New climatology team studying climate change on P.E.I.

Nigel Armstrong
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Adam Fenech leads group looking at coastal erosion, among other issues

Robert Gilmour, left, vice-president of research at UPEI welcomes Adam Fenech, UPEI climate lab director as guest speaker Tuesday for a monthly program called Research on Tap.

A climatologist recently hired at UPEI is leading a team looking at climate change and its effects on the Island.

Adam Fenech, UPEI climate lab director was guest speaker Tuesday at a monthly program sponsored by the university called Research on Tap.

He was formerly with Environment Canada but now leads a team of seven people doing research about P.E.I.

“I spend most of my research trying to link the global climate models to local decision making,” said Fenech.

He and one other climatologist work on the team that was created in March this year.

“Our mandate is to conduct research to help the Island adapt to climate change and also get a handle on what is going on with temperature and precipitation and get an understanding of what the future impacts might be on the Island,” said Fenech.

“Coastal erosion is one of the big issues and how things like the growing seasons might be changing, how it might affect tourism. We have already engaged in a  lot of work with that already.”

The group just received approval from Natural Resources Canada for a study of risk zones for coastal erosion. The first phase will use historical data of erosion rates. When that study is completed in about one year, then work will begin on how the zones change when global warming models are applied.

“It is looking at the risk of coastal residences and infrastructure like roads and bridges and heritage like graveyards or lighthouses, that sort of thing,” said Fenech. “We will be doing an evaluation of what is under a high, medium or low risk.”

Under global warming models into the future, the results “might start scaring people,” he said.

Existing models show global warming’s possible affect on P.E.I.

“It follows the current trend it is on right now, which is warmer and drier,” said Fenech. “Some of the trends are varied on a monthly basis. We tend to be getting, at the moment, drier periods in the spring, during the growing season, and wetter periods during July and August which is our tourist season. That is what the trends are telling us over the last 30 years.”

The fact P.E.I. didn’t follow that trend this year reflects the up-and-down nature of climate, said Fenech. It is the 30-year-average that offers the best view of trends, he said.

In 100 years the average temperature on P.E.I. is expected to rise four more degrees to make our climate similar to what Boston has now, he said.


Organizations: Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada

Geographic location: Boston

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Recent comments

  • Graduate
    November 08, 2012 - 12:19

    A lot of you seem to be confusing the terms climate and weather. Weather is definitely unpredictable on PEI at most times, and this includes your day to day forecast in very specific regions. Climate is conditions studied and witnessed over longer periods of time in a more generalized region. The ideal time period to utilize data in regards to climate change is approximately 30 years. The data collected helps determine the effects climate can have on a region, such as prolonged drought, coastal erosion, sea-levels, agriculture, average temperatures, etc. As the climate changes, we need to know these things to be able to adapt and survive. This will allow Prince Edward Island to be aware of coming changes, be able to adapt to these through mitigation techniques to slow the effects we're expecting to suffer from. It will help us produce technologies to conserve and prosper life on the island; from mitigation to reduce coastal erosion, improvements on infrastructures for coming climatic changes, and to prepare our agriculture for less productive seasons. Climate research has improved greatly with new techologies and methods over the last few years. We've been able to predict much more about the climate and it's effects on weather in regions. This is an extremely good thing to be happening for PEI. It's incredible that we finally have a climate research team who are putting their time, effort, and knowledge into preparing us for what's to come.

  • Sylvia
    November 08, 2012 - 09:06

    I'm not a scientist or a weather expert, just a person who's very interested in climate change and how it affects the environment. I'm an older senior, have lived in P.E.I. most of my life. I have never seen a summer like the one this year and it's apparent the climate is going through some major changes. One thing I wouldn't do is buy property near the water. Erosion is definitely a problem and it's going to become more of a problem each year.

  • Carolyn
    November 08, 2012 - 08:05

    You can tell us all you want about what the weather will be but remember it's GOD who has full control of the world and if you read the Bible things are closeing in on the last days, please be ready.

    • Townie
      November 08, 2012 - 08:57

      The bible also says that no man knows or can know when the last day is, so there is no way that you can say we are closing in on it. It could happen today or it could happen a million years from now. Only God knows when.

  • tim tonkin
    November 07, 2012 - 19:35

    Good one Spud .

  • Sybil Humphries
    November 07, 2012 - 19:34


  • Square Flag
    November 07, 2012 - 16:26

    Since climate change has been largely attributed to a cow's flatulence, might PEI expect a disproportionate degree of symptoms? Might want to add an astronomer to the team.

  • spud
    November 07, 2012 - 15:38

    Tim. Would that be windy with the odd wet flurie!!!!!!

  • Brady
    November 07, 2012 - 14:45

    Great, nothing like wasting our taxes on some more "science" that has been proven over and over again to be suspect, at best! maybe that money could be used for something that might actually help our province, like how to grow better grass for our golf courses.

    • Anon
      November 08, 2012 - 08:23

      You are breathtakingly stupid.

  • tim
    November 07, 2012 - 14:36

    they can predict the weather as good as my arse.

    • intobed
      November 07, 2012 - 17:06

      Expecting really crappy weather this winter, eh Tim?