2017 Spring Workshop & AGM

  • Hans Schreier (Keynote) – Extreme Climatic Events & Land Use Intensification: A New Challenge for Water Management

Abstract: Recent evidence shows that extreme climatic events are becoming more frequent and their impacts are enhanced due to changes in land use intensification. There is lots of evidence that densification in the urban environment is resulting in more impervious surfaces, leading to greater surface runoff, more frequent flooding and spikes in pollution. Soil compaction and drainage in agriculture creates similar problems. Droughts are leading to water stress and soil desiccation and if preceded by heavy rain events is leading to erosion and flooding. The first part of the presentation will provide examples of recent extreme climatic events. In the second part examples of land use intensification in urban and agricultural watersheds will be presented to show how this affects the hydrological cycles and how this is leading to more flooding and water pollution in streams. The final part of the presentation focuses on examples of innovative ways to reduce impacts and risks using the principle of green water management, soil amendment and conservation efforts.

Abstract: As new growth, urbanization and redevelopment continues throughout the lower mainland and Fraser River lowlands it is not uncommon to hear about new trends in stormwater management, riparian area protection, wildlife corridors and other practices for low impact development. However, very little attention or practical research is being done on the importance of urban soils. Common understanding of the principles of geomorphology, biology and other fields of study have clearly demonstrated that unique and special things happen at the interfaces of our physical world. The soil layer is the interface between our atmosphere and the earth, it is vital to humanity. As the world turns its attention to Climate Change and the top priority of water resource availability and water resource management more attention is needed on the important role that soil will play in our very near future. For the next 20 minutes I will present a summary of observations, suggestions and concerns about the lack of awareness around soil protection and restoration in urban environments.

Abstract: The effects of climate change on the future availability of irrigation water from the Fraser River were identified as an area of concern. Tetra Tech was engaged by the Delta Farmers Institute to conduct numerical modelling studies of the effects of sea level rise, changes in river flow and future dredging practices on the availability of water of suitable quality for irrigation. By applying a comprehensive three dimensional hydrodynamic model. Tetra Tech predicted that sea level rise, dryer river flow and channel dredging will all contribute to further advancement of the salt wedge, elevation of salinity, and narrowing of withdrawal window for irrigation. In addition, climate change is causing higher precipitation during the wet periods and less precipitation during dry summer months. These result in surface ponding and drainage issues during the wet months and irrigation need during the dry summer. Impacts of these erratic climatic behaviors can be reduced by improving soil organic carbon, installing subsurface drainage, and irrigation with river water. Subsurface drainage can cause rapid oxidation of the organic carbon reducing the adaptation benefits associated with it including soil salinity management. New remote sensing and GIS based research at The University of British Columbia endeavours to identify management option that would optimize the benefits of the strategies related to climate mitigation and adaptation mentioned above. The findings from the study by Tetra Tech would enhance the understandings provided by this new research.

  • Tom Pypker – Potential Impact of Climate Change on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from sub-Boreal Peatland

Abstract: Peatlands are a critical component in the global carbon (C) cycle because they represent a long-term sink of atmospheric carbon. Today, soil carbon stocks in peatlands are estimated to be 1850 Pg (1015g); equal to 12-30% of the global soil carbon pool. Moreover, peatland ecosystems currently sequester an estimated 76 Tg (1012g) C-1 yr-1. Peatlands are also a significant source of methane (CH4) because of the anaerobic conditions occurring in the often saturated peat. The fate of the stored carbon in peatlands is now in question because many of the world’s peatlands are located in northern climates where temperature and precipitation are expected to experience rapid change. Using examples from my research in Upper Michigan, I will present information on how changes in hydrology and temperature may influence carbon emissions from peatlands.