Metro Vancouver’s air quality management programs have resulted in improvements in regional air quality, however wildfire smoke and ozone advisories in the summer of 2021 indicate that climate change is presenting new challenges for air quality management in Metro Vancouver.
A record-breaking heatwave in late June exceeded some climate projections for the region, resulted in unusually high ozone levels and caused an early start to an extremely active wildfire season in B.C. The province experienced an above average number of wildfires and area burned this summer, which produced considerable smoke across British Columbia, some of which was blown into our region.
During the summer of 2021, Metro Vancouver issued four air quality advisories that were in effect for a total of 10 days.
Our region has been impacted by wildfire smoke in five of the previous seven summers. Climate projections indicate the future holds an increased risk of wildfire activity due to warmer temperatures, smaller snowpack and lower precipitation during the summer. These projections will lead to longer wildfire seasons and an increased likelihood that extreme heatwaves will become more common.