Government of New Brunswick

The effects of climate change are being experienced in New Brunswick and are expected to have further impacts on this province in the future. This will affect all aspects of the environment, economy and society in New Brunswick.

The environmental effects of greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase unless action is taken to limit and ultimately reverse their production. However, efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot stop climate change from occurring. Therefore, New Brunswick must also take measures to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Major Changes and Effects of Climate Change

Change in temperature

Climate models predict that by the year 2100, the average global temperature will increase by 1 to 6 degrees Celsius. A small shift in average temperature can cause extreme weather events to happen more often.

In New Brunswick, both the frequency of winter thaws and the intensity of precipitation events have increased. The accumulation of snow (snow pack) has decreased by 25% in the north and by 50% in the south.

Change in Sea Level

Change in sea level

Sea level rises primarily as a result of the melting of glaciers and ice caps and the rate at which they are melting has increased due to global warming.

It is expected that the sea level will rise 50-60 cm, with fluctuations of plus or minus 35 cm, by the year 2100. A rise of coastal water, along with an increase in storm surges, can accelerate coastal erosion and result in the loss of public infrastructure, such as roads, wharfs and bridges; natural capital, such as beaches, dunes and wetlands; and other coastal and man-made features.

In the past 100 years, the sea level has risen by about 30 cm in New Brunswick . A further rise of 50-60 cm is anticipated by 2100.

Coastal Erosion and Storm Surge Events

The effects of sea-level rise, coastal erosion and storm surge events can be observed predominantly in New Brunswick's communities and businesses in coastal areas. However, in-land communities and businesses are also experiencing effects such as flooding and ice jams.

In recent years, New Brunswick has experienced the effects of many extreme weather events, some of which resulted in significant economic losses. Here are some examples of the impacts associated with such weather events:

  1. In January 2000, a single storm surge in Pointe-du-Chêne caused more than $2 million in damages.
Pointe-du-Chêne - 2000
Pointe-du-Chêne - 2000
  1. Warm weather during the winter of 2006/07 resulted in logging operations being closed since winter logging roads, which are normally frozen, had thawed and were unusable.

  2. Flooding in downtown Fredericton, April 2005.
Downtown Fredericton - 2005

   

Downtown Fredericton - 2005
Downtown Fredericton - 2005

These types of events are expected to happen more often as sea level continues to rise and global temperatures increase.

Natural Resources

It is expected that tree species will change and the frequency of forest fires will increase in New Brunswick. Over time, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture will experience impacts. These include new diseases and pests, as well as the arrival of new species with different economic values and a variety of environmental consequences. It is also expected that the quantity and quality of water supplies will be affected.

Anticipated changes

Today's scientists suggest that in New Brunswick, we can anticipate the following changes in the future:

  • A rise in coastal water levels and increased storm surges;
  • Warmer weather in winter and summer, and an increase in total precipitation, falling in fewer, but more intense events;
  • More frequent winter thaws, and an increased risk of ice-jam flooding;
  • Larger fluctuations in river runoff;
  • More significant coastal erosion and flooding;
  • More extreme and variable weather patterns; and
  • Larger fluctuations in groundwater availability.


Adaptation to Climate Change


Since the effects of climate change cannot be stopped completely in the short term, it is important that measures be taken and adjustments are made to adapt to these changes. People in New Brunswick are already adapting to existing and anticipated effects of climate change. Here are some examples of what is being done:

  • Raising their homes and cottages;
  • Moving out of danger zones;
  • Installing barriers and using other erosion-control methods;
  • Removing and trimming trees next to power lines;
  • Reducing time spent in the sun and wearing sunscreen;
  • Purchasing generators and supplies in case of storms and power outages; and
  • Designing storm water systems to handle increased precipitation
Adaptation to climate change