The Standard outlines a risk assessment process to be applied to infrastructure to mitigate the environmental damage, destruction and health risks as a result of drivers of increased erosion and sedimentation including climate change. Assessing risk associated with northern infrastructure shall consist of the following components:
- identifying the main characteristics of the infrastructure to be taken into account in the risk assessment process;
- identifying hazards;
- assessing the probabilities of occurrence of each hazard by analyzing available traditional knowledge, historical data, and results of predictive models; and
- assessing the consequences of the damage to the infrastructure, the local community, and the environment.
The present and ongoing impact of climate change are considered through each of the risk assessment components. The Standard draws from a wide range of climate research and data from academic and provincial and federal government agency assessments.
Climate change is accelerating erosion and sedimentation in Canada’s North. Though all regions of Canada are experiencing climate change impacts, all climate change models have thus far indicated that climate change will be greater in the Arctic than in other regions of Canada, with current warming in the Arctic at more than twice the rate of global mean temperatures, and this discrepancy is expected to become more pronounced over time. Moreover, the rate and amount of future warming is strongly dependent on ongoing and future GHG emission scenarios (e.g., RCP 4.5 vs RCP 8.5).
The main climate hazards that can impact northern infrastructure vary according to geographical region and environmental settings. The primary climate drivers of erosion and sedimentation considered in a risk assessment analysis include, but are not limited to:
- sea level;
- wave climate and extremes;
- the frequency and intensity of storm events;
- sea or lake ice cover and dynamics; and
- permafrost thaw