An overview of the products being produced under Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action. Natural Resources Canada is leading the process and depends on the collaboration of a broad partnership of subject-matter experts and assessment users, including from all orders of government, Indigenous organizations, universities, professional and non-governmental groups, and the private sector. To learn more about the assessment process, visit

Map showing observed changes in annual temperature (°C) across Canada between 1948 and 2016.

The differences between projections for climate variables under high and low emissions scenarios reveal two different potential futures for Canada. The high emissions scenario (RCP8.5) is associated with an increase in global average temperature of about 3.7°C by the late century, relative to the 1986–2005 reference period, whereas the low emissions scenario (RCP2.6) is associated with a global average temperature of about 1.0°C for that same time period.

Examples of trade-offs and co-benefits of actions where there are linkages between climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Reports developed under the current National Knowledge Assessment process (2016‒2022), Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.

Assets and challenges that influence adaptive capacity in cities and towns

The annual number of extreme heat days projected for six Canadian cities under three warming scenarios: global mean surface temperature of 1.5°C, 2°C, and 4°C above pre-industrial levels. The values are based on statistically downscaled simulations by 24 climate models participating in CMIP5, with the error bars representing the 25th and 75th percentiles, and the grey section showing the number of historical extreme heat days (1986–2005). The threshold for extreme heat differs by city (e.g., Toronto = 31°C, Vancouver = 29°C).

A graphical representation of an example of interdependencies between infrastructure systems.

Gerald Beaulieu’s public art installation “Watermark”, consisting of a series of 11 wooden posts of different heights along a riverside walking path in Fredericton, NB. The tallest post—the “memory pole”—is encased in copper sheets that mark the year and peak water level of the Saint John River during the annual freshet. This project is a great example of municipal Public Works collaborating with the Culture Office.

Definition of green infrastructure.

The Buttertubs Marsh Conservation Area, which comprises 55 hectares of reclaimed wetland and floodplain, appears in the centre (the “management area”) of this aerial photo of Nanaimo, BC.

An example of a flood hazard map for the municipalities of St. John’s Mount Pearl and Paradise in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A map showing the location of Faith-Based Organizations, affordable housing and vulnerable occupants

Map illustrating the Canadian cities with the largest Indigenous populations.

The traditional adaptation planning process (steps 1–6), with enabling actions added

Graphical representation of baseline self-assessments made using FCM’s Climate Adaptation Maturity Scale provided by municipalities that received FCM-support towards local adaptation projects. The five-point scale ranges from 1.0 (concept level) to 5.0 (continuous improvement level), and includes three competency areas: 1) policy, 2) human resources and governance, and 3) technical and risk management. This graph shows the average self-assessment values provided by small municipalities (e.g. less than 10,000), medium-size municipalities (e.g. 10,000-100,000) and large municipalities (e.g. more than 100,000) at the start of their adaptation projects.

An overview of the adaptation and GHG emissions reduction measures implemented through the upgrading of Rue Saint-Maurice in Trois-Rivières, QC.

Summary of key assets and challenges for rural and remote communities and areas related to climate change adaptation.

The Fort Conger historic site is being digitally preserved through the use of 3D laser scanning technology, which was used to create a digital reconstruction of the site.

The eNuk app is a tool for ongoing and near-real-time monitoring of observations, patterns and trends in climate and environmental conditions and associated health implications. The app allows community members to record their environmental and health observations in the form of photos, videos, audio recordings and text descriptions while travelling, hunting, fishing and harvesting on the land. The app includes indicators of environmental change (e.g., thinning ice or unusual weather patterns) and elements of both physical health (e.g., unintentional injuries) and wellness (e.g., feelings and emotions associated with certain conditions or places) (eNuk, n.d.).

Map displaying the average labour-force dependency of communities across Canada on natural resource sectors—including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, energy and mining—for the period 2001–2016. The colours on the map range from blue to red, where blue signifies low dependency, mostly in and surrounding large urban areas, and red indicates high dependency, which is mostly in rural and remote areas. The map shows that natural resource sectors provide as much as 50–100% of the base economic sector income for many rural and remote communities across Canada. Base economic sectors include natural resources (fisheries, agriculture, forestry, minerals, and petroleum and coal), utilities and construction, and manufacturing.

