Ecological Impacts of the 2021 Heat Dome
May 25, 2022
The 2021 heat dome was unprecedented in modern times for western North America, meaning that it was exceptionally unlikely. By 2080, the likelihood of a similar event is predicted to be 1-in-6, based on this paper out earlier this month.
PWIAS was pleased to support the Ecological Impacts of the 2021 Heat Dome Symposium and working group in May 2022.
A public event held on May 2 at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum featured talks from students, post-docs, and professors across the marine and terrestrial worlds with a special plenary talk from Dr. Rachel White (Earth, Ocean and Atomospheric Science). Click here for a preprint of the material she presented.
The working group, which met at PWIAS for part of their 5 day event, had 13 participants from UBC, the University of Victoria, the University of Southern California and the University of Alberta.
“The working group is combining very different types of data – from satellite imagery to citizen science platforms to field surveys – to get an overall picture of these impacts. Already we can see that some species and ecosystems were much more impacted than others, and understanding why can help us predict what may happen in future heatwaves,” says Diane Srivastava, 2014 Wall Scholar and Professor in the Department of Zoology & Biodiversity Research Centre at UBC.
“Extreme events like the 2021 heat dome are unfortunately going to become more frequent. These extreme events not only affect our society, but also the natural world that we live in. We can learn a lot about the future ecological impacts of these extreme temperature events by analyzing the effect of last year’s heat dome on species and ecosystems.”
The working group is collectively writing a paper tentatively called “Leveraging the record-breaking 2021 heat dome to advance understanding of ecological responses to extreme heat waves” that looks at heatwaves as a dominant signature of climate change, with impacts on species and ecosystems that can have long-term but poorly understood consequences.
The working group/symposium was funded by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and the Biodiversity Research Centre and organized by the Canadian Institute of Ecology and Evolution (CIEE).