terms of water supply.
  • Parts of BC will be warm enough to support crops that today can only grow in the Okanagan and Fraser valleys. Farmers may need to consider new crops, or change management regimes.
  • BC must plan for a one-metre sea level rise by the end of the century in coastal communities. But it may end up being even higher depending on future emissions. How can we plan for lasting infrastructure?
  • See case studies of different adaptation approaches for Delta and Prince George.
  • Try out the step-by-step-guide for adaptation planning processes yourself!

Media contacts

Robyn Meyer (PICS Senior Communications Officer) at 250-588-4053 or

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Keywords: climate change, Pacific Institute for Climate Solution, education

People: Tom Pedersen

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