Climate Change: Current and Future Impacts on Erosive Rainfall in Calgary, Alberta

Presentation Overview:

For the past 15 years, erosive rainfall (R-Value) was assumed to be a constant and has been used, unchanged, by the City of Calgary and consultants as an integral part of construction site soil erosion modeling and approvals.

But what if erosive rainfall is not constant? Has climate change impacted erosive rainfall in Calgary? And if so, has a change in erosive rainfall impacted sediment loss rates from construction sites over the past 15 years?

Research conducted as part of a Master of Science thesis explores how local R-values in the City of Calgary have changed in the past 20 years, increasing by 2.14 times. This underestimation of R-values has the potential to cause a quantifiable, estimated impact on sediment loading to municipal storm ponds and the Bow River

Future climate change scenarios show that this trend is expected to continue over the next 100 years, impacting the way ESC measures are proposed and implemented on sites.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how the R-value used by the City of Calgary and published by Agriculture-Agrifood Canada is no longer accurate for the specific location studied in the City of Calgary.
  • Understand why the R-value for the City of Calgary is expected to increases due to climate change over the next 100 years.
  • Learn how the reliance on an outdated R-value could have quantifiable, estimated impacts on local infrastructure and watersheds, and how this impact is expected to continue into the future based on climate change predictions.


Ben Ethier, City of Calgary

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