All Variables

Below is a library of all variables available within ClimateData.ca. Use the filter to limit your search to specific types of data.

Frost Days describes the number of days where the coldest temperature of the day is lower than 0°C.

The number of frost days is an indicator of the length and severity of the winter season. A location with a large number of frost days is also likely to have a short growing season, since frost is harmful to many plants.

Technical description:

A day when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is below 0°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.

This is a simple count of the days when the air temperature fluctuates between freezing and non-freezing temperatures on the same day. Freeze-thaw cycles can have major impacts on infrastructure. Water expands when it freezes, so the freezing, melting and re-freezing of water can, over time, cause significant damage to roads, sidewalks, and other outdoor structures.

 Technical description

A freeze-thaw cycle occurs when the daily maximum temperature (Tmax) is higher than 0°C and the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is less than or equal to -1°C.

The Variable menu option provides annual values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate this index at different temporal frequencies, or to use different threshold values.

Cooling degree days (CDDs) give an indication of the amount of space cooling, i.e., air conditioning, that may be required to maintain comfortable conditions in a building during warmer months. When the daily average temperature is hotter than the threshold temperature, CDDs are accumulated (see Degree Days Above). Threshold  values may vary, but 18°C is commonly used in Canada.   Larger CDD values indicate a greater need for air conditioning.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated above 18°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Tropical Nights (Days with Tmin >18°C) describes the number of days where the nighttime low temperature is warmer than 18°C. 

Hot summer days and heat waves become particularly stressful if overnight temperatures do not provide cooling relief. Tropical nights make it more difficult for the body to cool down and recover from hot days.

Elderly people, the homeless, and those who live in houses or apartments without air conditioning are especially vulnerable during these heat events, particularly if they last for more than a few days.

Technical description:

A Tropical Night occurs when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is greater than 18°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate Tropical Nights using different minimum temperature thresholds.

Tropical Nights (Days with Tmin >20°C) describes the number of days where the nighttime low temperature is warmer than 20°C. 

Hot summer days and heat waves become particularly stressful if overnight temperatures do not provide cooling relief. Tropical nights make it more difficult for the body to cool down and recover from hot days.

Elderly people, the homeless, and those who live in houses or apartments without air conditioning are especially vulnerable during these heat events, particularly if they last for more than a few days.

Technical description:

A Tropical Night occurs when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is greater than 20°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate Tropical Nights using different minimum temperature thresholds.

Tropical Nights (Days with Tmin >22°C) describes the number of days where the nighttime low temperature is warmer than 22°C.  Hot summer days and heat waves become particularly stressful if overnight temperatures do not provide cooling relief. Tropical nights make it more difficult for the body to cool down and recover from hot days.

Elderly people, the homeless, and those who live in houses or apartments without air conditioning are especially vulnerable during these heat events, particularly if they last for more than a few days.

Technical description:

A Tropical Night occurs when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is greater than 22°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate Tropical Nights using different minimum temperature thresholds.

Relative Sea Level Change is the change in ocean level relative to land. Whereas global sea-level change can be attributed to thermal expansion of water and meltwater from glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets, relative sea-level change is the combination of the effects from global sea-level change and the vertical motion of the land.

Projected relative sea level change data is available for 2006 and for every decade from 2010-2100, relative to 1986-2005 conditions.

Read more

Projections of Relative Sea-Level Change (developed by Natural Resources Canada)

To help Canadians plan, prepare for, and remain resilient to projected sea-level changes, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has developed a new dataset of present and future relative sea-levels (James et al., 2021). The dataset provides projections for relative sea-level change, which is the change in ocean height relative to land and is the apparent sea-level change experienced by coastal communities and ecosystems.  It is a combined measure of both changes to ocean levels due to climate change and vertical land movements, as described below.

Projections are available at a resolution of 0.1° (approximately 11 km latitude, 2-8 km longitude), and for 2006 and every decade from 2010-2100, relative to 1986-2005 conditions. The data is available for the three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) emissions scenarios (RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 8.5) and an enhanced scenario.

Use relative sea-level rise data together with other types of data

When  combined with other types of data such as estimates of storm surge, waves, tides, and additional local-scale vertical land motion, such as subsidence on river deltas, this relative sea-level data is expected to contribute significantly to coastal flood risk assessments and adaptation decision-making.

Relative sea-level change varies greatly based on where you live in Canada

Relative sea-level change along Canada’s coastlines varies greatly from location to location, and can differ substantially from the projected global average sea-level change.  Some Canadian coastlines in Atlantic Canada can expect relative sea-level rise that is larger than the projected global sea-level rise. Conversely, other Canadian coastlines, where the land is rising faster than the ocean, such as Hudson Bay and much of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, can expect a relative sea-level fall.

Guidance on emissions scenarios

Data estimates are available for three RCP scenarios: RCP 2.6 (low), RCP 4.5 (medium), and RCP 8.5 (high) – as reported in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5; Church et al, 2013a,b).  For each scenario, lower, median and upper estimates of projected relative sea-level change are provided, corresponding to the 5th, 50th and 95th percentiles of the full ensemble of Global Climate Models.  An additional Enhanced Scenario is also available, described below.  All projections are based on open ocean basin changes that are extrapolated to the coastline (which does not include explicit modelling of shallow water effects).

