Vacea Integration Meeting-09May2016

Published: May 9, 2016

The Vulnerability to Extreme Events (Drought, Flood,
Fire) in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, Canada
Presented by
Assoc. Prof. Margot A. Hurlbert, University of Regina
Harry Diaz, David Sauchyn, Elaine Wheaton, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Extremes
in the Americas Project Canadian Team
May 9, 2016
Vacea Integration Meeting
Termas EC, Chile on
• Method
• Five Nodes of Vulnerability
• Reflection of how Canada
fits in
• Strengths, weaknesses, gaps
• Doubts
• Interdisciplinary work?
• Moidification in future?

Survey Monkey
• All Canadian Team
members were sent the
translated integration
process of P. Mussetta
• Identify:
• key impacts of climate
change and key
• determinants or causes
• consequences of
• adaptive strategies….

Canadian Vulnerability Nodes
• Reduced
programs for
• Programs support
profitability, not
• Policy is based on
he past and not
informed by
• People plan for
weather, not
vs. Weather
2. God
Dismissal of
way of life
5. Transformations
Deficit of inter-disciplinary science
and deep social learning
1. It’s all about weather: drought and
flood (not climate)
• In interviews, people
spoke about the weather
– drought or flood
• Weather is short term
variations in atmospheric
conditions (temperature
and precipitation)
• Climate is a statistical
synthesis of weather and
people have difficulty
grasping possible future
• The SSRB has a much
wider natural historic
climate variability than
what is presently
considered in planning
• Climate models show an
even greater climate
variability in the future
• Warmer wetter winters
and warmer, drier
summers with longer
growing seasons are
Producer and community adaptations
Experience is key
• Adaptive measures or practices: rotational grazing, crop rotation, crop selection (e.g., lentils
for drought-resistance; yellow peas for shorter growing seasons), contour tillage, zero-till
farming, hauling water, bringing hay from other areas, and diversification of water sources
(digging more dugouts, rainwater conservation, drilling wells, accessing natural springs, and
using mixed water sources), as well as reliance on crop insurance, changing management
practices (stockpiling hay in non-drought years or selling or even culling cattle in drought
• Improving access to water resources by maintaining and improving existing water resources
and investing in further irrigation were noted as the best adaptive practices to droughts.
Wells, dugouts, dams and dike irrigation are commonly used in the area, as well as
conservation practices such as irrigating later in the day to avoid evaporation. While all
agricultural producers are sensitive to drought, the existence of an irrigation infrastructure is
key to drought-proofing the area, especially in Alberta.
• Local water co-operatives have also enhanced adaptive capacity in the area. The cooperatives run water lines and pump infrastructure, which assist producers during drought
Soil Erosion, Saskatchewan
Impact: We don’t plan for climate change…. because it is uncertain
Less adaptive capacity in relation to flood (excess precipitation) hail and wind
Location of farm is key
When will we notice climate change?
This and next 2 slide from “Theme 2: Climate and
Agro-Ecological Variability” presented by David Sauchyn, Saskatoon Nov 3, 2014
Time of emergence of climate signals
Hawkins and Sutton (2012)
ToE: Time of Emergence
S/N: Signal/Noise
“uncertainty owing to internal variability is
dominant and is essentially irreducible”
Fischer et al. (2013)
• Most GCMs and RCMs are able to replicate the historical climate of
western Canada in terms of spatial and annual and seasonal patterns
• Projections of changes in temperature and are consistent and robust
• Conversely, projections of changes in the amount and intensity of
precipitation, for example, are much less certain
• Thus we are able to provide a set of climate change scenarios, that is,
projected changes in average temperature and precipitation
• Projections of changes in the severity and frequency of climate extremes
differ to a large degree among models, runs of models and across the
study areas.
Climate Scenarios – Conclusions
Causes of vulnerability
• Lack of comprehension of science
• Focus on uncertainty and this prevents
decision making instead of focus on certainty
• Plans and policies respond to the fragmented
issues of drought and flood, not climate
Adaptive Strategies
• Past experiences build adaptive capacity but a
long term planning time frame is required
