Banner Photo: Climate activist, Greta Thunberg, speaking at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, January 2019. (Credit: Flickr)


In recent years, societal awareness of climate change and its pervasiveness has increased dramatically. Harnessing that awareness and turning it into positive action to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions is going to give our planet – and our oceans – its best fighting chance.

Globally and locally, we are seeing direct impacts through rising sea levels, warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, changing stream flows, more intense storms, wildfires, droughts and floods. In addition, we are also seeing indirect impacts, e.g., storms destroying eelgrass beds; salmon and forage fish spawning habitat lost to coastal squeeze or washed away by floods, resulting in low numbers for some species; the persistence of sea star wasting disease with warming water temperatures.

Encouragingly, communities and citizen science groups are becoming even more determined to protect species, habitats, and human communities in the face of climate change. Notwithstanding this positive movement, further actions are essential to protect our communities, oceans, and our planet. Recommended actions aimed at all levels of society, from the individual through to federal government, are provided.

You must unite behind the science. You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never be an option.” – Greta Thunberg 

Ocean Watch Rating Legend

Ratings are meant to provide the reader with a visual snapshot summary about the subject.  Subject ratings were assigned based on application of the criteria to the information in each article.

1) The status is healthy according to available data, 2) the trend is positive if known, 3) some data are available, and/or 4) actions to address or mitigate are well underway and are known to be effective. Actions should be taken to maintain positive status and/or trend.

Status, trend, data, and/or actions provide contradictory or inconclusive information. Actions are needed to move into positive status and trend and avoid negative status and trend.

1) Impacts or issues are high risk or have resulted in a low or vulnerable status, 2) improvements are uncertain, minor, or slow, and/or 3) actions to address or mitigate are non-existent, vague, or have low effectiveness. Actions are needed to move into positive status and trend.

Not rated due to the nature of the article, or there are not enough data to produce an assessment.

Climate Change and Oceanography Ratings

Article & 2020 Rating Rationale

2017 Rating

2020 Rating

Climate Change NEW

Climate change is a global issue, not just specific to Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. The problems facing the Sound are complex and multi-faceted. Globally, there is limited progress to reduce drivers of climate change.

Zero Carbon Communities NEW

Canada is one of the 10 countries responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Not enough is being done to reduce these emissions nationally, or globally. Transforming communities to zero carbon emissions is necessary.

Ocean Warming

Globally, record-breaking temperatures continue to occur, which directly impacts ocean temperatures. Ocean warming is causing ecosystem-wide changes. Data specific to Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound is limited.

Ocean Acidification NEW

Ocean acidification has direct impacts on marine species and habitats. A lack of data exists for Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound, although monitoring is being implemented to address this gap.

Shoreline Erosion/Sea Level Rise

Sea level rise and storm surges will continue to negatively impact shorelines in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound; however, the degree of impact will vary depending on location in the Sound.

Stream Flows

Large interannual variations are observed. A shift in timing of peak flows will have effects on other species.

Squamish Flood Planning

Significant progress has been made on the recommended actions from the 2017 report; however, there is still considerable work to be done, and that relies on funding and implementation continuing.

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