Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada moves on effect of climate change on Northern infrastructure

January 20, 2015

SCC and CSA issue two standards to help manage impacts of climate change on infrastructure and buildings in Canada's North. Federal government commissions studies of effects on three airports.

The federal government is commissioning a study to look at the effects of climate change on three airports in Canada’s North. The study will take a year and will look at three airports, in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories; Cambridge Bay in Nunavut; and Churchill in Manitoba.
The study, advertised January 14, will look at the impact of thawing permafrost and the impacts of extreme climatic effects on infrastructure, looking as far ahead as 2060. The studies will be based on methods developed by Engineers Canada.
A week earlier, on January 8, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and CSA Group published two new standards that it says will “help manage increased risk to Northern infrastructure under a changing climate.”
SCC and CSA say the standards are from a suite of standards being developed for Canada’s North. According to their press release, “The impact of climate change in the North is a key priority for the Government of Canada.”
CAN/CSA-S501-14 Moderating the effects of permafrost degradation on existing foundations standard outlines the steps to be taken in order to maintain, assess and mitigate permafrost loss beneath and adjacent to existing buildings. Permafrost is soil and sediment that remains at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years, while the active layer is the upper part of the soil environment that thaws every summer. Many of the existing buildings in the North were designed without considering climate change or were not adequately designed to account for the rate and extent of permafrost degradation currently projected.
CAN/CSA-S502-14 Managing changing snow load risks for buildings in Canada’s North relates to safe snow removal methods for rooftops. Arctic regions have seen an increase in snowfall and extreme snow events. Adding to this issue is the occurrence of rain after a snowfall, which turns to ice and increases the weight or load of snow on buildings and housing.
To read the SCC/CSA press release, click here.



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