winding river

Climate change impacts on the Yukon

Frequent extreme events 

Floods and wildfires threaten the health and safety of humans and wildlife and destroy homes and ecosystems.

Permafrost thaw

This damages roads and infrastructure. It also changes landscapes and ecosystems.

Changes to snow, water and ice 

These changes affect river flow, water temperatures, aquatic health and biodiversity. 

Changes to weather, vegetation and wildlife

These changes have:

  • negative impacts on different species;
  • change wildlife distribution and biodiversity; 
  • reduce access to country foods;
  • affect food security; and 
  • reduce our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. 

Why is it so bad if the world is getting warmer? 

The climate is an interconnected system. When the climate starts to change, it affects all aspects of our lives. We organize our lives based on what we know about our climate. We

  • grow our food outdoors in the summer because the temperature and sunlight create the best conditions for growing; 
  • hunt in areas where we know animals frequent and at times of the year when they are exploring open areas; and
  • build infrastructure like roads and buildings to withstand the climate conditions we’ve come to know and understand. 

A warming climate impacts average temperatures and weather patterns. This disrupts the ways we live our lives and causes harmful impacts. 

How does climate change create extreme events?

A small plane parked at an air tanker base with a forest fire burning in the background and smoke almost blocking out the sky.
Changes to our planet's energy balance

Our atmosphere has some greenhouse gases in it, and some of our activities add more gases. More greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere disrupt our planet's natural energy balance and trap heat on our planet. The excess heat is distributed throughout our planet, oceans and atmosphere, for example: 

  • warming in the arctic can affect the westerly winds of the polar jet stream and increase the likelihood of extreme events; and 
  • a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture which can result in more frequent and intense rain and snow events. 
Changes in temperature and the water cycle 

This can lead to less predictable weather patterns and extreme weather across the world. 

More flooding and drought 

Some regions will experience more precipitation, while other regions may experience more drought and extreme heat.

More wildfires

Higher temperatures and drier conditions create conditions for wildfires. We see drier fuel sources when moisture evaporates more quickly into the atmosphere. Drier fuel sources drive wildfires. 

A bird's eye view of a road with burned forests on either side

Adapting to climate change impacts

Climate change is warming the Yukon at twice the rate as compared to the rest of Canada and the world. This means we'll feel the impacts of climate change earlier and more intensely than other parts of the world. We're adapting to the impacts of climate change and building our climate resilience. In 2022, we completed the first Climate Risk Assessment for the Yukon. It identified priority areas for focusing our efforts, including:

  • transportation infrastructure;
  • floods and fires;
  • permafrost thaw;
  • ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • changing conditions on the land;
  • health and wellbeing; and  
  • economy and livelihoods.  

The Yukon has a long history of adapting to harsh conditions. Our Climate Risk Assessment showed the Yukon is resilient. This stems from our:

  • strong relationships; 
  • sense of self-sufficiency; 
  • connection to the land; and 
  • the ability to make the most of what we have.

Each of us can play a part to help build climate resilience: 

  • individuals; 
  • communities; 
  • municipalities; 
  • Indigenous governments; 
  • territorial and federal governments; 
  • non-governmental organizations; and 
  • the private sector. 

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