Climate Change in Muskoka

Overview of Climate Changes and Their Impacts

In a comprehensive report published in 2016 (Sale et al., 2016) the potential impacts of a changing climate on the terrestrial and aquatic resources as well as the people of Muskoka have been documented and projected into the mid-century. This work has spawned several summaries, fact sheets and workshop  reports in 2017 and 2018 (OCCIAR and OMNRF, 2017; MWC, 2018a; MWC, 2018b and MWC, 2018c). The 2016 study as well as summary documents have been attached as PDFs in this section and are cited below as recommended reading for anyone who wants to better understand how the changes in our climate that have already started have now and will continue to impact our properties and our treasured lakes in future years.

Very briefly, the projected changes in the climate of the Muskoka area by 2050 include:

  • It will be 3-4°C warmer each month, with 7-times more summer days above 30°C and 64% more winter days above freezing;
  • There will be an overall 10% increase in precipitation, and a shift towards 17% more precipitation from late fall to early spring and similar or somewhat less precipitation through summer and early fall;
  • There will be fewer, but more pronounced storm events with precipitation deluges and high winds.

The impacts of these changes in temperature and precipitation are projected to include:

  • Flooding, particularly during winter and spring, is likely to be substantially more severe than at present, especially in colder years when above normal snowpack develops .
  • Increased evaporation and plant transpiration and dryer soils in the summer, resulting in less water available to nourish wetlands, provide stream flow, and keep our lake levels high.
  • Drought and a greater risk of forest loss due to insects and diseases as well as from fires .
  • Lakes will be ice-free for longer (later freeze over and earlier ice melt) , warm up more during the ice-free season and be at greater risk of deteriorating water quality .
  • Algal blooms will be more frequent and there will be changes in the ecology of our lakes and in t he composition of aquatic species.

While many of these changes will have limited impacts on the scenic, recreational or economic value of our lakes and waterfront properties, some may be of major concern more generally throughout Muskoka and locally at specific locations.

While it is difficult to draw statistically significant and irrefutable conclusions regarding climate change impacts on Kahshe and Bass Lakes due to the limited sampling and analysis history and the small sample size, the findings to date have been discussed in the report that is attached.

References Cited and Included as PDF Files (click link to open)

Palmer. M.E., Yan, N.D. & Somers, K.N. 2014. Climate change drives coherent trends in physics and oxygen content in North American lakes. Springer Science+Business Media, Dordrecht. 2014, 16 pages.

Peter Sale, Richard Lammers, Norman Yan, Neil Hutchinson, Kevin Trimble, Paul Dinner, Piret Hurrell, Jan McDonnell, and Scott Young. 2016. Planning for Climate Change in Muskoka. A Report from the Muskoka Watershed Council. Muskoka Watershed Council, Muskoka, Canada, 52 pages.

Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR) and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF). 2017. Workshop Report – A Workshop on Extreme Weather and Waterfront Property. 2017. 38 pages.

Muskoka Watershed Council. 2018a. Report Card on Climate Change in Muskoka. 10 pages. Web-based HTML document converted to Word and saved as PDF.

Muskoka Watershed Council. 2018b. Brochure 1. The New Muskoka Climate. Muskoka, Canada. 1 page.

Muskoka Watershed Council. 2018c. Factsheet 1 – Planning for Climate Change in Muskoka. The New Muskoka Climate. Muskoka, Canada. 2 pages.

Kahshe Lake Ratepayers' Association (1994) Inc. (KLRA)
PO Box 1318, Gravenhurst, ON, Canada, P1P 1V5
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