UVic group gets federal funds for training on climate data

Officials at UVic’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium are planning to use $1.25 million in federal funding to train people in how to use climate data to make their own adaptations to climate change.

Francis Zwiers, director of the consortium at the University of Victoria, said the plans include hiring a person to develop a training program designed to let people know how they might use the consortium’s data themselves.

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“It’s the kind of thing that is needed to bring people up to speed and help them better understand what kind of information they can reliably extract from the climate data that we offer,” said Zwiers. “We want them to know how they might use it themselves in the kind of planning they undertake.”

Catherine McKenna, federal minister environment and climate change, announced the five-year federal investment on Tuesday.

McKenna said the money will be used jointly with the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to plan how best to adapt to the changing climate.

In a statement, Environment Canada said damages from extreme weather last year cost Canadians at least $1.9 billion. The plan is to develop a national approach to climate adaptation.

Zwiers said his centre has worked with a variety of B.C. clients, Indigenous communities, regional districts, municipalities and provincial Crown corporations.

He said the Resort Municipality of Whistler is very interested in the future of its water supply.

It now relies on mountain snow pack which is expected to diminish.

“Generally, we would conclude the future snow pack is smaller than it is today,” Zwiers said. “From a human perspective, it becomes a water management issue.”

Likewise, B.C. Hydro is very interested in knowing better what changes to the provincial water resources can be expected as the climate changes.

“The kinds of questions [B.C. Hydro] asks us have to do with stream flows in the future,” Zwiers said.

“They want to know what flow regimes on power-producing rivers will look like in the future.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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