Dylan Clark returns from Arivat, Nunavut

2017 June 19

Dylan Clark recently returned from a month long trip to Arviat, Nunavut. Arviat, is one of the many Arctic communities that the Climate Change Adaptation Research Group has been working in for a number of years. Past students have examined food security, the integration of community input into infrastructure planning, and search and rescue in and around the community. Dylan has been working in Arviat for the past two years to better understand emergency management systems, and develop community-based solutions to improve resiliency and build tools for emergency response.

Over the past month, Dylan was working with community members and search and rescue volunteers to explore how UAVs, or drones, can be used in Arctic communities for hazard identification and emergency response. This project is funded largely by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research team grant ‘Transforming primary healthcare in remote northern communities’.

and for updates!

Dylan and team practiced flying the UAV at low altitudes to map terrain and practice spotting targets. All flights were adherent to Transport Canada UAV regulations.

Dylan and team practiced flying the UAV at low altitudes to map terrain and practice spotting targets. All flights were adherent to Transport Canada UAV regulations.

Dylan Clark outside Arviat, Nunavut

Dylan Clark outside Arviat, Nunavut

Climate change adaptation in the Sahel

2017 June 14

Epule T.E., Ford, J.D., Lwasab S., Lepage, L. (2017) Climate change adaptation in the Sahel. Environmental Science & Policy, 75, 121-137.


Climate change adaptation now occupies central stage on the agenda of most environmental initiatives in Africa. Our current understanding on the state of adaptation is limited, however, both globally and in Africa in particular. This study examines the status of adaptation in the Sahel by reviewing the primary peer review literature that reports concrete climate change adaptation actions. Based on an analysis of 70 peer review papers that document 414 discrete adaptations, we create a snap shot of adaptations developed between 1975 and 2015, and also calculate the percentages of adaptation. The results show that from a country to country perspective, Kenya has the highest number of reported adaptation actions (75 or 18.1%). The percentages indicate that the adaptive capacity of the entire study area is generally low for all the countries being that the highest country-level percentage is recorded in Kenya and it is 18%. Regionally, West Africa has more adaptation actions (261 or 63%) when compared to other regions of the Sahel. Regional level percentages suggest a higher level of adaptation at the regional level being that the percentage falls within the high scale range. The most commonly used adaptation actions reported are income diversification and water harnessing respectively. When categorized, technically related adaptation actions dominate the adaptation charts. The decade 2008–2016 recorded the highest number of adaptations (65.2%). Adaptation actions are also reported to be triggered by climatic and non-climatic drivers which both record high frequencies but the climatic drivers (98%) of adaptation are slightly dominant relative to the non-climatic drivers (95%). These results should be viewed as proxies of climate change adaptation as much information may be found in grey literature and non-peer review national communications which are left out here because of their relative low standardization and acceptability due to the absence of peer review.

Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment

2017 May 25

Fawcett, D., Pearce, T., Ford, J.D., Archer, L. (2017) Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment. Global Environmental Change, 45, 79-88.


The past decade has seen a proliferation of community-scale climate change vulnerability assessments globally. Much of this work has employed frameworks informed by scholarship in the vulnerability field, which draws upon interviews with community members to identify and characterize climatic risks and adaptive responses. This scholarship has developed a baseline understanding of vulnerability in specific places and industries at particular times. However, given the dynamic nature of vulnerability new methodologies are needed to generate insights on how climate change is experienced and responded to over time. Longitudinal approaches have long been used in sociology and the health sciences to capture the dynamism of human processes, but their penetration into vulnerability research has been limited. In this article, we describe the application of two longitudinal approaches, cohort and trend studies, in climate change vulnerability assessment by analyzing three case studies from the Arctic where the authors applied these approaches. These case studies highlight how longitudinal approaches can be operationalized to capture the dynamism of vulnerability by identifying climate anomalies and trends, and how adaptations develop over time, including insights on themes such as social learning and adaptive pathways.

