Ideafest: What a warmer climate means to you

Presentation examines how climate change will affect the coast

Pacific salmon caught in Arctic waters and a tropical dolphin swimming off Vancouver Island are two tales of climate change filtering into Ocean Networks Canada.

Anecdotes from witnesses and data collected by scientists will be part of an Ideafest event on Monday, March 4, that will give viewers a deeper understanding of what the warming climate means.

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“We want to show how are all these changes that people are seeing and observing are effecting people’s abilities to fish and live on the coast,” said Maia Hoeberechts, a scientist with Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria.

Hoeberechts will help co-ordinate a panel discussion and presentation called Climate Vision: What Can Indigenous Knowledge, Satellite Data and Cable Ocean Observation Tell Us About Our Changing Coast.

She said the presentation is meant to involve the audience. Onlookers are expected and encouraged to have questions about what climate change is doing to Canada’s coastlines.

With a far-ranging discussion, it’s hoped they will get a good idea of what climate changes can mean for human communities, as well as plants, animals and the environment of sea and shore.

UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada operates a variety of research projects on all three of Canada’s coasts, most notably the Pacific and Arctic. The agency is well known for its cabled observatories.

These observatories link sensory instruments to a cable laid along the ocean floor that is ultimately attached to data-collection facilities on land. The result is a constant stream of readings and measurements that are recorded and even available in real time.

Hoeberechts said she will be speaking on what the cabled observatories are revealing about the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean during winter freeze-up.

“The sea ice is diminishing, both in terms of the extent of the ice and the thickness of the ice,” she said. “The other thing we are seeing is the freeze-up is coming later and the breakup of the ice occurs earlier.”

“That sea ice is critical to the coastal communities for transportation, recreation, hunting, culture,” said Hoeberechts.

But she said Ocean Networks Canada is attempting to go a step further than data that measure environmental conditions such as ice thickness.

The agency is reaching out to coastal settlements, including Indigenous communities, to get a better sense of what the changes mean for people, as well as the ocean environment.

“We have been trying to understand just how much the ice is changing and what observations people have made and how much it is affecting their activity,” said Hoeberechts.

“Things like changing migration routes of animals or people’s abilities to get to traditional hunting grounds can have impacts,” she said. “It has become very difficult to reach areas where people have been hunting for generations.”

Climate Visions will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday at the First People’s House at UVic.

Anyone interested in climate can also check out a special screening of Beyond Climate at the Farquhar Auditorium, Saturday, March 9 at 7-9 p.m. It’s a film documenting climate impacts on people of B.C.

After the film, viewers can listen to a panel discussion with scientist David Suzuki, filmmaker Ian Mauro, director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions Sybil Seitzinger and Heiltsuk First Nation member Frank Brown.

It’s the only Ideafest session requiring admission, $10 for adults, $5 for students.

For more on Ideafest, go to uvic.ca/ideafest to find a full calendar.

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