Graph illustrating the average labour-force dependency of different-size communities in Canada on natural resource sectors, as a percent of base economic sector income, for the period 2001–2016. Base economic sectors include natural resources (fisheries, agriculture, forestry, minerals, and petroleum and coal), utilities and construction, and manufacturing. Communities are grouped according to four different population sizes: 1) less than 5,000; 2) 5,000–10,000; 3) 10,000–100,000; and 4) greater than 100,000. The boxes indicate the maximum and minimum values for 95% of the data, the solid line within each box indicates the average value and the vertical lines extending from the boxes indicate the full data range. The graph shows that the labour force in communities with smaller populations tends to be more dependent on natural resource sectors than in communities with larger populations.

Graph showing the distribution of the average labour-force dependency on natural resource sectors, for the period 2001–2016, for communities in Canada with populations ranging from 100 to 10,000,000 people. Labour force dependency is defined as the percentage of labour force income derived from natural resources as a proportion of the total base sector income. Base economic sectors include natural resources (fisheries, agriculture, forestry, minerals, and petroleum and coal), utilities and construction and manufacturing. Each dot in the graph represents a different community in Canada. The vertical dotted line illustrates the population threshold used in this chapter for communities that are considered as being rural and/or remote (e.g., communities with a population of 10,000 or less). The graph shows that the labour force in communities with smaller populations tends to be more dependent on natural resource sectors than in communities with larger populations.

Flood-risk mapping in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Climate change impacts on the health and well-being of individuals living in rural and remote communities.

Summary of the intangible losses and damages of climate change on identity, cultural continuity and sense of place in rural and remote communities and areas in Canada.

Major recent events and trends in Canada related to water resources that have had significant impacts to communities and the economy.

Record high water levels and flooding on a dock near Saint Catharines, ON (left), and a walkway near Ontario Place in Toronto, ON (right).

Map of the Lake Simcoe Watershed in Ontario.

Diagram illustrating the adaptive management cycle.

An overview of the ADAPTool Scoring Results (from 1 to 10) for 27 policies examined in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. ADAPTool is structured as a series of Excel spreadsheets that take analysts through a standardized step-by-step process to assess the ability of existing policies or programs to support adaptation measures and the general adaptability of the policies or programs themselves.

The annual RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study, which asks respondents to indicate their degree of concern related to a range of issues, found that Canadians are concerned about water issues and climate change, but to a lesser degree than issues such as the cost of living, availability of healthcare and poverty.

A 2016 national survey of Canadians living in “flood risk areas” (as defined by Government of Canada, 2013), developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, evaluated perceptions about how the responsibility associated with protecting their property and paying for costs related to flood damage should be shared between different organizations.

The drainage basins of the Nelson and Churchill Rivers.

Percentage of dialogue in policy and planning documents across the Nelson‒Churchill basin related to four policy instruments for addressing water issues. See Table 4.1 for specific examples.

Key climate change hazards and risks to water infrastructure.

Flow chart illustrating step 3 of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) protocol. Step 3 includes a vulnerability assessment to identify the relationships between climate change and impacts to infrastructure.

Map of Canada’s terrestrial and marine ecozones.

Ten categories that are considered within the new Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Index developed by Swiss Re, which allows for country-wide or regional assessments of the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Map indicating Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Index values for different parts of the world.

The interdependencies of ecosystems, biodiversity, biophysical process, ecosystem function and service, and human well-being.

A visual summary of the relationship between supply and demand for the ecosystem services surveyed by Scholes (2016), both at the present time (open circles) and around 2050 (filled circles), under climate change. The range of possible outcomes around the year 2050 is depicted with a horizontal bar.

Illustration of positive vs. negative feedback loops related to climate-ecosystem interactions.

Example of a positive feedback loop, whereby the northward advance of forest vegetation due to climate warming reduces land surface albedo, thereby promoting additional warming (a positive climate-ecosystem feedback).

Climate change impacts in different regions across Canada, many of which have implications for ecosystems and their services.

The effects of climate change on permafrost and their cascading impacts throughout society and environment.

