London, Ontario’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Kirsten Feifel
Posted on: 4/23/2013 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The City of London, Ontario, is surrounded by dikes and dams. Changing precipitation patterns, including the duration and frequency of events, may occur in a changing climate and compromise the infrastructure that supports the City of London. To better prepare for the adverse impacts of climate change, the city collaborated with the University of Western Ontario’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to assess future precipitation patterns and resulting effects on the city’s infrastructure.


The City of London has a population of 350,000 and is located in the southwest of the Ontario province. Two tributaries of the Thames River meet near the city’s perimeter; to reduce the impacts of flooding from the Thames River, dikes and dams were built in the 1950s. Climate change is expected to increase the city’s vulnerability to flooding as higher and stronger flood waters will likely breach the existing dikes and dams. 


To better prepare for the potential impacts of climate change, the city collaborated with the University of Western Ontario’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to analyze changes in rainfall intensity, duration, and frequency. A final report was released in 2010 – Updated rainfall intensity duration frequency curves for the City of London under the changing climate. Results indicated that the Thames River rainfall intensity and frequency has increased since 1965 and is likely to continue to increase with the onset of climate change. Peak flows for a small storm could increase by 10-15%, while peak flows for a larger storm could increase up to 30% relative to historical norms. 

The analysis concluded that the city should consider developing larger stormwater management facilities and reassess existing flood maps. Under the recommendations from the city’s Department of Environmental and Engineering Services, the city council passed a two-phase strategy to adapt to climate change: 1) conduct a comprehensive engineering and scientific analysis of existing stormwater infrastructure and capacities, and 2) develop a long-term climate change adaptation strategy to protect public and private property from flood damage. 

Outcomes and Conclusions

Phase 1, a comprehensive analysis of existing infrastructure and floodwater capacities, was completed in 2011. The report, The City of London: Vulnerability of Infrastructure to Climate Change, outlines climate-related impacts to critical facilities, water barriers, pollution control plants, buildings, roads, and bridges. The second phase, long-term visioning and adaptation strategy development, should be completed in 2013.


Feifel, K. M. (2012). London, Ontario’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy [Case study on a project of the City of London, Ontario]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated October 2012)

Affiliated Organizations

The City of London is committed to being a leading Canadian municipality in environmental stewardship. The City has staff with expertise in: air quality and climate control, energy conservation, active and sustainable transportation, landscape naturalization, watershed protection, and water conservation. City staff work with a wide range of community members, neighbourhood groups, local businesses, schools, and environmental groups to deliver environmental programs to Londoners.