Stephanie Austin at the ‘Adapting to Climate Change’ Workshop at the University of Notre Dame

2017 May 3


From April 28 to 30, 2017, Stephanie participated in the ‘Adapting to Climate Change: Actions, Implementations, and Outcomes’ workshop at the University of Notre Dame, hosted by Dr. Debra Javeline (University of Notre Dame), Dr. Aseem Prakash (University of Washington) and Dr. Nives Dolsak (University of Washington). The workshop featured cutting edge research on climate change adaptation from a wide range of disciplines including geography, political science, law, management, architecture, engineering and environment. Stephanie presented the first paper from her Master’s thesis, titled ‘Public Health Adaptation to Climate Change in the Federalist States of Canada and Germany.’

Projections of maize yield vulnerability to droughts and adaptation options in Uganda

2017 April 17

Epule, T.E., Ford, J.D., Lwasa, S. (2017). Projections of maize yield vulnerability to droughts and adaptation options in Uganda. Land Use Policy. 65: 154-163. Doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.04.013


Sub-Saharan Africa is likely going to experience more intense and frequent droughts with high parallel possibilities of ramifications on maize yields. While there is a lot of scholarship dwelling on the ramifications of droughts on maize yields at the level of Africa, little has been researched at lower scales. This study presents past (1960–2014) vulnerability of maize yields to droughts based on a previous study (Epule et al., 2017) and projects the future vulnerability of maize yields to droughts by calculating the sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity of maize yields to droughts for the period 2015–2050. The results show that maize yields are more vulnerable in the north of Uganda for the period 1960–2014. However, adaptive capacity is higher in the south. Maize yields also record higher levels of sensitivity and exposure in the north with the latter patterns explained by variations in precipitation, temperature, rich volcanic soils, access to rivers and lakes. In terms of future vulnerability for the period 2015–2050, this study shows that the level of vulnerability of maize yields to droughts in Uganda will increase to levels higher than what currently obtains. For example, the vulnerability index will increase from 0.54 under the 1.5 °C to 0.70 under the 2.0 °C and to 1.54 under the 2.5 °C scenario. Sensitivity is also likely to increase while exposure and adaptive capacity are most likely to remain the same. Overall, it can be said that the future of maize production in Uganda under present and future circumstances remains very bleak without concrete actions. As a way forward, land use policy designers will have to integrate water management, agroforestry, climatic information diffusion, training and indigenous knowledge into land use planning decisions in the context of agriculture.

Social–ecological change and implications for food security in Funafuti, Tuvalu

2017 March 31

McCubbin, S.G., Pearce, T., Ford, J.D., Smit, B. (2017) Social–ecological change and implications for food security in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Ecology and Society. 22(1):53. DOI:10.5751/ES-09129-220153


This article examines food security in Funafuti, Tuvalu in the context of recent social–ecological changes. We consider both social and ecological processes in order to provide a holistic account of food security. An analysis of data collected through a fixed-question survey and freelists with 50 households and semistructured interviews with 25 key informants reveal that access to food of sufficient nutritional and cultural value is the primary driver affecting food security, more so than general food availability. Ten percent of the households surveyed experienced a shortage of food in the previous month, and 52% ate less desirable imported foods, which tended to be nutrient poor because they could not access preferred local foods. Factors and processes affecting access to local foods include: availability of and access to land; declining involvement in local food production; the convenience of imported foods; unreliable interisland shipping; and climate and environmental changes that have negatively affected food security and are expected to continue to do so.

Dylan Clark and @ccadapt receive National Geographic Young Explorer Grant

2017 March 29
Dylan testing UAV capacities near Arviat, NU

Dylan testing UAV capacities near Arviat, NU

Dylan Clark and the CCAdapt team have received a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant! The grant will fund a project to examine how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in combination with traditional land knowledge may improve search and rescue capacity and hazard identification in Arctic communities. The research is also being funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Community-Based Primary Health Care team grant. Dylan Clark finished his MSc with the lab in September with a focus on search and rescue and injury in Nunavut. He is now working on various projects with the group. This is Dylan’s second Young Explorer grant, and the teams 4th National Geographic grant awarded.

