CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

Heat and Drought

Climate change is affecting the frequency, duration and intensity of extreme heat and droughts. Extreme hot temperatures will become more frequent and more intense as a result of climate change. This will increase the severity of heatwaves and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks.

Extreme heat can cause severe health risks, including illnesses such as heat stroke and even death. Built up areas, such as the downtowns in our cities are especially prone to creating heat islands where extreme temperatures can be especially hazardous.

Droughts are projected to increase in frequency, intensity and area with a changing climate and increasingly severe impacts. Society, the economy and environment depend on a sufficient supply of water, which can be seriously threatened by drought. Droughts can cause significant damage, especially to sensitive sectors such as agriculture. New practices can help prepare for a new climate reality; for example, agricultural operations can be made more resilient to heat and drought, and schedules can be changed for outside workers who are experiencing more frequent heat waves. There are crops that are more resistant and resilient to drought, and different adaptation measures that can help prevent worst case scenarios.

Drought is a very difficult hazard to deal with. Dry conditions can persist over a long period, even years, and intensify over large areas. This makes adaptation difficult and costly or perhaps even impossible. Although many strategies can be used to adapt to a drought, it can be challenging during intense, long periods and adaptation requires high degrees of innovation and cost. Agricultural adaptation can include better monitoring (e.g., using the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index), preparations, warnings, forecasting, advanced climate-smart agriculture, and best management practices.