Nova Scotia faces an increased risk of flooding, wildfires and intense heat that kills crops due to climate change, according to a risk assessment released by the province Monday.
The report predicts a warmer, wetter Nova Scotia this century with more intense storms, rising sea levels, and coastal and inland flooding.
“Climate change is impacting the health and well-being of our province,” said Alex Cadel, climate scientist with the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Climate Change.
“We really need buy-in from everyone across the province to help us understand what this means to them and what we’re ultimately going to do about it.”
The assessment uses high carbon emissions scenarios because that is the path the world is on.
By mid-century, the report predicts Nova Scotia will experience daytime temperatures above 29°C for two weeks a year, up from just two days in the 1990s.
Warmer temperatures, more rain and less snow
Nighttime temperatures above 18C will increase from two nights a year in the 1990s to 17 nights above 18C by mid-century.
Rainy days will drop from 112 per year in the 1990s to 124 by mid-century and 132 by the 2080s.
The report indicates that fewer snow days should be expected each year. Dropped from 39 in the 1990s to 25 by mid-century and 17 in the 2080s.
Warmer temperatures will extend growing seasons and reduce heating demand, but also bring potential for drought, flooding and insect infestation, the assessment predicts.
Peak winds will increase by seven kilometers per hour by the end of the century.
Sea levels will rise by one meter by the end of the century and another 70cm if the Antarctic ice sheets continue to melt.
The ocean will become more acidic with less oxygen.
By the 2050s, sea surface temperatures are expected to rise by almost three degrees.
For the first time, the report attempts to track when the various major climate hazards will appear over three 30-year periods in this century: the 2030s or near-term (2015-2045), the 2050s or mid-term of the century (2035-2065) and the 2080s or end of the century (2065-2095).
“A lot of these flood risks are kind of a short-term concern. Not surprisingly, we just had another hurricane,” Cadel said.
The report predicts that flooding will be the main concern in the 2030s.
In the middle of the century, forest fires pose the greatest threat.
By the 2080s, extreme temperatures that could disrupt food production, human health, infrastructure and ecosystems are expected to pose the greatest threat.
Good first step, says environmental group
The assessment was released Wednesday ahead of the provincial government’s climate change plan.
A Halifax-based environmental group says the assessment is a good first step.
“What’s most important is the fact that we’re integrating all of this data that we’re able to get into one document, which will then be used to influence and inform the next climate plan,” said Will Balser. , a specialist in coastal adaptation. coordinator with the Center for Ecological Action.
“We’re already past the point of pushing it on the road. We’re already feeling the effects of that. And so I think going forward we just have to be very clear about what we value the most and what we’re prepare to protect.”
The report says vulnerable populations are at higher risk, including older adults and people who identify as Indigenous or Black.
“We are all exposed to the same dangers, but we have resources to respond to those risks: our social networks, our financial resources, our access to information,” Cadel said.
“We know that these are already not equal and that climate change is only making these existing constraints more difficult. We know that as hazards potentially occur more frequently, it will be more difficult for sectors or households low income to prepare for this and to respond appropriately.”
The report suggests obvious measures such as avoiding building in flood-prone areas or too close to the coast, or changing the working hours of outdoor workers to avoid the hottest hours of the day during heat waves.
He says more research is needed on other ways to mitigate climate change.
The government has committed to carrying out another risk assessment in 2025.
Provincial governments, businesses and ordinary Nova Scotians can use risk assessment to prepare for what lies ahead.
“The climate crisis demands urgent attention from all of us,” the assessment concludes.
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