Prairie Climate Centre

The Prairie Climate Center (PCC) is a collaboration of The University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The PCC is located in the Richardson College for the Environment at the University of Winnipeg.

The PCC focuses on addressing the gap in providing latest-generation climate change science to members of the public, policy makers and local leaders. The Centre will provide up-to-date and high quality data, maps, and toolkits depicting expected climate changes for the three Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba).

The goal of the PCC is to build an innovative, stakeholder-driven team that collaborates with those who will be affected by climate change. The Centre will help ensure people have the necessary information to being adaptation planning, while providing the motivation needed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

Visit the full Prairie Climate Centre website by clicking here.

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About the Atlas

The Prairie Climate Atlas has been created as a tool for communicating the severity of climate change in the Prairie Provinces. The collection of interactive maps and graphs available throughout the website allow users to explore how climate is projected to change across the Prairies.

In the coming months, we will be linking this modeling and mapping project with publicly engaging video-based outputs regarding anticipated impacts and opportunities for risk reduction. By innovatively combining climate, cartography and cinema we will help tell the story of how climate change will affect the Prairie region with the goal of inspiring citizen participation and assisting local leaders and decision makers in producing meaningful and effective adaptation and mitigation strategies for current and future generations.

The Prairie Climate Atlas is a collaborative undertaking founded by the following members of the Prairie Climate Centre.

Dr. Danny Blair

  • Scientific Director, Prairie Climate Centre
  • Climatologist
  • Professor, Department of Geography
  • University of Winnipeg

Dr. Ian Mauro

  • Communications Director, Prairie Climate Centre
  • Filmmaker, environmental scientist
  • Associate Professor, Department of Geography
  • University of Winnipeg

Ryan Smith, MSc

  • Research Associate, Prairie Climate Centre
  • Climate researcher, computer programmer and map designer
  • University of Winnipeg
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Interactive maps, graphs, and design by Tactica Interactive

Climate Projections

The primary source of climate model data presented in our maps, charts and tables is the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC; pacificclimate.org). We downloaded PCIC’s statistically downscaled data (Bias Corrected Spatial Disaggregation; BCSD) derived from 12 CMIP5 global climate models (GCMs: ACCESS1.0, CanESM2, CCSM4, CNRM-CM5, CSIRO-Mk3-6.0, GFDL-ESM2G, HadGEM2-CC, HadGEM2-LR, INM-CM4, MPI-ESM-LR, MRI-CGCM3, MIROC5), for two emissions scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). For each model/scenario PCIC provided daily temperatures (maximum and minimum) and total precipitation at 10 km resolution for the Prairie Provinces window, for the period 1950-2100 (note: since some of the models did not have data beyond 2095, we used this year as our cutoff for future time series).

Unless otherwise stated, the data we present are the averages (ensembles) of the 12-model suite. For each model, the simulations for 1950-2005 were the same for both emissions scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We call the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios the Low and High emissions scenarios, respectively. The divergent emissions scenarios were used by the models starting in 2006. That is, starting in 2006 the model outputs for the two RCPs begin to differ.

We used the modeled data for the period 1981-2010 to calculate our baseline (Recent Past) values; since this period includes the five years of 2006-2010, when the RCP scenarios were beginning to diverge, the baseline values for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 are at times slightly different (especially for precipitation values, in which there is inherently more variability). We chose this method of calculating baseline values to retain a 30-year period as our reference period, as is standard practice in climatology.

In general, projections for the future are reported for two future 30-year periods: 2021-2050 (Near Future) and 2051-2080 (Far Future). An evaluation of the modeled baseline values with observed values (e.g. the gridded daily temperature and precipitation data produced by NRCan, derived from Environment Canada station data) indicated that the modeled baseline values are representative of historical conditions (when averaged over months/seasons/years. The modeled daily data for 1950-2005 do not match observed values for this period, and were not intended to do so).

