Climate Change at Chandos

As a recent Nobel Laureate once said, “The times they are a changin”

And in ancient Greece, the philosopher Heraclitus, said something along the lines of “change is the only constant in life”.

Well, there is change we like and change we’re not so fussed about. When it comes to climate, there obviously is great variation throughout the year, and some years are more extreme than others. This cyclical nature year over year changes gradually., but change it does: witness the various ice ages that have been visited upon us. The concern today, of course, is the fact that the planet is warming year over year at an accelerated rate, and climate scientists have evidence that this is anthropogenic (due to the influence of humans).   Climate change is altering Chandos Lake and the surrounding natural environment. Specifics are addressed in the Climate Change Signals tab.

In 2016 The Muskoka Watershed Council published a booklet called “Planning for Climate Change in Muskoka“, which provides an excellent layman’s discussion about how the climate is expected to change by mid century, and what the effects will be on the Muskoka Lakes. 

It addresses how they might try and minimize or exploit these changes.  Many of the conclusions and findings are applicable to Chandos.

Here are just a few summarized remarks;

By mid century the rising mean temperatures of about 3-4 degC will:

  • increase the +30 degC days in the summer.
  • shorten the ice cover period  to about 6-8 weeks.
  • increase the lake water temperatures, which in turn will increase the algae production and the likelihood of algal blooms.  Algae populations will also shift.

The increased water temperatures will severely stress our lake trout.  This will happen because the time between the spring and fall turnovers will lengthen meaning that whatever oxygen is at depth in the spring may drop to below critical levels by the fall.  In addition the thermocline will lower, thereby reducing the volume of cold water available for the trout.

Although there will be more annual precipitation, most of it will be in the winter, with drier summers. The warmer summer weather will mean more evapotranspiration, which will lower lake levels, and increase the risk of forest fires.

Tree species mix will change as our “native” species move north to be replaced by carolinian trees from the south.  The Kawarthas climate will be marginal for White Pine and Sugar Maple;  the White Spruce will migrate to James Bay.

Although we cannot stop climate change, we can do a few things  to at least minimize the local impact.  The Muskoka report talks about these.  In our particular situation,  we might consider restricting (a weir at the culverts?) the outflow from our lake to keep water levels up during the summer. During a hot dry summer, there will be less inflow from precipitation and runoff, as well as significantly higher evaporation rates.
Hot dry summers also increase the risk of forest fires, and preparing for them might be another compensating strategy.  (see the tab  Forest Fire Preparedness)

In March of 2020 the Kawartha Lakes Stewards’ Association published an excellent report on climate change in the Kawarthas. see climate-change-and-the-kawarthas-march-2020.