Map of the current observed range and predicted future range in 2055 for Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis), as well as trial locations for the assisted migration experiment.

Impacts of changes in sea ice on species used for food or other purposes (subsistence species).

An Elder from Wekweètı̀ teaches a younger member of the community to scrape and tan Caribou hides. Hides are soaked and stretched over a board before being scraped with a k’edze, a tool made from a Caribou’s lower leg bone.

Clothing and tools made by artisans in Wekweètı̀ from tanned Caribou hide.

Map of Canada outlining locations of existing and proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (note: the map is not a complete picture and some areas remain missing and disputed).

Framework used by Raymond et al. (2017) for the assessment of co-benefits from nature-based approaches.

Map of the North Onslow marsh in Truro, NS illustrating the extent of the area to be restored as a tidal wetland.

The generalized adaptive risk management framework for climate change adaptation comprises five stages: 1) awareness, 2) assessment, 3) planning, 4) implementation and 5) monitoring and evaluation. Not all feedback loops are shown in the figure for ease of presentation (e.g., between planning and awareness, and between planning and assessment).

Illustration of ballooning uncertainties along a “science-first” causal impact chain. The level of uncertainty increases as one moves along the impact chain (from left to right), leading to a high level of uncertainty in the cost and benefit estimates at the end of the chain.

Illustration of the timing and sequencing of adaptation options within short, medium and long time frames along an adaptation pathway.

The figure shows annual insured and uninsured losses (in 2018 Canadian dollars) from 15,788 weather-related events (e.g., flooding, storms, wildfires, extreme heat, etc.) worldwide that meet Munich RE’s NatCatSERVICE inclusion thresholds for dollar losses and fatalities over the period 1980‒2017. a) The dark blue bars indicate the total insured losses and the light blue bars indicate the total uninsured losses from all weather-related loss events globally in each year. The combined light blue and dark blue bars indicate the total economic losses from all weather-related loss events globally in each year. b) This figure illustrates the “protection gap”—the proportion of insured losses compared with total economic losses—highlighting the economic loss generated by catastrophes that are not covered by insurance.

The figure shows annual insured losses plus adjustment expenses (in 2018 dollars) from extreme weather events in Canada over the period 1983‒2018. The height of the bars shows the total losses plus expenses from all extreme weather-related events in each year. The solid yellow line shows the estimated upward trend in insured losses plus adjustment expenses.

Normalized annual insured losses plus adjustment expenses (in 2018 dollars) from extreme weather events in Canada over the period 1983‒2018. Losses are normalized following the approach used in Pielke et al., 2008, Miller et al., 2008, and Pielke et al., 2003, which adjusts for inflation and changes in population and wealth over time. The height of the bars shows the total normalized losses (orange) and real losses (blue), plus expenses from all extreme weather-related events in each year. The solid lines show the estimated upward trend in normalized losses (orange) and real losses (blue), plus adjustment expenses.

a) Projected annual social costs and b) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) costs for the City of Edmonton attributable to climate change by the 2050s and 2080s.

Projected annual social and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) costs for the City of Edmonton attributable to different levels of climate change above the 1981–2010 climate normal.

This stylized depiction of present-value benefits, costs and residual damage costs of adaptation (in 2016 dollars) assumes that the decision makers’ objectives are as follows: to reduce negative impacts and minimize the total cost of climate change. a) Projected baseline scenario (estimated damage function with climate change), b) estimated present-value social costs of climate change under the baseline scenario with no new adaptation actions, c) estimated reduction in projected social costs with new adaptation actions (i.e., defines the present-value benefits of adaptation), and d) estimated net benefits of adaptation actions, once the lifecycle costs of actions are taken into account.

The structural elements involved in assessing climate change impacts and adaptation.

Adaptation pathways developed by the Thames Estuary 2100 project in the UK to address future sea-level rise. This includes four packages of adaptation options, referred to as “high-level options”, for addressing different possible increases in sea level rise.

Illustration of the thresholds, lead times and adaptation decision points in the Thames Estuary 2100 project in the UK.

