UNBC Participates in New Climate Change Institute

UNBC Participates in New Climate Change Institute
January 25, 2008
The Government of British Columbia has announced that it will be seeking to create a $94.5 million Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The Institute will involve BC’s four research-intensive universities in addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change.

“It is in northern regions where the greatest effects of climate change are being felt,” says UNBC President Don Cozzetto. Current data suggests the temperature increase in northern and central BC is about two to three times greater than that experienced in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island over the past 100 years. “This makes UNBC’s involvement in this new institute a natural extension of our mission to focus on the issues of the North. We are already a centre for unique academic programming and research on climate change and other environmental issues that affect the sustainability of communities. This is what makes us Canada’s Green University.”

Some highlights of climate change research and teaching at UNBC:
  • UNBC’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute has 63 members, many of whom are involved with climate change research and teaching.
  • The University has a new minor in Global Environmental Change and programs that focus on climate change. These include majors/streams in such areas as Environmental Engineering, Environmental Planning, Environmental Science, Geography, and Global Environmental Policy. The proportion of students in environmental programs is 20-times the national average.
  • Among UNBC’s Canada Research Chairs are professors who are examining the effects of climate change on snow accumulations at high altitudes and developing numerical models to predict future climate change.
  • UNBC is leading a multi-million dollar research program that is examining the fate of the province's glaciers under various climate change scenarios. Early results indicate that glaciers in the north have been retreating at a faster rate than those in the south.
  • The mountain pine beetle infestation is believed to be one result of warmer winters in north-central BC. UNBC is active in pine beetle research, with projects examining pine beetle genetics, their adaptation to other kinds of trees, dispersal to new areas, and their contribution to climate change. Research is also using tree rings to analyze how trees have been responding to climate change to predict how rising temperatures may affect future forest composition.
  • The University’s Quesnel River Research Centre is actively researching how rising air temperatures are affecting river/lake temperatures, sedimentation, and fish habitat.

“We’re eager to make a difference and government is providing us with the tools to do so,” says Dr. Cozzetto. “The four research-intensive universities in BC can be world leaders in reducing emissions, providing new information through research, and educating future environmental stewards.”

Rob van Adrichem, Director of Media and Public Relations, UNBC – 250.960.5622 
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UNBC professor Scott Green is analyzing tree rings to assess how trees are reponding to climate change.
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