British Columbia

Climate change in B.C.: Here's how 2050 could look

More rain, longer heat waves and rising tides likely even if emissions are cut in half

Tara Carman - CBC News

June 11, 2017

The risk of wildfires in the Okanagan will increase if average annual temperatures rise 2.5 C by 2050. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Climate change has been blamed for raging forest fires, devastating floods and shrinking glaciers, but scientists have determined the effects will look different in various regions of B.C. 

Their severity depends on how successful humans are in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Under a middle-of-the-road scenario that assumes that in the future greenhouse gas emissions are halved, the average annual temperature in B.C. would increase by 2.5 C by 2050, according to the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium.

This is more than the 2 C of warming climate scientists say represents a crucial tipping point — a scenario that forms the basis of the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels and closer to 1.5 C of warming.

In the Interior and the North, there would be even more variability, according to Trevor Murdock of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, which is run out of the University of Victoria.

Here is a summary of what this could mean for B.C. and Metro Vancouver.

Local experts in the field say it would look something like this:

How just 2.5 degrees warming will change B.C.  3:28

Other impacts could include a growing season in the Lower Mainland expanded by more than two months and a 30-per-cent drop in frost days in the Okanagan, meaning the winters won't be cold enough to keep pests away. 

In the Interior, the fire season could increase anywhere from 30 to 50 days.

With files from Johanna Wagstaffe and Polly Leger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Carman
Data Journalist

Tara Carman is an investigative journalist who specializes in finding the stories buried in big data. She has more than a decade of experience reporting in B.C., across Canada and overseas. She joined CBC News Vancouver in February 2017. You can reach her at tara.carman@cbc.ca or on Twitter @tarajcarman.

Start the day smarter
Get the CBC News Morning Brief, the essential news you need delivered to your inbox