Follow the project:

Grand Challenges in Understanding the Interplay of Climate and Land Changes

2017 March 28

Liu, S., Bond-Lamberty, B., Boysen, L.R., Ford, J.D., Fox, A., Gallo, K., Hatfield, J., Henebry, G.M., Huntington, T.G., Liu, Z., Loveland, T.R., Norby, R.J., Sohl, T., Steiner, A.L., Yuan, W., Zhang, Z., Zhao, S. (2017) Grand Challenges in Understanding the Interplay of Climate and Land Changes. Earth Interactions. 21(2): 1-43. DOI: 10.1175/EI-D-16-0012.1


Half of Earth’s land surface has been altered by human activities, creating various consequences on the climate and weather systems at local to global scales, which in turn affect a myriad of land surface processes and the adaptation behaviors. This study reviews the status and major knowledge gaps in the interactions of land and atmospheric changes and present 11 grand challenge areas for the scientific research and adaptation community in the coming decade. These land-cover and land-use change (LCLUC)-related areas include 1) impacts on weather and climate, 2) carbon and other biogeochemical cycles, 3) biospheric emissions, 4) the water cycle, 5) agriculture, 6) urbanization, 7) acclimation of biogeochemical processes to climate change, 8) plant migration, 9) land-use projections, 10) model and data uncertainties, and, finally, 11) adaptation strategies. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effects of LCLUC on local to global climate and weather systems, but these putative effects vary greatly in magnitude and even sign across space, time, and scale and thus remain highly uncertain. At the same time, many challenges exist toward improved understanding of the consequences of atmospheric and climate change on land process dynamics and services. Future effort must improve the understanding of the scale-dependent, multifaceted perturbations and feedbacks between land and climate changes in both reality and models. To this end, one critical cross-disciplinary need is to systematically quantify and better understand measurement and model uncertainties. Finally, LCLUC mitigation and adaptation assessments must be strengthened to identify implementation barriers, evaluate and prioritize opportunities, and examine how decision-making processes work in specific contexts.

How does the media portray drinking water security in Indigenous communities in Canada? An analysis of Canadian newspaper coverage from 2000-2015

2017 March 28

Lam, S., Cunsolo, A., Sawatzky, A., Ford, J., Harper, S.L. (2017). How does the media portray drinking water security in Indigenous communities in Canada? An analysis of Canadian newspaper coverage from 2000-2015. BMC Public Health . 17:282 DOI 10.1186/s12889-017-4164-4.


Background: Drinking water insecurity and related health outcomes often disproportionately impact Indigenous communities internationally. Understanding media coverage of these water-related issues can provide insight into the ways in which public perceptions are shaped, with potential implications for decision-making and action. This study aimed to examine the extent, range, and nature of newspaper coverage of drinking water security in Canadian Indigenous communities.

Methods: Using ProQuest database, we systematically searched for and screened newspaper articles published from 2000 to 2015 from Canadian newspapers: Wind speaker , Toronto Star , The Globe and Mail, and National Post. We conducted descriptive quantitative analysis and thematic qualitative analysis on relevant articles to characterize framing and trends in coverage.

Results: A total of 1382 articles were returned in the search, of which 256 articles were identified as relevant. There was limited coverage of water challenges for Canadian Indigenous communities, especially for Métis (5%) and Inuit(3%) communities. Most stories focused on government responses to water-related issues, and less often covered preventative measures such as source water protection. Overall, Indigenous peoples were quoted the most often.Double-standards of water quality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, along with conflict and cooperation efforts between stakeholders were emphasized in many articles.

Conclusion: Limited media coverage could undermine public and stakeholder interest in addressing water-related issues faced by many Canadian Indigenous communities.

Keywords: Canada, Drinking water, Water security, First Nation, Indigenous, Inuit, Métis, Media, Newspaper,Systematic review

@ccadapt article included in the exclusive ‘Highlights of 2016’ collection of Environmental Research Letters

2017 March 19

@ccadapt article entitled “Community-level climate change vulnerability research: trends, progress, and future directions” by Graham McDowell, James Ford and Julie Jones has been selected by the editors of Environmental Research Letters for inclusion in the exclusive ‘Highlights of 2016’ collection.

