Canadian Forest Service Publications

Current and projected future climatic conditions for ecoregions and selected natural heritage areas in Ontario. 2010. McKenney, D.W.; Pedlar, J.H.; Lawerence, K.; Gray, P.A.; Colombo, S.J.; Crins, W.J. Climate Change Research Report CCR-16. (OMNR) 54p.

Year: 2010

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34353

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

The changes in global climate that have been projected for this century have major implications for the composition, structure, and function of ecosystems in Ontario. In this report, we present four approaches that summarize projected changes in climate across Ontario's ecosystems at two scales: for ecoregions and for selected natural heritage areas. First, the current climatic regime or"climate envelope" for each ecoregion is summarized and mapped for three future time periods (2011-2040,2041-2070,2071-2100); this shows where current ecoregion climatic conditions are projected to move as the century progresses. Second, climate summaries are provided for each ecoregion for the current and three future time periods to show how climate is projected to change within the currently defined ecoregion boundaries. Similarly, current and future climate summaries are provided for 29 selected natural heritage areas. Finally, to introduce the concept of climate-related movement of flora and fauna, current and future climate envelopes are generated for 12 Ontario tree species that have a range of climate and site type preferences. The extent to which these species' climate habitats are represented across Ontario's network of natural heritage areas is shown for current and future climate. Our findings suggest that changes are in store for Ontario, with ecoregion climate envelopes projected to shift northward, becoming increasingly smaller and more scattered, and in somecases even disappearing, as the century progresses. These changes are driven by a northward shift in temperature combined with relatively stable precipitation patterns. Clearly Ontario's natural heritage areas will also be affected by these changes. For example, the annual mean temperature in Polar Bear Provincial Park is projected to increase from -4.5°C to nearly +2°C and the number of growing season degree days will more than double by the end of this century; this climatic shift would in principle make the park's climate suitable for the growth of sugarmaple. This type of assessment is an important first step in projecting the effects of future climate on Ontario's ecoregions and natural heritage areas, and helps establish a basis for discussing and developing management strategies and policies to ensure the ecoregion framework remains relevant to land use planning in a rapidly changing climate. Together, these analyses provide novel perspectives on some of the challenges that resource managers are likely to face during the 21st century.

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