Not your first time?
Get right into the data
or Review the 2019 updates
Through this application you can explore climate changes and averages for 6,834 10-by-10 km squares in Alberta for 52 climate indices based on historical records between 1951 - 2017 and three future projections for 2041 - 2070.
Hundreds of weather stations across Alberta have been recording daily temperature and precipitation amounts for decades.
These records allow scientists to track changes and analyze long-term patterns of a wide range of climate indices. It is revealed that the seemingly chaotic annual variation often has systematic, and often significant, trends.
A climate index is the measurement of the number of days per year that meet particular highs, lows, and sustained averages, such as the number of days above 25°C each year.
This application includes 55 indices that are useful for different applications, such as stresses caused by temperature extremes or dry/wet periods, or the frost-free period and growing season length.
Dr. Stefan Kienzle and his lab at the University of Lethbridge analyzed the daily records to produce seven datasets that let us explore changes and averages for each climate index over time:
This dataset shows the average change over 67 years based on all the available yearly recordings
You can also look at the annual variability to see the annual ups and downs, showing that changes are not the same year after year.
These datasets show 30-year averages of daily weather data for each climate index for six different time periods (5 historical; 1 future).
These datasets were calculated using Regional Climate Models for 3 scenarios:
The Alberta Climate Records website was developed by Christine Clark, Assistant Professor of New Media, and Dr. Stefan W. Kienzle, Professor of Hydrology and GIS, both at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. The visualizations feature a dataset of over 500 million weather data between 1951 and 2017 for 6,834 locations across Alberta.
Analyses of climate indices and trends by the Kienzle Watershed and GIS Lab, University of Lethbridge.
Design and visualization programming by Christine Clark
Data provided by the Government of Canada.
This project was conducted within the framework of two overlapping research projects. One project is the Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Extremes in the Americas (VACEA) project, which has the key objective of addressing a gap in the current understanding of the consequences of global climate change for regional climate variability and extremes and the resulting vulnerabilities of agricultural and indigenous communities. This part of the project was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The other project is the Predicting Alberta's Water Future (PAWF) project, funded by Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES). Students and research assistants from the University of Lethbridge have contributed to various aspects of this project:
The Alberta climate dataset was analyzed by Dr. Stefan W. Kienzle, Professor of Geography (Hydrology and GIS) at the University of Lethbridge.
The research is aimed at providing systematic knowledge to satisfy the recognized requirement for "Better climate information for a better future", as coined by World Climate Conference-3. The Government of Canada has created a Canada-wide daily and spatially consistent climate dataset (daily minimum and maximum temperature, and precipitation), spanning the period 1951-2017, at a spatial resolution of 10 km by 10 km. This dataset was released by the National Land and Water Information Service (NLWIS), part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Grid values were interpolated from daily climate station recordings (Environment Canada, 2015).
This database served as a keystone in the calculation of a wide range of temperature and precipitation indices. To cover the entire Province of Alberta, 6,834 time series were analyzed to detect trends for 52 climate indices using the non-parametric Mann-Kendall and Sen Slope tests. Many climate indices exhibit trends with confidence levels exceeding 95%, often exceeding 99%.
Environment Canada, 2015: Climate Trends and Variations Bulletin - Annual for 2014 (https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/science-research-data/climate-trends-variability.html. Accessed Nov. 2019.
Hopkinson RF, DW McKenney, EJ Milewska, MF Hutchinson, P Papadopol and LA 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.
Hutchinson MF, DW McKenney, K Lawrence, JH Pedlar, RF Hopkinson, E Milewska and P. Papadopol 2009: Development and testing of Canada-wide interpolated spatial models of daily minimum/maximum temperature and precipitation 1961-2003. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 48: 725-741.
Kienzle SW 2018: Has it become warmer in Alberta? Mapping temperature changes for the period 1950-2010 across Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Geographer 62(2): 144-162.
McKenney DW, MF Hutchinson, P Papadopol, K Lawrence, J Pedlar, C Kampbell, E Milewska, RF Hopkinson, D Price and T Owen 2011: Customized spatial climate models for North America. Bulletin of American Meteorological Society-BAMS December 2011: 1612-1622
Natural Resources Canada 2016: Regional, national and international climate modeling. (https://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/projects/3. Accessed Nov 2019)
The difference is time. Weather describes the atmospheric conditions over days, hours, or sometimes minutes. Climate is the average weather over many years. A climate normal is the average weather over a 30-year period.
A climate index is an annually calculated variable, such as the number of days with a daily mean temperature below -10°C, that allow the analysis of long-term patterns.
A Temperature Trend is the average change over time that is calculated for each climate index based on all the available yearly temperature recordings.
The trends presented here were calculated based on a Mann-Kendall Trend Test, a test particularly well suited for climate time series.
Variability is the natural annual fluctuation of climate indices from year to year. Generally, the annual variability is increasing. That is why we can expect more record cold weather, although the average climate is getting warmer.