Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector accounted for roughly 12.5% of total employment in 20161. A changing climate has direct implications for the agricultural sector, including extreme weather events, changing crop suitability, pest distribution, and water availability2,3, making it a priority for inclusion on ClimateData.ca. Canada’s agricultural sector is used to working with climate variability and has already implemented adaptation actions to reduce its risk to this variability. Access to climate model data can provide stakeholders in the sector with a better idea of how the climate is expected to change in their region and case studies provide examples of additional impacts and the use of climate data to better understand changing risks. The information available on ClimateData.ca is intended to inform adaptation by informing decision making, program priorities and investment decisions taken to manage additional risks of climate change.
The ClimateData.ca agriculture sector module was developed with input from a variety of stakeholders in Canada’s agricultural sector through a survey as well as engagements with experts and stakeholders. The module is currently targeted towards anyone in the agricultural sector and can inform long-term adaptation and risk management decisions.
While module content focuses primarily on Canadian impacts, the global nature of climate change means that impacts around the world will likely have indirect effects on Canadian agriculture through changes in global supply chains and trade3,4. ClimateData.ca provides data from an ensemble of 24 global climate models which have been downscaled and bias adjusted using the ANUSPLIN-derived gridded historical dataset. Consequently, only maximum and minimum temperature and precipitation, and several climate indices based on these three variables, are currently available. Survey results indicated that wind, soil moisture and snow cover information is also required by stakeholders; unfortunately, it is not currently possible to provide these variables on ClimateData.ca. The Learning Zone section of ClimateData.ca provides further information on historical datasets, using climate data for decision making, and climate projection ranges.
Many agricultural decisions, particularly at the farm level, are made on shorter time scales than the 30-year horizons. Seasonal weather forecasts can be accessed through the Canadian Climate Data and Scenarios website. The Canadian Drought Monitor provides a variety of information on current and historical drought conditions across Canada. AgWeather Quebec provides weather information (real-time data, forecasts, agroclimatic indices, models) that is tailored to the agricultural sector for Québec.