Providing Regional Climate Services to British Columbia

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Climate Analysis and Monitoring

The Climate Analysis and Monitoring (CAM) theme at PCIC is focused on providing reference climate data to users, understanding historical climate trends and variability, and interpreting recent seasonal weather in light of climatology, using climate data available for the province.

Accomplishing these service goals involves several collaborative research areas within the theme. The foundation of the work is a comprehensive observational data set for British Columbia. Observations of temperature, precipitation, wind, air pressure and other variables taken near the Earth’s surface characterize the historical weather and climate that British Columbians have experienced. The archive of weather data was assembled at PCIC as part of the Climate Related Monitoring Program (CRMP) that united BC Ministries, Rio Tinto and BC Hydro under a data sharing and operations planning agreement in 2010. A new seven-year agreement was signed in 2018 to continue this cooperative effort. A major part of the agreement is the ongoing incorporation of new data into the archive as it is collected either on a near real-time basis or as periodic updates. Because of these activities, the climate data portal  is the most comprehensive source for climate data in British Columbia, incorporating data from agencies that are part of the CRMP agreement as well as that collected by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Observational data from CRMP activities have been used to develop high-resolution maps of the temperature and precipitation climatology of British Columbia using the PRISM climate mapping software. Climatologies are available on PCIC’s data portal for the 1971 – 2000 climate normal period and for the 1981 – 2010 climate normal period. Additional work has been done to construct monthly temperature and precipitation time-series maps from 1950 through 2007 and these are available at the same location. In the near future, the monthly climate maps will be extended to the present and kept up-to-date on a rolling monthly basis. Defining the reliability of the PRISM climatology and monthly maps is a work in progress and CAM hopes to deliver uncertainty analysis and products in the very near future.

Using the station-level climate data developed for the PRISM mapping process as well as incoming weather observations, CAM analyzes monthly weather averages in comparison with the climatological expectation to assess the anomalies in a given month. Maps depicting how temperature and precipitation deviated from normal values at stations with climate averages are delivered through the Seasonal Anomaly Maps page. The anomaly data are also used to construct a gridded anomaly product that is available from 1900 to present at a 0.5 degree spatial resolution. The gridded data are used to assess anomalies over regions in BC in comparison with the historical record as well as to assess the trends in temperature and precipitation in BC over the entire province or specific regions.

To support climatological and climate analysis activities, improving data quality is an ongoing effort in the theme. This includes developing tools to assess erroneous data through outlier detection and detection of data inconsistencies within the dataset. In 2018 CAM completed an effort to detect and remove the occurrence of non-climatic influences on temperature records through a process of assessing and correcting data inhomogeneity. The work was supported by two awards (one to BC’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and one directly to PCIC) from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Network of Networks Grants and Contributions funding program. CAM’s effort adds to the national efforts of Environment and Climate Change Canada to construct a homogenized dataset through the Adjusted Homogenized Canadian Climate Data program. Ongoing efforts are being made within the theme to complete homogenization of precipitation data at the monthly timescale and to publish the monthly and daily homogenized temperature and monthly homogenized precipitation data onto PCIC’s data portals.

Finally, CAM takes part in additional activities that enable a greater understanding of BC’s historical climate and how ongoing monitoring takes place. Please get in touch with the lead with any ideas for analysis or collaboration in this realm.

Research objectives

  • Development of the PCDS: Update and maintain the database of station data including implementation of near real-time data ingestion and further steps toward quality control and station homogenization.

  • PRISM Climatology Mapping: Application of the PRISM technology to the generation of 30 arc second resolution climatological maps of maximum, minimum, and mean temperature and precipitation in British Columbia on a monthly and annual basis.

  • PRISM Time-series Mapping: Generation of a time series of 30 arc-second maps of temperature and precipitation in British Columbia on a monthly basis. Explore the production of monthly maps into the early and mid 20th century with a focus on producing maps at a daily temporal resolution.

  • Ongoing monthly and seasonal weather analysis. Report on extreme events as they evolve and produce annual and seasonal reports reviewing the conditions for the period.

Key Personnel: