The Climate Atlas of Canada is an interactive tool that combines climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home for Canadians.
The Climate Atlas displays projections for two possible climate futures. Each assumes a different level of future greenhouse gas emissions, which leads to more or less global warming.
Emissions continue to increase at current rates.
This is the "business as usual" scenario, and assumes that world greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase at current rates through the end of the century. This large amount of greenhouse gas emissions results in more severe global warming. This is also called the "high carbon" future, and is based on the RCP 8.5 emissions scenario.
Greenhouse gas emissions slow, peak mid-century, and then drop rapidly.
This scenario assumes that greenhouse gas emissions increase until about 2050 and then rapidly decline. This decline in emissions leads to less severe global warming than the alternative “business as usual” or high carbon scenario. This is also called the "low carbon" future, and is based on the RCP 4.5 emissions scenario.
The "baseline" maps and data describe climate conditions in the recent past. The values were generated by climate models and have been shown to accurately represent observed records (when averaged over time periods such as seasons or years). Importantly, the baseline period does not mean "before global warming": our climate had already warmed quite a bit by the 1970s.
This period of time begins in just a couple of years, and we'll be in the middle of it in about 20 years. Most Canadians will see these changes come to pass.
This period of time begins in about 30 years, and we'll be in the middle of it in about 45 years. Younger Canadians will likely experience all of these changes, and many older Canadians will at least see them begin.
Select the type of climate information you want to display on the map using the menus at the bottom of the page. You can also choose between future scenarios that lead to “more” or “less” climate change, and display information for either the recent past or one of two future time periods.
Once the map is has loaded its data for the chosen climate information, scenario, and time period, you can display detailed info about places all across Canada.
Click on one of the grid squares or select a city or town to get more detailed climate change information about that specific place. The map sidebar will show detailed numbers and graphs and provide links to even more information.
Select one of the icons to watch a video and discover how people across Canada are learning about and taking action on climate change.
Follow the "tour" link to get a quick overview of the map controls. For detailed instructions, see the Climate Atlas Guidebook.
Choose which climate information to display on the map using these menus.
Use these controls to toggle between scenarios resulting in “more” or “less” climate change based on future greenhouse gas emissions. The map can display three time periods: the recent past (1976-2005), the immediate future (2021-2050) and the near future (2051-2080).
You can click on the icons to get more information about these greenhouse gas scenarios and time periods.
Regional data: Climate data can be displayed for three different regions: provinces/territories, large grids, and small grids. The large grids are about 100km x 100km in southern Canada, and the smaller grids are about 30km x 30km. Using these various options you can display climate data anywhere in the country.
Map type: The atlas can display two different styles of map. You can choose between Average maps that show the projected average (mean) values directly and Change maps (also known as “delta” maps) that display the difference between a projected future climate and the recent past.
Settings: You can customize the map display using these settings. They allow you to select metric or imperial units of measurement, whether or not to display various helpful visual elements, and to turn the map video markers on and off.
As you change the various map options (type of data, severity of climate change, and time period), the title bar at the top keeps track of what you've chosen, so you always know what you're looking at.
You can also get more information about what the map is showing. Click on the large icon to get detailed explanations about the map you're exploring.
You can share the map display on social media or by email. The map will get shared exactly as it looks. If you are zoomed in on a specific location, or if you have a sidebar open showing details about a town or region, that display is what others will see when you share.
You might notice that things look a little different around here now. The atlas map has been recreated using twice as many climate models, and we’ve made a lot of changes to how things look and feel. We hope this has made the atlas even easier to use.
The new settings tools in the top left of the map let you:
When you click on a location to explore, you’ll find many more options to download helpful things, including:
(You can also follow the “Explore detailed climate data” link for many more graphs and download options.)
There are also more options to learn about how to use the map at the very top right of the page.
We hope you like the changes!
More notes / links:
- The Prairie Climate Centre