Barry Smit

Barry Smit

PhD, McMaster University, 1977
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change

Retired, pending emeritus status.

Office: Hutt 126
Tel:519-824-4120 ext. 53279


Integrated human-physical geography, climate change, environment and resource use, global change, impact assessment.

Research Interests and Areas of Expertise

My research explores the vulnerability and adaptations of communities and socio-economic systems to global environmental changes, especially climate change [http://www.uoguelph.ca/gecg/]. This interdisciplinary and applied research has been undertaken in developed and developing countries. My research has also addressed the sustainability of agriculture and agroecosystem health, and the implications of changing conditions for resources and livelihoods. I also have experience with multicriteria evaluation, cumulative effects assessment, and international development. Recent and current projects include:

  • Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of communities in the Arctic in the face of climate and socio-economic conditions (Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Inuvialuit, and the international circumpolar north)
  • Institutional adaptation to stresses associated with climate change related to water resources and use in northern Chile and the Canadian prairies.
  • Adaptive management in Canadian agriculture to risks associated with changes in climate and market, with a focus on the grape and wine sector in British Columbia and Ontario.
  • Impacts and adaptation to climate change in developing countries, with practical initiatives mainstreamed into development activities: Bangladesh, Africa (Kenya, Nigeria), South Pacific (Samoa, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Fiji).

Professional Activities

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Third Assessment Report, 1998-2001, Convening Lead Author; Fourth Assessment Report, Lead Author, 2003-2006; Co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2007
  • International Polar Year (IPY) Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in Arctic Regions (CAVIAR), Co-Director, 2004 –
  • Ontario's Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation, Member, 2007-
  • Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network - Agriculture, Director, 2001– 2007
  • Consultant to various Canadian agencies including the Senate, the Auditor General, Health Canada, Agriculture Canada, IDRC, CIDA, NRCan, EnvCan, Ont. Ministry of Agriculture, Ont. Ministry of Natural Resources, BC Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Advisor to international organizations including UN Environment Program, UN Development Program, FAO, UNFCCC, UK Parliamentary Committee, US Dept of Agriculture, and New Zealand government.

Selected Recent Publications

Young, G., H. Zavala, J. Wandel, B. Smit, S. Salas, E. Jimenez, M. Fiebig, R. Espinoza, H. Diaz and J. Cepeda. 2009. Vulnerability and adaptation in a dryland community of the Elqui Valley, Chile. Climatic Change. In press.

Pearce, T., B. Smit, F. Duerden, J. Ford, A. Goose, and F. Kataoyak. 2009. Inuit vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada. Polar Record, 45(0):1-21.

Pouliotte, J., B. Smit., and L. Westerhoff. 2009. Adaptation and development: livelihoods and climate change in Subarnabad, Bangladesh. Climate and Development, 1:31-46.

Westerhoff, L and B. Smit. 2009. The rains are disappointing us: Dynamic vulnerability and adaptation to multiple stressors in the Afram Plains, Ghana. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 14(4): 317-337.

Wall, E., B. Smit, J. Wandel. 2007. Farming in a Changing Climate: Agricultural Adaptation in Canada.  UBC Press.

Smit, B. 2008. Adaptation in the Arctic. Tiempo 68: 3-6.

Wall, E., B. Smit, J. Wandel. 2007. Farming in a Changing Climate: Agricultural Adaptation in Canada.  UBC Press.

Smit, B. and J. Wandel. 2006. Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 282-292.

Post-Doctoral Fellows Supervised

Carolyn Peach-Brown, Johanna Wandel, James Ford, Robert McLeman, Jackie Dawson, Tristan Pearce

I am taking on no additional graduate students, as retirement is imminent.

Graduate Students Supervised (since 2010)
Program Year Student Title
Masters   McCubbin, Sandra Adaptation to climate change in small island communities of the South Pacific.
Doctoral   Connolly-Boutin, Liette Food security, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa.
Doctoral 2014 Holland, Tara Adaptation to Climatic and Socioeconomic Change in Rural Regions: The Case of the Prince Edward County Wine Sector.
Doctoral 2011 Pearce, Tristan Environmental change, vulnerability and community adaptation in the Arctic.
Masters 2009 Fleming, Laura Vulnerability to environmental change in the Canadian Arctic: Adaptive capacity of Inuit communities.
Masters 2009 Hadarits, Monica The grape and wine industry in Chile and its sensitivity to changing conditions.
Masters 2008 McKenna, Meghan Vulnerability and youth, Nunavut.
Masters 2008 Andrachuk, Mark Building adaptive capacity in an arctic community: learning to deal  with change.
Masters 2008 DeSantis, Ruth Community sustainability, Labrador.
Masters 2008 Westerhoff, Lisa Vulnerability of Ghanaian farming communities to climate change.
Doctoral 2006 Ford, James Vulnerability to climate change in Arctic Canada.
Doctoral 2006 McLeman, Robert Migration as a human adaptation to climate change.
Masters 2006 Pearce, Tristan Vulnerability and adaptation to environmental change in Uluhaktok.
Masters 2006 Young, Gwendolynne Community vulnerability to climate change in the Elqui River Basin, Chile.
Doctoral 2006 Wandel, Johanna Values and motivations in alternative agri-food systems.
Masters 2005 Belliveau, Suzanne Vulnerability of the grape and wine industry in the Okanagan Valley to climate change.
Masters 2005 Pouliotte, Jennifer Environmental change and dynamic vulnerability in Subarnabad Village, Bangladesh.
Masters 2005 Pratley, Erin Changing livelihoods, changing diets: the implications of changes in diet for food security in Arctic Bay, Nunavut.