A strategy to prepare Lake Simcoe communities for the impacts of climate change was approved Feb. 28, 2020, by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority board.
The goals of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy are:
- To ensure that people, properties and communities remain sufficiently protected as climate conditions change.
- To increase watershed resistance and resilience to climate change through conservation, restoration, and improvement of natural ecosystems.
- To enhance our knowledge of our watershed’s natural environment and its response to a changing climate through science and monitoring for informed and adaptive decision-making.
- To facilitate partnerships and connect people to the watershed in order to build awareness and capacity to adapt to a changing climate in the Lake Simcoe watershed.
To determine the conditions that the Lake Simcoe watershed could face as a result of climate change, LSRCA looked at data for global climate models and downscaled it to the Lake Simcoe watershed.
Data indicates, for instance, that by the year 2080, the Lake Simcoe area can expect to have 48 days per year when the temperature is above 30C. That compares with six days a year in the baseline period (1981-2010) and 14 days a year in the 2020s.
By 2080, 16 days per year are expected to be below minus 10C. That compares with 38 days a year in the baseline period and 32 days a year in the 2020s.
The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy discusses the impact of climate change on water quantity, the lake’s ecosystem, and terrestrial natural heritage.
For example, ice record data indicates that the period of ice cover on Lake Simcoe has been decreasing, and in recent years, open water has even remained throughout the winter.
“Lake ice is highly vulnerable to climate change,” the strategy says. “Climate modelling predicts that this will only continue and that the duration of open water may extend by up to 47 days (from 257 days in the baseline period [1971-2000] to 304 days by 2100).
This is bound to affect not only the lake’s ecosystem but also the winter recreational economy, cultural heritage and winter transportation.
The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy sets out 36 recommendations for actions that will be taken to help the Lake Simcoe watershed respond to the challenges of climate change.
These recommendations include:
- Work with the Province to review water balance policies for developments to ensure that they consider climate impacts
- Design restoration projects based on design guidelines, modelling, prioritized opportunities, long-term monitoring and watershed plans which consider the influence of climate change
- Coordinate with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to ensure that updates to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and Lake Simcoe Phosphorous Reduction Strategy incorporate climate change.
To read more about the LSRCA’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, go to:
PHOTO: 'Lake ice is highly vulnerable to climate change.'