The New Normal

It seems like the last few summers have been drier and hotter than we’re used to. People are saying this is the “new normal”. Unfortunately, the new normal is still a long ways off. For at least the next 50 years climate scientists are predicting constant change.

The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) is a not-for-profit organization based at the University of Victoria that, among other things, provides climate change predictions for the Pacific and Yukon regions. Their work is to “provide regional climate stakeholders with the information they need to develop plans for reducing the risks associated with climate variability and change.”

Their predictions for the Comox Valley during the period 2010-2039 include a 3% increase in annual rainfall compared to the 1961 to 1990 Base Period. But there’s a catch: most of this additional rainfall will be in the fall and winter. The summers are predicted to have 10% LESS rainfall. And the decrease in rainfall will be accompanied by an annual temperature increase of between 0.4% and 1.3%.
For the period 2040-2069 the annual increase in rainfall is predicted to be 6% but, again, the summer change is projected to be 17% LESS than the Base Period.

It may be tempting to assume that the additional rainfall will be stored in our aquifers and allow us to get through the drier summers. But that may not be the case. How much of that rainfall will be absorbed into the ground instead of rushing down the creeks to join the Salish Sea? We don’t know. One thing we do know is that the changing climate is going to be a stress on our water systems. For those of us concerned with the quantity and quality of our drinking water, conservation needs to be a large part of our “new normal”.

( Go to the Pacific Climate site to see more. )

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