Declining social discount rate schedules in practice in the UK and France. The solid red line shows the social discount rate if it were assumed to be constant over time, whereas the solid blue line shows the schedule of declining discount rates used to appraise public policies, programs and projects in each country. The social discount rate schedule for the United Kingdom declines in discrete steps from 3.5% per annum to 1% per annum. In France, the official rate begins to decline after 30 years, following a hyperbolic path. In both countries, the discount rate to be applied to benefits in year 200 is lower than the rate for year 100. As a result, more weight is being assigned to the future rather than applying a constant discount rate to benefits in all years.

Net present values of the best performing adaptation actions for each of 46 coastal segments across 11 case study sites in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, listed from high (left) to low (right) economic advantage of intervention.

Distribution of the best performing adaptation actions by category of intervention, based on a cost-benefit analysis of 46 coastal segments across 11 case study sites in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

The figure shows estimated benefit-cost ratios (BCR)—present-value benefits divided by present-value costs—for 60 adaptation actions in Canada (see Appendix 6.4). Of the actions considered, 75% have a BCR greater than one, indicating that the benefits exceed the costs incurred to generate those benefits (i.e., these would typically be considered as justifiable investments on economic efficiency grounds). The unweighted average BCR across the 60 actions is 5.6, although the unweighted median BCR is 1.5. a) shows the benefit-cost ratios of different types of adaptation actions from the sample, differentiated by climate-sensitive sector, and b) shows the benefit-cost ratios of these actions, differentiated by category of adaptation action: “soft policy” actions (e.g., planned retreat, enhanced pest control, flexible scheduling); “soft engineering” actions (e.g., beach nourishment, green roofs); “hard engineering” actions (e.g., dykes, weirs, sea walls); and “combination” actions.

Economic barriers and limits to the maximum potential for adaptation.

Photo of a post-fire landscape at risk of regeneration failure: a site in the Northwest Territories, one year after a 2014 wildfire. This site had previously burned in 2004 and the short (10-year) interval between fires has led to a complete lack of tree recruitment. Poor regeneration is attributed to the absence of both seedlings and soil organic matter prior to the fire.

Number of wildfire evacuees in Canada (1980‒2020). Many factors, including fire frequency, size and location relative to population density, influence the number of evacuees. British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario have had the most evacuations from 1980 to 2020.

a) 2016 Horse River wildfire approach to Fort McMurray, Alberta. b) Maps outlining the growth of the 2016 Horse River Wildfire from May 2, 2016 to May 17, 2016.

The left-hand panels show sea-surface temperature anomaly data (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), including information from satellites, ships, and moored and drifting buoys. Temperature anomalies are the differences between the observed temperature and the long-term average temperature (both in °C) for a given location. The green, yellow and red colours represent above-average temperatures, whereas the blue and purple colours represent below-average temperatures. The right-hand panels show temperature anomalies by depth (in meters) along Line-P, as shown in the left-hand panels and starting near the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, BC, leading to the Ocean Station Papa (145°W, 50°N). The colours are demarcated by increments of 0.5°C.

Results of five simulations for the distribution and abundance of Greenland halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. a) Actual biomass data for the period 1990‒2013. b) Scenario involving warming only. The scenarios shown in panels c), d) and e) involve the same level of warming as in panel b), but this warming is accompanied by different levels of oxygen decline (c = 1% decline, d = 2% decline, and e = 4% decline). f) Scenario with a 4% oxygen decline and no warming. The impacts of warming alone (b) and warming accompanied by a 4% saturation decline in dissolved oxygen (e) appear similar with the colour coding used, although warming alone reduced high-density areas by 49%, whereas the two stressors combined caused a 57% reduction. Decline in dissolved oxygen without the increase in temperature only reduced biomass by 2%.

Healthy stage IV American lobster reared in ambient conditions (bottom) and a deformed stage IV lobster larvae under acidified conditions (top). The acidified lobster is smaller and claws have been lost due to environmental stress. Photo from a recent study at the St. Andrews Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Primary reclamation methods used in Canada. Methods are designed to address critical issues that differ with climate regions.

Evolution of the Lorraine, QC mine site reclaimed using a cover with capillary barrier effects. a) Before reclamation, b) after the 1998 reclamation and c) the site in 2007.

Summary of expected major climate changes and their implications for mine waste containment and reclamation structures.

