A view of Mission Creek near the Creekside Pub in 2017 night in Kelowna.

Climate change causes annual temperatures to rise in Kelowna

Humans will need to focus on adaptation and mitigation to combat climate change

Kelowna’s average temperature rose by 0.8 C in 2018, according to data compiled by AccuWeather that was released earlier this year.

This anticipated change was addressed in December by the provincial government, which hopes its carbon reduction strategy, the CleanBC plan, will combat climate change while growing the economy. The plan combines several goals to ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions; including requiring every new building constructed in the province to be net-zero ready by 2032 and every new car sold to be a zero-emission vehicle by 2040.

“To protect our communities and set us on the path to a stronger, more sustainable future, we will need to transform the buildings we work and live in, how we get around, and how we power our economy and use cleaner energy,” reads a portion of the provincial report.

Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, says that both mitigation and adaptation is necessary for the Okanagan to combat climate change.

“The local government is now investing a lot of effort in understanding where flooding will most likely be … and managing flooding along creeks, expecting flooding,” said Warwick Sears.

She predicts that farmers will be working to improve irrigation systems to support more plants even if there is less water available during a drought via drip irrigation as well as systems that will cool plants during the hottest days in summer. Also, she expects that more people will begin managing water on their own properties, including flood preparation.

“We just have to keep moving forward one way or another. On average we will be able to take care of most people, but some people like the people in Grand Forks that got flooded, there will be people in certain neighbourhoods and marginal areas that will experience more difficulty and will be more vulnerable,” said Warwick Sears.

RELATED: More snow and cold weather on the way

In May last year, residents of several southern B.C. communities experienced flooding. There were evacuation orders and alerts posted for 1,600 people and affected more than 3,000 in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. Local states of emergency were posted in nearly two dozen communities across B.C. including Osoyoos and Keremeos. Heavy rains and spring runoff combined to push flood waters to levels not seen in 70 years in and around Grand Forks.

“How do we protect ourselves from heat waves and cold snaps, like this cold weather we have had, you can’t tell if any weather event is related to climate change, and the movement of the Polar Vortex is becoming wigglier,” said Warwick Sears.

Kelowna saw temperatures drop below -12 C in January and the cold snap has continued through the beginning of February.

The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium’s Plan2Adapt tool predicts that the 2020s (2010 to 2039) there will be an increase of 14 frost-free days and less rain in the summer and more snowfall in the winter.

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