Friday, June 3, 2011

Saskatchwean climate change expert to study global warming and wild Prairie storms

The Canadian Press: Storms, floods, droughts and forest fires on the Prairies have caught the attention of a climate change expert at the University of Regina. David Sauchyn, a geography professor and research scientist, has been given $1.25 million from the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa to study the effect of climate change on rural agricultural communities.

"All the best science that we have suggests that as you heat up the Earth, you're going to expect more violent weather and that's the big effect of global warming, so that's what we're studying," Sauchyn said Thursday. "We're going to focus on, first of all, to what extent can we explain our wild weather in terms of global warming? We still don't know. And, secondly, if we expect more of this kind of crazy weather, what can we do about it, especially the people who are most vulnerable?"

Sauchyn said people in cities can always duck into office buildings or their homes when the weather turns violent. But it's not that simple for farmers and First Nations. "They still have to make a living off the land and if there's drought and flooding and fires, they're severely impacted."

The money is part of a $2.5-million international project on vulnerability and adaptation to climate extremes in the Americas. Sauchyn's five-year project is to involve work in the Swift Current region in southwestern Saskatchewan and in southern Alberta. It is to be done in collaboration with a team that will look at similar agricultural regions in Chile, Argentina, Columbia and Brazil….

Aerial view of a fire in Saskatchewan, shot by Cameron Strandberg, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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