Observed and projected changes in non-hydro renewable energy capacity in Canada between 2005 and 2040 under the National Energy Board reference case scenario. Higher rates of growth are projected under a technology scenario (NEB, 2018).

Potential increases in hydropower production in Iceland as a result of climate-induced increases in runoff and additional investments in infrastructure.

Interconnected infrastructure in Mud Bay, Surrey, BC highlighting the need for coordinated approaches in addressing risks presented by sea-level rise and other hazards.

Inter-comparison of changes to ski season length in Ontario, Quebec and New England markets with advanced snowmaking capacity under medium emissions (RCP4.5) and high emissions (RCP8.5) scenarios for the 2050s and 2080s. Baseline refers to the period 1981‒2010.

Cruise ship Hanseatic arriving in Pond Inlet, NU, ca. 2005.

Findings from the World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey (2019–2020), where risks were ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 according to perceived likelihood and perceived impact. Environmental risks rank among the highest, both in terms of likelihood and impact.

Core elements of recommended climate-related financial disclosures.

Global tracked climate finance flows by private and public actors in billions of USD. a) Two-year averages of climate finance contributions by private actors vs. public actors during the period 2013‒2018. b) Breakdown of the 2017‒2018 two-year average climate finance by private actors vs. public actors, and by sector.

Annual insured losses related to natural hazards in Canada, in millions of 2018 $.

Canadian jurisdictions with ongoing climate litigation plaintiffs, as of September 30, 2020.

a) Annual global CO2 emissions related to fossil fuel use and cement production for the period 1810–2017 (dark blue) and attributed to 103 major carbon producers (light blue). b) Percentage of global CO2 emissions for the period 1751–2017 produced by major carbon producers (orange) vs. unattributed emissions (light blue).

Examples of Canada’s exposure to indirect impacts of climate change with international dimensions.

Global drivers of Arctic marine change

Map of Arctic sea routes.

Summary of the research process used by Dawson et al. (2016) to identify promising adaptation options for cruise ship tourism in the Canadian Arctic. The Delphi technique uses iterative and structured expert elicitation to generate consensus judgments.

a) Migratory patterns of major Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) stock groups. Source: Adapted from the National Marine Fisheries Service, 2019. b) Average captures of regional Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) for the period 2009–2017 under managed fisheries of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The values in the pie charts represent the proportion of each region’s major chinook stock captured by individual fishing entities (averaged across regional stocks), and do not include escapement. Data source: Pacific Salmon Commission, 2019.

Map of projected shifts in the distribution of representative commercial transboundary fish species targeted by American and Canadian fisheries by 2050 under a high emissions scenario, relative to 2014. The coloured scale indicates the projected change in catch shares within the Exclusive Economic Zone (red = decline; purple = increase). The arrows on the map represent the direction of the shift in distribution for these five key fish species.

Projected climate change impacts for major drainage basins that are shared across Canada‒US borders.

Historical and projected future watershed classifications for the Columbia Basin, based on the global emissions scenarios (the A1B relatively high emissions scenario and the B1 low emissions scenario) for the 2020s, 2040s and 2080s. As climate change progresses, 50% of the total reservoir storage is expected to lie in Canada. Canada is also expected to have an increasingly dominant portion of natural water storage as snowpack.

Canada’s trade performance in 2018: a) value of exports (light blue) and imports (green) of goods in $ billions, by sector; b) Value of export (light blue) and import (green) of goods in $ billions, by trade partner or region.

Primary factors contributing to increases in global food prices, based on a four-crop price index (wheat, rice, corn and soybean). a) Shows the change in crop prices (green line) for the period 2002‒2011, and identifies long-term and short-term factors that contributed to price changes over time. Tighter supply-demand balances (as depicted by global stock-to-use ratio “S:U ratio”) and economic growth/recession, for example, are a backdrop to weather events and trade policies. b) Change in crop prices between May 2010 and April 2011 in relation to weather-related events that resulted in supply shortfalls. Both wet and dry conditions, which were not isolated to one global region, contributed to a reduction in global crop supply.

Cascading effects of environmentally induced rural to urban migration in Least Developed Countries.

A proposed structure for the Municipal Risk Pooling Facility project led by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.