Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
November 26, 2001
U of G part of new climate network
Winter parkas are only just beginning to emerge from storage closets across southern Ontario because we've enjoyed a welcome relief from last year's early - and bitterly long - winter. But this variation in temperature is par for the course, say University of Guelph researchers who overseeing part of a new national climate change research network.
Environmental Sciences professor Ellen Wall and geography professor Barry Smit are collaborating with other Guelph researchers to create the agricultural research node of the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN). It will promote information exchange and facilitate research on climate change adaptation in Canada's agricultural sector. The initiative includes six regional research nodes and seven sectoral nodes across Canada, with Guelph hosting the agricultural research node.
Wall and Smit say that Canada's agri-food sector is vulnerable to risks associated with variations in climate change. Programs, management strategies and technological innovations are needed to respond and adapt to these issues, they said. The goal is to co-ordinate research and knowledge about climate change and adaptation measures among Canadian researchers, government and stakeholders. "C-CIARN looks at the issue of climate change as it relates to agriculture and encourages adaptation research so that we're not so vulnerable," Wall said.
Smit added that one of the major challenges is trying to get producer organizations and the public to see climate change as an immediate issue as well as a long-term problem and to connect climate change issues with the challenges of agriculture. "Climate change is often thought of as only global warming, referring to long-term changes in average temperature," he said. "But climate change is also the frequency and severity of droughts, and these have immediate and serious consequences for producers, the agri-food sector and safety net programs. Although the gradual changes in climate may be difficult to identify, sharing information on adaptation strategies to deal with drought makes a lot of sense."
Guelph's contribution will include developing a searchable database and Web site for bibliographic material and reports on current and completed research projects. It will highlight news and coming events and will provide a forum for discussion among those interested in key questions surrounding agricultural adaptation to climate change. The Web site and database will be available by March 2002.
Prof. Ellen Wall Prof. Barry Smit
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