Conference on climate change concludes with visit to glacier

Posted: October 22, 2012 9:15 a.m.

Storm Warning conference delegates explore Athabasca Glacier.
Storm Warning conference delegates explore Athabasca Glacier. Photo: External Relations

Delegates attending a climate change conference, co-sponsored by the University of Regina, had an opportunity to step back in time. The highlight of Storm Warning: Water, Energy, and Climate Security in a Changing World, was a trip to the Columbia Icefield and a chance to explore the Athabasca Glacier. The U of R hosted the conference in partnership with the United Nations Water for Life Decade in Canada and the University of Texas in Austin October 15-19 in Banff, Alberta.

During the conference, attendees not only toured the glacier, which has receded approximately one kilometre over the past century, they heard about the real costs of adapting to extreme weather events and how they are impacting the insurance industry. David Sauchyn, a U of R geography professor and senior research scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) spoke about the effects of climate on water in Western Canada over the past one-thousand years.

“We should be concerned about the extent to which we are modifying the climate,” said Sauchyn as he trudged on ice 300 metres thick and hundreds of years old.

“We have to recognize that this climate change is ongoing, and that we have to accommodate to the climate change otherwise there are going to be costly impacts to industry, to communities, to agriculture. Just about everything we do.”

The University of Regina also signed an agreement with Xiamen University of Technology (XMUT) to develop the Shen Kuo International Research and Demonstration Centre during the conference. Representatives from XMUT attended the conference along with delegates from North China Electric Power University (NCEPU).

Conference attendees plan to make recommendations regarding research areas for future funding and policies to address climate change to national governments. They also agreed that the next conference will be held in Beijing in 2014.

To view a gallery of photos from the glacier excursion visit: