Abstracts: CMOS Ottawa, 2020-2021

(in language given)

TwidleWhile a global pandemic paused many aspects of our lives in 2020, extreme weather events gave us no reprieve. Natural and man-made disasters, known as “catastrophes,” in the insurance industry, broke global records around the world last year, and Canada was no exception. Insured losses in Canada from catastrophic events in 2020 were nearly CAN $2.4 billion, continuing the past decade’s trend of increasing annual losses.

Identifying and preparing for the concerns of the more frequent, more severe extreme weather events anticipated by climate change is key to reducing impacts on Canadians. Insured loss data in combination with climate data and mitigation techniques can provide decision makers with the necessary information to act.

This presentation will provide an analysis of the meteorological factors at work in natural catastrophes and the geographical distribution of Canada’s NatCATs, with emphasis on 2020, using data collected by CatIQ, Canada’s insured loss and exposure indices provider. Analysis will include a close look at 2020 insured loss data and how it compares to the Canadian catastrophe loss database.

Niemi: Arctic Cod and copepod zooplankton are key forage species supporting subsistence species and ecosystem stability in coastal and offshore regions of the western Canadian Arctic. Long-term ocean observatories (1999-2018), ecosystem- based ship surveys (2012-2019) and acoustic moorings (AZFP) have together provided insights into the magnitude and timing of forage species responses to variable sea-ice and wind conditions. We present the multi-year forage species response to the 2012 record low summer sea-ice event, and we show how recent increases in downwelling favorable winds are supporting the concentration of forage species in areas of importance for Arctic Cod spawning and bowhead feeding. We also explore potential drivers related to changes in Pacific inflow, including associated ocean acidification, that could affect forage species on the Mackenzie Shelf and in the Amundsen Gulf.

Drever: Alongside the steep reductions needed in fossil fuel emissions, natural climate solutions (NCS) represent readily deployable land-based options that can contribute to Canada's goals for emissions reductions. We estimate the potential for mitigation of climate change from 24 NCS related to the protection, management, and restoration of agricultural lands, wetlands, grasslands and forests. These "pathways" can also deliver numerous co-benefits, such as enhanced soil productivity, clean air and water, and biodiversity conservation. We identify promising mitigation potential for NCS in Canada, with a significant proportion available as cost-effective mitigation. Pathways with potential include avoided conversion of grasslands, avoided peatland disturbance, cover crops and improved forest management. NCS represent an important potential contribution to Canada's commitments under the Paris Agreement, such that NCS combined with existing mitigation plans could help Canada to meet and exceed its climate goals.

Ward: Over 70% of our world is covered by oceans, yet only an estimated 5% of our oceans have been explored and charted. Underwater exploration requires advanced shipboard technologies and dedicated vessels. The Motor Vessel Alucia provides a unique research platform for this endeavour. MV Alucia is a sophisticated deep sea exploration vessel that combines the capabilities of a modern research ship with the comforts of a luxury yacht. Mark Ward has planned and coordinated expeditions for the owner of Alucia ocean philanthropist Mr. Ray Dalio since 2012. He also supports missions and outreach efforts for the OceanX, the non-profit research group founded by Mr. Dalio in 2018 (www.oceanx.org).

He will outline the ship’s facilities and their use to support and facilitate a range of diving, submersible and aerial research operations; as well as for filming of the oceans, as featured in the BBC series ‘The Blue Planet II’.  He will also highlight some of the research that has been done and introduce a new vessel the OceanXplorer, that was recently launched to augment the research efforts of OceanX.

Abby_Andrew_Adam:  Atmospheric warming is leading to rapid glacier surface melting, which releases vast volumes of freshwater to the ocean. Where glaciers flow into the sea, warm subsurface ocean water can also drive submarine melting leading to rapid terminus retreat and the production of icebergs. This series of talks will investigate relationships between changes in glaciers, the ocean, and icebergs in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA).

Abby uses speckle-tracking to produce a 12-year record (2009-2019) of winter surface velocities for the main outlet glaciers from the Prince of Wales Icefield, Ellesmere Island. Combined with thickness measurements, terminus retreat rates, and bed topography, this research will help to determine the processes controlling iceberg production from this region.

Andrew will discuss efforts to understand glacier-ocean interactions at the largest iceberg producing glacier in the CAA, including research from a polar sailing yacht. He will also present a new initiative, the Canadian Arctic Bedmap Project, which aims to produce a comprehensive DEM of subglacial and bathymetric bed topography for the next generation of high-resolution coupled glacier-ocean models.

Adam uses an unprecedented dataset of iceberg drift trajectories to perform the first large-scale validation of the North American Ice Service iceberg drift model in the CAA. Model skill will be assessed by performing hindcast simulations of iceberg drift and quantifying the error between observed and modeled drift tracks. This research will contribute to ongoing efforts to enhance the model to more accurately forecast the drift path of icebergs and improve safety in Arctic waters.