Papers are chosen on the basis of referee endorsement, originality, scientific impact and breadth of appeal.

Read the ERL 2016 Highlight here.

@ccadapt involved in IPCC special report on the impacts of 1.5C of warming

2017 March 9

Dr James Ford was in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, last week participating in the first lead author meeting for the IPCC SR on 1.5C. The assessment responds to a request by Parties to the UNFCCC to examine what 1.5C means globally and examine policy options, costs, and feasibility. The aim of the meeting was to develop a zero order draft outline for the assessment, with Dr Ford involved as a lead author on the chapter for strengthening the response to climate change.

It’s now official …… @ccadapt’s Dr James Ford is moving to the University of Leeds

2017 March 9

After 11 years at McGill, @ccadapt lead Dr James Ford is leaving McGill to take up a positon as professor and Chair in Climate Adaptation at the new Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds. @ccadapt will continue, albeit in a different form from Leeds, and the during the transition many team members will remain at McGill, where Dr Ford will maintain an adjunct status. The move is an exciting opportunity for @ccadapt to plug into new research networks, and further advance our work on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. For more info click here.

Dr. Epule at the 6th World Sustainability Forum

2017 March 3




capetown2From January 27 to 28th 2017, Dr. Epule traveled to Cape Town South Africa to attend and present a new paper titled: ‘’Vulnerability of maize yields to droughts in Uganda’’. The conference was a great networking and knowledge sharing opportunity. The paper that was presented has just recently been published in (Water 2017, 9(3), 181; Doi: 10.3390/w903018) and has as co-authors Dr. Epule, Prof. Ford, Prof. Lwasa and Prof. Lepage.

Vulnerability of Maize Yields to Droughts in Uganda

2017 March 3

Epule, T.E., Ford, J.D., Lwasa, S., Lepage, L. (2017). Vulnerability of maize yields to droughts in Uganda. Water 2017, 9(3), 181; Doi: 10.3390/w9030181.


Climate projections in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) forecast an increase in the intensity and frequency of droughts with implications for maize production. While studies have examined how maize might be affected at the continental level, there have been few national or sub-national studies of vulnerability. We develop a vulnerability index that combines sensitivity, exposure and adaptive capacity and that integrates agroecological, climatic and socio-economic variables to evaluate the national and spatial pattern of maize yield vulnerability to droughts in Uganda. The results show that maize yields in the north of Uganda are more vulnerable to droughts than in the south and nationally. Adaptive capacity is higher in the south of the country than in the north. Maize yields also record higher levels of sensitivity and exposure in the north of Uganda than in the south. Latitudinally, it is observed that maize yields in Uganda tend to record higher levels of vulnerability, exposure and sensitivity towards higher latitudes, while in contrast, the adaptive capacity of maize yields is higher towards the lower latitudes. In addition to lower precipitation levels in the north of the country, these observations can also be explained by poor soil quality in most of the north and socio-economic proxies, such as, higher poverty and lower literacy rates in the north of Uganda.

Dr. Epule was in Uganda to organize workshops in Karamoja, North East Uganda (Moroto and Rupa) and a research partnership meeting at Makerere University

2017 March 3



Between January 11th and 19th 2017, Dr. Epule traveled to Uganda. His first stop was at Makerere University Kampala where on the 12th and 13th of January he met with members of the ‘’Research Innovations Lab’’ led by Dr. Shuaib Lwasa. Worship topics discussed included: techniques of conduction research among native people in Karamoja and logistics. From the 14th to the 16th of January, Dr. Epule was accompanied by two members of the ‘’Research Innovations Lab’’ to Karamoja (Moroto and Rupa) where three workshops and a plenary were organized. The workshops that were very successful in Rupa sub-county had the following parallel sessions: a group of 10 agro-pastoralists women, a group of 10 agro-pastoralists men and a mixed group of 5 men and 5 women. The themes discussed included: 1.) Indigenous climate change adaptation options 2.) Barriers to climate change adaptations 3.) Reactive and proactive climate change adaptations and 4.) Perceptions of current and past climate change as revealed by temperature and precipitation changes.