Understanding and Assessing Impacts
Northern communities face many unique challenges that are not usually considered by Canadians living in the South. Fluctuating costs of energy, remoteness, periods of inaccessibility, a cold harsh climate and ageing and inefficient infrastructure. One of the goals of the plan is to increase the resilience of Churchill as a northern community and its capacity to adapt to a changing climate. Churchill has substantial infrastructure investments by Northern standards, with the Hudson Bay Railway, Port of Churchill and the Churchill Airport. All three of these pieces of infrastructure are impacted by a changing cryosphere. For example, the railway that sits precariously on discontinuous and continuous permafrost. Or, the port, which must face the demands of an increasing shipping season as the result of declining sea-ice in the Hudson Bay. The costs associated with maintaining this infrastructure are increasing as the climate changes. This throws into question commercial viability for both the railway and the port. For climate projections, Churchill uses the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) of RCP8.5 until 2050 and 2060. The projections show hotter temperatures, wetter weather, more frost free days, more lightning, and higher winds. According to climatedata.ca, annual precipitation is expected to increase 10% by 2050, under a high emissions scenario. There may also be an increase from 96 frost-free days to 113.5 frost-free days by 2050. Churchill is rising; parts of Hudson Bay’s coastline has been rebounding up to 15 millimetres each year. As a consequence of this, sea-level in Churchill has fallen at a rate of about one metre a century. Other changes include: later freeze-up and earlier break-up of sea ice; decreased snow cover; permafrost loss.