Climate variability and change impacts on coastal environmental variables in British Columbia, Canada




Abeysirigunawardena, Dilumie Saumedaka

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The research presented in this dissertation attempted to determine whether climate variability is critical to sea level changes in coastal BC. To that end, a number of statistical models were proposed to clarify the relationships between five climate variability indices representing large-scale atmospheric circulation regimes and sea levels, storm surges, extreme winds and storm track variability in coastal BC. The research findings demonstrate that decadal to inter decadal climatic variability is fundamental to explaining the changing frequency and intensity of extreme atmospheric and oceanic environmental variables in coastal BC. The trends revealed by these analyses suggest that coastal flooding risks are certain to increase in this region during the next few decades, especially if the global sea-levels continue to rise as predicted. The out come of this study emphasis the need to look beyond climatic means when completing climate impact assessments, by clearly showing that climate extremes are currently causing the majority of weather-related damage along coastal BC. The findings highlight the need to derive knowledge on climate variability and change effects relevant at regional to local scales to enable useful adaptation strategies. The major findings of this research resulted in five independent manuscripts: (i) Sea level responses to climatic variability and change in Northern BC. The Manuscript (MC) is published in the Journal of atmospheric and oceans (AO 46 (3), 277-296); (ii) Extreme sea-level recurrences in the south coast of BC with climate considerations. This MC is in review with the Asia Pacific Journal of Climate Change (APJCC); (iii) Extreme sea-surge responses to climate variability in coastal BC. This MC is currently in review in the Annals of the AAG (AN-2009-0098); (iv) Extreme wind regime responses to climate variability and change in the inner-south-coast of BC. This MC is published in the Journal of Atmosphere and Oceans (AO 47 (1), 41-62); (v) Sensitivity of winter storm track characteristics in North-eastern Pacific to climate variability. This manuscript is in review with the Journal of Atmosphere and Oceans (AO (1113)). The findings of this research program made key contributions to the following regional sea level rise impact assessment studies in BC: (i) An examination of the Factors Affecting Relative and Absolute Sea level in coastal BC (Thomson et al., 2008). (ii) Coastal vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise, Northeast Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (formally known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), BC (Walker et al., 2007). (iii) Storm Surge: Atmospheric Hazards, Canadian Atmospheric Hazards Network - Pacific and Yukon Region, C/O Bill Taylor.



Climate variability, Climatic changes, Coastal environmental variables, Extreme value analysis, Extremes, Sea levels, Winds, Storm surges, Storm tracks