For long-term decisions that may be influenced by sea-level changes, the precautionary principle would indicate using the 95th percentile values of the high-emission (RCP 8.5) scenario.  In the case of low tolerance to risk and for project time frames extending past 2100, it would be prudent to consider the enhanced scenario described below. The enhanced scenario adds a further 65 cm of global sea-level rise to the median projection of the highest (RCP8.5) climate scenario at 2100. This 65 cm reflects a potential additional contribution from the Antarctic Ice Sheet. In other situations, use of higher or lower sea-level values, or a range of projected sea-level change, may be more appropriate.  For detailed technical guidance on the use of sea-level projections see Relative sea-level projections for Canada based on the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and the NAD83v70VG national crustal velocity model (James et al, 2021) and GEOSCAN for the full publication and data.

More about this dataset

Projected sea-level changes in this dataset include the effects of changes in glacier and ice-sheet mass loss, thermal expansion of the oceans, changing ocean circulation conditions, and human-caused changes in land water storage, as summarized in IPCC AR5.  A new land motion model developed by the Canadian Geodetic Survey (Robin et al., 2020; Canadian Geodetic Survey, 2019) was incorporated into the data to replace less-accurate land motion values utilized by the IPCC AR5.

Vertical land movements in Canada largely result from loading and unloading of the Earth’s surface by ice sheets.  During the last ice age that ended about seven thousand years ago, much of Canada was covered with thick ice sheets that weighed down the surface of the Earth.  Deep within the Earth, rock yielded and flowed and the land under the ice was pushed down.  At the edges of the ice sheets, the land was pushed up.  Following the thinning and retreat of those ice sheets, land that was pushed down started to rise, while land that was uplifted began to sink, a process that continues to the present day.  Tectonic effects causing earthquakes and land subsidence caused by sediment compaction on coastal deltas can also generate vertical movements that contribute to relative sea-level change, but these are not accounted for in these projections.

References

  • Canadian Geodetic Survey. (2019). NAD83(CSRS) v7. https://webapp.geod.nrcan.gc.ca/geod/tools-outils/nad83-docs.php
  • Church, J.A., P.U. Clark, A. Cazenave, J.M. Gregory, S. Jevrejeva, A. Levermann, M.A. Merrifield, G.A. Milne, R.S. Nerem, P.D. Nunn, A.J. Payne, W.T. Pfeffer, D. Stammer and A.S. Unnikrishnan, 2013a. Sea Level Change. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
  • Church, J.A., P.U. Clark, A. Cazenave, J.M. Gregory, S. Jevrejeva, A. Levermann, M.A. Merrifield, G.A. Milne, R.S. Nerem, P.D. Nunn, A.J. Payne, W.T. Pfeffer, D. Stammer and A.S. Unnikrishnan, 2013b. Sea Level Change Supplementary Material. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change e [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Available from www.climatechange2013.org and www.ipcc.ch.
  • James, T.S., Robin, C., Henton, J.A., and Craymer, M., 2021. Relative Sea-level Projections for Canada based on the IPCC Fifth Asssessment Report and the NAD83v70VG National Crustal Velocity Model; Geological Survey of Canada, Open  File 8764, 1 .zip file, https://doi.org/10.4095/327878
  • Robin, C.M.I., Craymer, M., Ferland, R., James, T.S., Lapelle, E., Piraszewski, M., and Zhao, Y., 2020. NAD83v70VG:  A new national crustal velocity model for Canada; Geomatics Canada, Open File 0062, 1 .zip file,  https://doi.org/10.4095/327592

Growing degree days (GDD) are a measure of whether climate conditions are warm enough to support plant and insect growth. When the daily average temperature is warmer than the threshold temperature, growing degree days are accumulated (see Degree Days Above). For crops such as corn and beans, a threshold temperature of 10°C is generally used.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated above a threshold temperature of 10°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Growing degree days (GDD) are a measure of whether climate conditions are warm enough to support plant and insect growth. When the daily average temperature is warmer than the threshold temperature, growing degree days are accumulated (see Degree Days Above). For forage crops and canola, a threshold temperature of 5°C is generally used.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated above a threshold temperature of 5°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Cumulative degree days above 0°C can be used to determine when climate conditions are warm enough to support the growth of certain plants and pests. When the daily average temperature is warmer than 0°C, degree days are accumulated (see Degree Days Above).

This index can be used to determine the range of some insects and other pests. For example, the black-legged tick, which carries Lyme disease, requires the accumulation of at least 2800 degree days above 0°C for its survival. Warmer conditions can speed the development rate of these species and lead to an extension of their geographical range.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated above 0°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Heating degree days (HDDs) give an indication of the amount of space heating (e.g., from a gas boiler/furnace, baseboard electric heating or fireplace) that may be required to maintain comfortable conditions inside a building during cooler months. When the daily average temperature is colder than the threshold temperature, HDDs are accumulated (see Degree Days Below). Threshold values may vary, but 17°C or 18°C are commonly used in Canada. Larger HDD values indicate a greater need for space heating.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated below 17°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Ice Days describe the number of days where the warmest temperature of the day is not above 0°C.

In other words, this index indicates the number of days when temperatures have remained below freezing for the entire 24-hour period. This index is an indicator of the length and severity of the winter season.

Technical description:

A day when the daily maximum temperature (Tmax) is less than 0°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.