Pacific Climate Model

As global scale climate models are too generalized for regional purposes, a regional model for the British Columbia continental shelf is being developed to provide credible long-term forecasts of oceanographic features such as:

  • upwelling off the western Vancouver Island shelf;
  • the magnitude and frequency of future Haida Eddies;
  • deep water renewal in the Strait of Georgia; and
  • future temperatures and discharges in coastal rivers.

All of these features are relevant to biological productivity along the shelf yet they cannot be accurately predicted using global-scale climate models since they are localized occurrences.

The shelf model used in these British Columbian climate studies was developed by the Centre for Ocean Model Development for Applications (COMDA). The model is based on the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS), has a 3 km resolution, and incorporates atmospheric, freshwater, and oceanic variables.

Changes in precipitation due to climate change are expected to affect the amount and timing of fresh water input into North East Pacific coastal waters. Using discharge time series from coastal rivers with at least 25 year records dating back from 2005, analyses were carried out to determine if the peak discharge was happening earlier and/or if the cumulative flow was becoming larger. Changes to flows and temperatures in the Fraser River may impact the survival of sockeye salmon. Spatial/temporal relationships between precipitation and discharge are being examined so that ungauged coastal rivers can also be included in projections of total runoff onto the BC shelf.

Related Links:

DFO scientists working on Climate Models can be found here.

Pacific Climate Model