Principle Investigator: Edward Cloutis
Co-Investigators: Anke Kirch, Jillian Golby, Grant Wiseman, Darcy Carter
Climate change is a phenomenon that is receiving increasing worldwide attention. While substantial research has been carried out on the potential effects of climate change in the Canadian Prairies at the regional, provincial, and individual farm levels, no studies have evaluated the socioeconomic impacts of these changes at the community level. In addition, despite the increase in media attention, many people at the community level are still uninformed and confused about the potential biophysical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change. The research presented in this report assessed the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and forestry, and evaluated the detailed impacts on six rural municipalities in the Canadian prairies. The research project was designed as an evolutionary model, allowing for progressive improvements in functionality and sophistication. An initial model in the form of a software toolwas developed and established: the Socio-Economic Analysis (SEA) model. The model is designed to examine the socioeconomic impacts of climate change on agriculture and forestry in prairie communities and to aid these communities in determining the economic impacts of various adaptation strategies. It is flexible and interactive and can accommodate various standard or user-defined scenarios. The base data used in the SEA model includes biophysical data published by various authors, as well as economic and socioeconomic data from various government agencies. The output from various iterations of the SEA model shows that climate change impacts on agriculture mostly depend on the chosen scenario, while all forestry scenarios agree that grassland and other vegetation types will extent northwards, thereby reducing the amount of boreal forest in the three Prairie provinces.