GajewskiEvidence of Holocene climate variability of the Canadian Arctic can be extracted from ice cores, but these do not reveal spatial differences across the region. In recent years, a sufficient number of lake sediment records have been accumulated from across the Canadian Arctic and coastal Greenland to allow the depiction of the time-space evolution of the climate during the past 10ka. Maximum Holocene temperatures (prior to the current warming) occurred earlier in the western Arctic than in the eastern Arctic or southern Greenland, with a general cooling (neoglaciation) in the late Holocene across most of the region. Major transitions are synchronous across the region. Similar climate sequences are seen in the boreal forest and at the forest- tundra ecotone, where interpretation of the vegetation response ("shrubification") is more subtle than a simple north-south movement of treeline. The space-time variation in climate can be explained as a response to insolation and ice sheet forcing. This climate variability had impacts on Arctic vegetation, and can be used to understand how current warming may affect Arctic ecosystems. Arctic plants migrated rapidly across the entire region after deglaciation, with no evidence of a "migration lag" to climate changes.  The major impact of climate warming on Arctic vegetation was on primary production, whereas impacts on biodiversity are more subtle. Variations in climate also impacted human population dynamics of the Arctic, as shown by a paleo-demographic analysis of archaeological dates from northern North America

Mueller:  In late July 2020, a large rift formed across the Milne Ice Shelf and resulted in the calving of 43% of its surface area. The Milne Ice Shelf was the last remnant of the larger 'Ellesmere Ice Shelf' to undergo a major calving event.  This ice shelf was thicker and better protected than others in the Canadian High Arctic and it dammed the mouth of Milne Fiord creating a freshwater lake to its landward side.  This 'epishelf lake' has been monitored over time to reveal inter-annual and seasonal changes and hosts fresh and brackish water species directly on top of the Arctic Ocean.  The ice shelf itself is a cryo-habitat for microbial communities that live on its surface while a community of benthic animals was recently discovered within the ice shelf. The fate of these cryo-environments is unknown following the events of last summer, but the trend in habitat loss along this coast is undeniable.  The need to conserve this region and its vulnerable ice-dependent ecosystems is clear and efforts are underway to make a permanent marine protected area at these high latitudes.  This conservation effort should be optimized by extending protection both east and west in addition to incorporating the terrestrial environment that is closely interconnected with the Arctic Ocean along this coast.  However, global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be part of the solution to mitigate future cryo-habitat loss due to environmental change.

Einarsdottir:  In light of our current situation, with COVID completely disrupting the ways of our orchestral world, I would like to come at the topic of Music and Climate from a slightly different angle and call it Orchestral Music and Social Change and to put forward this question: how can a symphonic orchestra, that is so heavily rooted in our cultural heritage, mostly performing repertoire and music from the past, be relevant and deal with current issues of today. To answer this I would like to talk about how we at the NAC Orchestra decided to shift our focus entirely. How we are now using this time of disruption to explore what the future holds for our art form, both in terms of the music we perform, who we choose as our artistic partners and how we use the digital medium to reach our audience and expand the experience. We have already shown this in our first NACO Live concert, which featured works by two women composers, three composers of colour and two young Canadian soloists from BIPOC communities, with a logged in audience of 2000 people and an overwhelming positive response and praise. Like COVID, the climate crisis is threatening to disturb our ways of living.  The climate crisis has become a topic that artists are working with in their creations. It is almost like a new field within the arts. This is understandable as the arts function like our digestion system. First we need the science to bring us the facts and then the arts take over and use them to inspire their art, music and stories so that we can internalize the facts and understand on an emotional level. Not until this happens can we truly expect any real change. This is exactly why the arts, and artists are so important to our societies. This is also why it is my firm belief that scientists and artists should work much more closely together, particularly now, when we need to deliver the urgent message of change. We hope that the Ideas of North festival will become this meeting point of music and science and that it will help us digest and internalize what is actually happening, and hopefully help us in making the important change we need for the future of the planet. In my talk I will give some interesting examples of the power of music and arts to deliver this message.

Phillips: Urban floods, ice rains, winter heat waves, interface wildfires, weather bombs, megadroughts - if you think we've been cursed and clobbered a lot harder and a lot more often recently, you are not imagining it. It used to be that our weather was "normal" and dependable. Now, more and more Canadians are asking: What's happening to our weather?  If our weather is becoming weirder and wilder are people responsible or is it nature doing this to us? Or both? Maybe we are changing more than the weather. What has become clear is that the Earth is warming, and the number of weather-related disasters is on the rise. We can no longer assume that yesterday's weather will apply tomorrow. 

Holloway:  Climate change is causing increases in the frequency, severity, and extent of fires, which is expected to change how permafrost responds and recovers after disturbance. There is a pressing need to better understand how certain variables affected post-fire permafrost dynamics in a changing climate. This was addressed through in-situ measurements and analysis of permafrost conditions following fires occurring over the last half century along a 650 km latitudinal transect spanning the discontinuous zones, from isolated patches to extensive discontinuous permafrost. Overall, the findings suggested that there has been significant permafrost degradation, due to both climate warming in the region and fire, especially at sites with thin organic layers, low gravimetric moisture content, and coarse-grained soils. Degradation also occurred at high ice-content sites, where ground subsidence and thermokarst develop, particularly in severely burned areas. However, permafrost persisted at sites where black spruce canopies with organic layers generally 40 cm thick overlie fine-grained sediments. Post-fire permafrost change occurred at sites which burned in the last 10 years, but over the long-term, frozen ground appeared resilient to fire, with characteristics like active layer thickness returning to pre-fire levels. However, this may change in the future as the climate continues to warm and the fire regime shifts. This research underlines the importance of monitoring and modelling a variety of landscape types to establish post-fire permafrost impacts, and more specifically the effects of heterogeneity of drainage conditions, substrate, and organic layer thicknesses on the fate of permafrost in the boreal forest.

Derksen: Canada's Changing Climate Report was released on April 1st, 2019.  Led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, this is the first report to be released through the national assessment report series: Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.  The report provides comprehensive information on how and why Canada's climate has changed, and what changes are projected for the future.  This talk will present results from the report on changes across Canada in temperature, precipitation, snow, ice and permafrost, freshwater availability as well as in Canada's three ocean's.  Changes in Canada's climate will be considered within the broader context of global-scale changes, with a focus on recent results from the IPCC Special Report on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

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