Spatial Analogue Maps

The data used to construct the Climate Migration/Analogue maps was obtained from the AdaptWest Project (https://adaptwest.databasin.org/). They provide 30-year temperature and precipitation projection ensembles for North America, downscaled to 1 km resolution; the ensembles are derived from 15 CMIP5 cl Imate models (ACCESS1.0, CanESM2, CCSM4, CESM1-CAM5, CNRM-CM5, CSIRO Mk 3.6, GFDL-CM3, GISS-E2R, HadGEM2-ES, INM-CM4, IPSL-CM5A-MR, MIROC-ESM, MIROC5, MPI-ESM-LR, MRI-CGCM3), that were chosen to represent a range of GCMs (see Knutti et al 2013, Geophys Res Let 40: 1–6, doi:10.1002/grl.50256).

The 2020s (average of 2011-2030) summer (JJA) spatial analogue maps for Winnipeg were created by identifying those data points in the AdaptWest data with a 1981-2010 mean summer temperature within 1 °C (±) of the mean summer temperature in Winnipeg and summer total precipitation within 10% (±) of Winnipeg’s mean total precipitation. The analogues for the 2050s use the Winnipeg means for 2041-2060, and the 2080s analogues use the 2071-2090 means.

The winter (DJF) analogues were calculated in the same way, but use average total snowfall (±15%).

References

Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, University of Victoria, (Jan. 2014). Statistically Downscaled Climate Scenarios. Downloaded from https://www.pacificclimate.org/data/statistically-downscaled-climate-scenarios in January 2015.

AdaptWest Project. 2015. Gridded current and projected climate data for North America at 1km resolution, interpolated using the ClimateNA v5.10 software (T. Wang et al., 2015). Available at adaptwest.databasin.org.

Knutti et al 2013, Geophys Res Let 40: 1–6, doi:10.1002/grl.50256

Hopkinson, R.F., D.W. McKenney, E.J. Milewska, M.F. Hutchinson, P. Papadopol, and L.A. Vincent, 2011: Impact of Aligning Climatological Day on Gridding Daily Maximum–Minimum Temperature and Precipitation over Canada. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 50, 1654–1665. doi:10.1175/2011JAMC2684.1.

Glossary

Anomaly: Deviations from baseline/normal (positive or negative).

Cold Days: Days ≤ -30°C.

CMIP5: Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5, a coordinated modeling exercise that involves 20 climate-modeling groups from around the world.

Ensemble: Because no individual climate model can be considered ‘best’, we use an ensemble (or average) of many climate models to represent future climate values.

Far Future: 2051-2080.

Frost-free period: Number of consecutive days without freezing temperatures.

Global Climate Model (GCM): In the scientific literature, these are called General Circulation Models. These models project future climate changes under different carbon emission scenarios.

High Carbon: The High Carbon scenario (RCP8.5) assumes that we continue to emit very large amounts of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

Hot Days: Days ≥ 30°C.

Low Carbon: The Low Carbon scenario (RCP4.5) assumes that drastic reductions of emissions in the coming decades will stabilize the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere by the end of this century.

Near Future: 2021-2050.

Paris Agreement of 2015: An agreement within the United Nations that strives to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global temperature rise below 2°C.

Pre-industrial Period: 1850-1900.

RCP2.6 (Very Low Carbon): We did not use RCP2.6, an even lower emissions scenario. This scenario is based on extreme greenhouse gas reductions in the coming decades, combined with use of carbon sequestration technologies to permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Recent Past: 1981-2010.

Spatial Analogues: Maps that highlight regions with a present day climate similar to the future climate for a given location and season.

Disclaimer

The information disseminated by the Prairie Climate Centre including but not restricted to maps, tables, statistics and interpretations is provided as a public service. It is provided 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 Prairie Climate Centre 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.

Get in touch

info@climateatlas.ca

Prairie Climate Centre
University of Winnipeg
515 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9

 
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High Carbon
Low Carbon
  • Recent Past
  • Near Future
  • Far Future
High Carbon
Low Carbon
  • Recent Past
  • Near Future
  • Far Future
High Carbon
Low Carbon
  • Recent Past
  • Near Future
  • Far Future
High Carbon
Low Carbon
  • Recent Past
  • Near Future
  • Far Future
High Carbon
Low Carbon
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