Okanagan residents should get ready for hotter and drier summers, including the risk of more wildfires, according to a new climate change report.
That’s according to the Okanagan Climate Projections Report, which was commissioned by the Regional Districts of North Okanagan, Central Okanagan, and Okanagan-Similkameen.
The report states the region will see an average of 22 days above 30 Celcius a year moving into the 2050s, compared to six days a year on average now.
Gillian Aubie Vines, the report’s lead writer, said the higher temperatures will lead to heat stress for plants and animals and could have serious health impacts on humans, especially for vulnerable populations including children and the elderly.
There will be also be increased precipitation outside of the summer season, which means there will likely be more flooding and landslides that could put significant stress on ecosystems as well as infrastructure.
She acknowledged the report paints a grim picture of the future, but said she’s still hopeful.
“It’s not uplifting, but I like to think that knowledge is power. This just means education and collaboration will play a huge role in preparing for these changes,” she said.
“Working together as a region to understand and prepare together will be very important.”
While the report focuses mainly on the negative impact of climate change, it also projects the region will have longer growing seasons over time, which could bring new opportunities for new crops, but could also reduce the agricultural sector’s productivity because of more frequent and intense storms.
There is also a risk water shortages could become more frequent as farmers fight to take advantage of the longer growing season.