Webinar - Climate Variability and Change in the Southern Boreal Forest of Northern Saskatchewan

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Presented by Dave Sauchyn, Director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina and Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies. Since the mid 20th century, mean annual temperature has been increasing in the southern boreal forest of northwestern Saskatchewan at 2-3 times the global rate. Winter has been warming even faster. Climate models replicate these temperature trends and project further increases of 3-5 degrees in mean seasonal temperatures under 2 degrees of global warming, which likely will occur in the 2040s. This webinar presents climate change scenarios developed for the Sakitawak Conservation Project in support of their proposed IPCA. Model projections suggest increased precipitation especially in spring, but with a larger range from year to year. In the warmest months, increased precipitation is offset by higher rates of evapotranspiration resulting in a drying of wetlands and forest ecosystems. The trajectory and impacts of a changing climate must be understood from the perspective of hydroclimatic variability. A reconstruction of the annual hydroclimate of past centuries reveals considerate inter-annual and inter-decadal variability, which underlie the trends imposed by global warming. Therefore, impacts on boreal wetlands will depend on the interaction of these two scales and sources of variability in precipitation and temperature.