By Teah Lizee and Ryan Smith
Canada’s climate is warming at an alarming rate, twice as fast as the global average and even faster in the North. The consequences of this warming trend are already evident across the country in the form of thawing permafrost, rising sea levels, heat waves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events. Climate change is increasing risks because it increases the frequency and intensity of these types of events. These impacts present significant risks to Canadians, the environment, and the economy. To mitigate these risks, it is therefore essential to first understand the scale of future climate change.
How does this initiative contribute to understanding risk in Canada?
This is where ClimateData.ca comes in. It provides decision-makers with a comprehensive understanding of how a changing global climate will manifest itself here in Canada. The website features an array of innovative tools and features that enable users to access, analyze and customize climate data in ways that were not possible before. For example, the Analysis page allows users to set specific thresholds like the number of days exceeding a certain temperature, while the Download page makes it easy to find and download complete climate datasets for locations across Canada.
Getting into the specifics of the data on ClimateData.ca, this site includes the new standard of emission scenarios called Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), which can help practitioners consider how much future climate risk they could encounter in the coming decades. These new SSPs describe possible socio-economic conditions like population and education, energy use, land-use changes, technology, climate change mitigation actions, and other human-caused climate drivers that influence greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Importantly, ClimateData.ca isn’t just a data platform. It also offers a Learning Zone where Canadians can find short user-friendly articles, videos and more about the science behind climate data, and access tailored resources and products designed for learners of all levels. For example, we have a great article on understanding the SSPs. The Sector pages offer unique case studies and resources that cater to the needs of various sectors of the Canadian economy, including Agriculture, Transportation, Buildings, and Health. Furthermore, ClimateData.ca plays a crucial role in fostering collaboration among Canada’s leading climate scientists, policy analysts, and thinkers. This partnership has brought together various organizations like the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, Ouranos, ClimateWest, CLIMAtlantic, the Prairie Climate Centre, the Computer Research Institute of Montreal, Habitat7, and the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to develop a comprehensive, accessible platform that helps Canadians better understand how the climate is changing in Canada.
Who are the intended users?
ClimateData.ca is intended for use by any professional who can use climate data to either plan for, implement, or make the case for adaptation measures in their region or sector. It is therefore designed to cater to a broad range of audiences, from the general public to academics, policymakers, and professionals working in various sectors, both public and private. For instance, researchers and academics can use ClimateData.ca to study climate trends, identify emerging risks, and develop innovative solutions to mitigate these risks. Policymakers and government officials can use the website to inform risk assessments and make informed decisions about climate policy and climate change adaptation planning. Other professionals in various industries, such as engineers and urban planners, can use ClimateData.ca to develop climate-resilient infrastructure and ensure the safety and resilience of communities.
Teah Lizee is a Physical Scientist at the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Ryan Smith is a Policy Analyst at the Canadian Centre for Climate Services, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Bush, E. and Lemmen, D.S., editors (2019): Canada’s Changing Climate Report; Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON. 444 p.
Lee, J. Y. et al. (2021) Future Global Climate: Scenario-Based Projections and Near-Term Information. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V. et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 553–672, doi:10.1017/9781009157896.006