The Gleaner
Agriculture

The maple and forestry sector in 2050: Agriclimat

According to Agriclimat’s research, spring in the Montérégie in 2050 will start earlier, lengthening the tree-growing season. Since there will also most likely be less snow on the ground, the winter melt will happen faster. However, it will rain slightly more during the months of March, April and May. With higher temperatures all around, it should be possible to start forestry work earlier, except in particularly rainy years.

The Montérégie is no stranger to extreme weather events such as ice, hail, and high winds. These events can have a significant impact on production. Unfortunately, predicting the future frequency of such things isn’t easy for climatologists, because there are many different types of events and not as much data available.

Using data from the past as well as climate models, Ouranos climatologists, who collaborated with Agriclimat on this project, predict more heat and extreme heat episodes, and fewer waves of extreme cold. There is also the possibility of episodes of intense precipitation in the form localized thunderstorms. Although the risks of hail have not been studied, we know that stormy formations will be more intense and frequent, but it is impossible at this stage to confidently predict whether there will be more hail.

The winter forestry period will be shortened because the soil will freeze for less time. Currently we have about four months of snowfall, and that will be reduced to three months. By 2050, heat waves will be more frequent due to higher summer temperatures. However, with summer precipitation staying similar to today, the risk of drought will be higher.

There will also be higher risks of windthrow on the borders of wooded areas, as well as of higher tree mortality for species less suited to dry conditions, particularly in already dry areas.

There will be less risk of bud freeze, since the cold extremes will be less frequent; however, the freeze/thaw episodes will be more frequent in the middle of winter. The effect of climate change will be felt by the advance of the beginning of tapping season. The maple flow will start and end earlier, maintaining a similar duration.

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