Potential Sectoral Impacts of Climate Change

Agriculture:

  • Warmer and longer growing seasons could be positive for the growth and yield of new or existing crops, such as corn.
  • Shorter and milder winters may put less stress on livestock.
  • Abundance and distribution of various weeds, pests and diseases—both positive and negative—will be influenced by climate change; exotic species are expected to arrive.
  • Wetter springs and greater potential for floods, as well as hotter, drier summers with more potential for drought, could adversely affect crop and livestock production as well as create expensive challenges for provincial safety net programs.

Forestry:

  • More frequent and severe insect outbreaks, such as of mountain pine beetle.
  • Forest fires are expected to be more frequent and of higher intensity and burn over larger areas.
  • Increased tree mortality in the southern margin of the boreal forest as a result of the interaction of insects, drought and fire, leading to the expansion of aspen parklands and grasslands ecosystems.
  • Northward expansion and changes in species composition could alter the structure and function of the boreal forest.

Mining:

  • Drought conditions leading to reduced water levels and intake could impact production.
  • Warmer winters could lead to winter road closures, resulting in additional costs.
  • Extreme weather events such as flooding and forest fires could isolate mining operations from people, goods and services as well as increase health and safety concerns.
  • Changes in precipitation patterns and overland flooding may impact waste containment structures (tailing ponds), potentially leading to their failure to prevent contamination of land, surface water and groundwater and harm to species, habitats and ecosystems.

Transportation and Infrastructure:

  • Increased damage to southern roads, railways and other structures as a result of flooding, erosion and landslides.
  • Continuing loss of winter roads; reports already show decreased ice thickness, poor ice texture and density, delayed winter road seasons and decreased load limits, which leads to higher costs for communities to transport goods and services, as well as greater social isolation.
  • The longer ice-free season in Hudson Bay and northern channels will increase opportunities for ocean-going vessels to use the Port of Churchill.
  • Due to continued permafrost degradation, Northern railways (such as the rail line serving Churchill) will require more frequent repair, if not replacement.
  • Permafrost degradation will also impact northern roads, airstrips and building foundations.

Energy:

  • Loss of oil and natural gas production due to more frequent excess moisture and flood conditions, limiting access to production and distribution facilities.
  • Drought conditions could create conflicts between the energy sector and other water-users.
  • Annual average streamflows are projected to increase and the timing of run-off will be subject to seasonal shifts within the Nelson-Churchill Watershed for the 2050s time period, potentially resulting in higher electricity generation capacities.
  • Seasonal differences due to warming temperatures will have a counteracting effect on total annual electricity energy demand, projecting a decrease in winter demand and an increase in summer demand.

Fisheries and Biodiversity: 

  • Warming surface water temperatures will exacerbate the presence of blue-green algae blooms, potentially impacting commercial fisheries.
  • Geographic range of plants and wildlife is expected to move northward; as species have varying capacity to migrate, losses in ecosystem function are expected.
  • Reduced habitat for endangered species like Woodland Caribou and polar bears.
  • Conditions will become more favorable for some diseases and invasive species, putting more pressure on native species.
  • A longer fall will delay the onset of winter conditions and start of winter recreational activities (e.g. skiing, snowmobiling), while longer, warmer summers may increase opportunities for summer activities (e.g. cottages, camping, boating). These changes have implications for Manitoba’s tourism industry and seasonal businesses.

Health:

  • Populations most at risk are children, the elderly, Indigenous peoples, the poor, the homeless, and people with chronic health conditions.
  • An increased frequency of wildfires may result in increases in respiratory problems.
  • Warmer temperatures will lead to heat-related illnesses and enhance the production of secondary pollutants, including ground level ozone.
  • Climate-sensitive diseases such as Lyme and West Nile are moving northward and already are present in the Prairies; they are expected to continue to expand their range.

People and Communities:

  • Increased cost of operations such as snow removal, street repairs, storm drains and flood protection measures, along with greater disruption of normal municipal functions, particularly during extreme events.
  • Asphalt, concrete and other hard surfaces in the city absorb radiation from the sun, exacerbating heat waves; expect greater pressure on the health care system and on electricity generation and distribution systems.
  • Small communities largely dependent on well water or smaller reservoirs are at greater risk as drought intensifies or increases in frequency.
  • Declines or uncertainties in the availability of moose, caribou, deer and fish will increase Indigenous communities’ dependence on imported foods and could exacerbate existing food insecurities and health concerns.
  • More severe extreme weather events will affect the bottom-lines of insurance companies and may lead to higher insurance premiums or refusal of insurance.
  • Codes, standards and other instruments will have to be adjusted to accommodate changes from historical climate norms, with implications for engineers and planners as part of infrastructure design, operation and maintenance.  

The content for this section draws upon the following sources:

From Impacts to Adaptation: Canada in a Changing Climate (2008) assesses risks and opportunities presented by climate change, and actions being taken to address them, from a regional perspective.

Natural Resources Canada. (2014). Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation. Government of Canada.

Prairie Climate Centre. (2016). Prairie Climate Atlas

Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PRAC). (2008). Climate Change Impacts on Canada’s Prairie Provinces: A Summary of our State of Knowledge. Summary Document. 

IISD. (2007). Climate Change Impacts in Manitoba. Retrieved from https://www.iisd.org/sites/default/files/publications/com_climate_impacts_mb.pdf