taking into account climate science
• Adaptations for drought and flood can be
• Better job communicating consequences of
global climate changes
• We need to frame the problem as climate
change, not variability
“Climate has been changing forever… there is little to
nothing mankind can do about it… we have wasted a
lot of time on this BS”
2. The God Effect: Dismissal of
• “Our God has created this,
and the environment, it
does clean itself up..”
• Rejection of science based
policy by previous Canadian
• Reliance on individuals to
• Failure to take into account
climate change in policy
• Failure to utilize social
science in policy (could lead
to maladaptation)
• One size fits all policy
Future Strategies
Recognize human elements of
• Social capital (Hutterites and
NGOs) are increasingly
important given reduction of
• Build emergency response
based on social capital and
community priorities
• Examine power relations
amongst producers.
• Geographical determination
and scale of drought and flood
and better calibration of policy
• Capacity of people to
respond to extreme events
determines if an event is a
• Disasters may reduce by
virtue of social dimensions
3. The Reduction of Institutional Study
and Capacity
Loss of institutional capital
• PFRA disbanded
• Loss of Canadian wheat
• Loss of crow rate for rail
• Increasing costs of disaster
payments for flood
• Increasing urbanization and
loss of education and health
• Future projections are for
reduced stream flow in SSRB,
especially in summer
• Longer, more protracted
• These impacts combined with
the losses of institutional
capital leave farmers more
vulnerable than they have
been to climate change,
drought and flood
Future Strategies
Institutional hot spots
• The legal water rights system
and PPWB agreement for
water sharing between Alberta
and Saskatchewan need public
consideration in light of CC
• Can policy instruments be
revised and retooled taking
into account the impacts of
climate change? (longer
• What can local governments
do in relation to emergencies?
• Recommendations made
after a drought and flood
need to be implemented
• New methods of providing
institutional support in
current neo-liberal context
• Reconsider local
government and delivery of
services of provincial and
federal government (rebuild
4. Agriculture is Both a Way of Life and
an Agri-Business
• A small number of large
farms (10%) account for
most farm revenue
• The scale of our science
corresponds to the
scale of agri-business!
• Rural social capital is
weaker than it has been
• Large producers
successfully access
instruments and
information to adapt
• Small producers adopt
livelihood strategies
(obtaining off farm
income, renting out
farm land, etc.)
Future Strategies
• Recognize small
agricultural producers
as an important feature
of the agricultural
landscape and
• Target programs to
small producers, e.g.
wetland conservation,
• Support agriculture as a
way of life, “Ag more
than ever”
• Support the social and
human capital of all
farmers; make sure
small farmers have
access to technology,
information, need to
sustain livelihood of
5. Interdisciplinary transformation
We have not done enough
interdisciplinary work
• Academics traditionally
work on independent
research projects
• Academia doesn’t reward
Questions we missed
• How do warmer winters,
shorter snow pack, and more
precipitation in winters impact
dam management flood zones,
building standards…?
• How do flood issues get
• How can adaptations be
optimized given changing
north and south dimensions?
SCC: Irrigated land has increased
Trends from Satellite Image Analysis: 1984-2011 – J Piwowar
Longer growing season and increased biomass
Future Strategies
Framing the research question
• Evidence based adaptation
policy and planning requires
interdisciplinary work
• Common framing of
problems and
understanding of key
variables and relevant
scales of analysis
Process is important
• Mutual framing of all
science required
• Need integrated research
programs that include the
natural and social scientists
in defining the problem
• This must be demonstrated
at the forefront

Pathway to Resilience
and innovate
by integrating
disciplines by
God effect: Dismissal of
Science Weather vs.
Start with a
plan for
change that
Institutional deficit
Agricultural way of life
as way
of life Re-tool
and policy
support for
Climate Resilience
Adaptive Governance
of Disaster
Drought and Flood in Rural Areas
Margot A. Hurlbert
May, 2016

Community vulnerability
Modeling climate variability and
Ecosystem sensitivity / health
Governance and policy
Adaptive practices
Integration analysis