Furthering Our Understanding of the Climate

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PRISM Climatology and Monthly Timeseries

The High-Resolution PRISM Climatology page provides access to gridded, 30 arc-second (roughly 800 metre) temperature and precipitation climatologies for the 1971-2000 and 1981 – 2010 climate normal periods for land-surface areas of British Columbia. The gridded climatologies were derived from station data interpolated using the Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM). The user interface to the portal features an interactive map of the province that allows users to zoom, pan and select their region of interest using a rectangular selection tool. See below for a brief description, notes on citation, references and the terms of use.


British Columbia has very large spatial variability in its climate, owing to its topography and a mixture of coastal and continental influences. Station-based climatologies are useful for describing conditions in a specific area, but the detailed spatial patterns of climate cannot be directly described using stations alone. To calculate the climatology of the province at a high spatial resolution, an interpolation procedure that accounts for the effects of topography is needed, for which the PRISM climate group at Oregon State University  has developed PRISM. 

PRISM has been tested and verified throughout the United States and has been applied in numerous countries across the globe including western Canada previously for the 1961 – 1990 normal period. PCIC, in concert with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and the BC Government, has obtained a license to apply PRISM in British Columbia and, beginning in 2011, has developed the expertise to apply PRISM to observational data in BC. The first three stages of this project have been completed and include the release of the 1971 – 2000 and 1981 – 2010 climate maps as well as the release of monthly timeseries maps that detail monthly average temperatures and total precipitation amounts across the province from 1950 through 2007. Subsequent work will involve development of uncertainty estimates for the climatologies and the establishment of regular updates to the monthly maps. Finally, exploration of mapping additional parameters such as climate extremes or daily data are in the works. 

The climate maps presented here are based on information from thousands of temperature and precipitation observation sites in British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The temperature climatologies were supplemented by upper atmosphere temperature climatologies derived from the National Center for Environmental Prediction’s North American Regional Reanalysis (Mesinger et al., 2006; emc.ncep.noaa.gov/mmb/rreanl/). Precipitation climatologies were improved using data from snow observing networks in British Columbia and the United States. Further information about high-elevation precipitation was obtained by analyzing the glacier inventory for British Columbia developed by the University of Northern British Columbia (Bolch et al., 2010). A subsequent report will detail the creation of these climatologies and explain how these data were applied.

For the 1981 – 2010 maps, external contributions were made to PCIC which improved the quality and made more rapid the release of the data. A substantial data contribution was made by Alberta Agriculture and Development who maintain and quality control data collected by the province of Alberta and also apply additional quality control the data collected by Environment Canada in Alberta. These data were critical for defining the climate near the BC/Alberta border. The rapid development of the 1981 – 2010 climate maps was enabled through funding from two US agencies: The Bonneville Power Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their support enabled PCIC's Climate Analysis and Monitoring theme to dedicate focussed attention to the project allowing the completion of the maps by Spring, 2015. The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions also supported this project. PCIC is grateful for the assistance from all of its external contributors.

Data Citation

When referring to the High Resolution Climatology data retrieved from the website or found otherwise, the source must be clearly stated:

Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, University of Victoria, and PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, (Jan. 2014). High Resolution Climatology. Downloaded from <Permalink> on <Date>.

Terms of Use 

In addition to PCIC's terms of use, the climatologies are subject to the terms of use of the PRISM Climate Group: 


This data product is provided by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium with an open license on an “AS IS” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied, as to its accuracy or completeness. Any reliance you place upon the information contained here is your sole responsibility and strictly at your own risk. In no event will the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever, including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, arising from reliance upon the data or derived information.


Bolch, T., B. Menounos and R. Wheate, 2010: Landsat-based inventory of glaciers in western Canada, 1985–2005. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114, 127 – 137, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2009.08.015.

Daly, C., M. Halbleib, J.I. Smith, W.P. Gibson, M.K. Doggett, G.H. Taylor, J. Curtis and P.P. Pasteris, 2008: Physiographically sensitive mapping of climatological temperature and precipitation across the coterminous United States. International Journal of Climatology, 28, 15, 2031-2064, doi: 10.1002/joc.1688.

Mesinger, F., et al., 2006: North American Regional Reanalysis. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 87, 343-360, doi:10.1175/BAMS-87-3-343.