Saskatoon – Climate change, wildfires and towns built on former lakes all played a major role in flooding in British Columbia, says a climate researcher at Queen’s University.

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“We have really underestimated what needs to be done to reduce future flooding,” said Edward Struzik, a fellow at the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy in Kingston, Ont. A video interview on Tuesday.

He urged engineers to work closely with climate scientists and meteorologists to rethink infrastructure such as bridges, railways and roads to keep climate change in mind.


Failing to do so would mean that the consequences of future floods “are going to get worse before they get better,” he said.

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Struzik, author of “Swamplands: Tundra Beavers, Quaking Bogs and the Impossible World of Peat,” outlines four human impacts that played a role in the recent floods in the province.

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The first involves how humans built cities, farms and towns on top of former lakes, swamps, and barns – all of which naturally absorb more water from larger rainfall.

The second is that atmospheric rivers – defined as long, narrow streams of high water vapor concentration that can provide rapid amounts of rainfall over a short period of time – can fill with increased water due to climate change. As oceans warm, more water evaporates and can enter these Hawaiian rivers.

“Think of it like the Amazon River is up in the air,” Struzik said.

He said forest fires, which are partly driven by climate change, have also played a role because with fewer trees, excess moisture is no longer being absorbed as in centuries ago.

Watch the video above to see how human decisions and climate change played a role in flooding on the West Coast.