Francis Zwiers

All the weather you could want

Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium creates online 140-year B.C. weather database

On New Year’s Day in Esquimalt in 1872, it didn’t rain, but the temperature dipped about five degrees below zero. The city had showers for the following two days.

Typical grey days for the West Coast, these are the oldest recorded weather records in B.C., measured from the province’s first weather station, taken about half a year after B.C. entered Confederation with Canada.

Rolling forward 140 years, and the province is covered in weather stations – almost 6,800 between provincial government ministries, B.C. Hydro, RioTintoAlcan and Environment Canada.

After a four year effort, the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) has amassed the sum total of B.C.’s recorded weather history into one online database, and which is open to the public.

“The data wasn’t organized in one place or easy to get at,” said Francis Zwiers, director of  PCIC, based at the University of Victoria, and which studies the impact of climate change and climate variability in B.C. and the Yukon. “We took on the task of gathering it up and building a tool to access it.”

The database hold about 390 million observations spanning 140 years, from temperature, humidity, rain, wind and in cases snowfall, and adds new data daily.  Zwiers said certainly in the early days the record is thin, but weather stations started sprouting up as aviation took off.

“For temperature trends for the province as a whole, then you probably can’t start before 1900. There just isn’t enough stations,” Zwiers said. “The provincial mean temperature is most reliable post-World War II. Lots of stations were put into the system for civil aviation.”

These days weather stations generate highly accurate data that can feed into the Internet in real time. Zwiers, who worked for Environment Canada for part of his career, said even in the old days technicians carefully calibrated weather instruments, which generally produced reliable data. Problems generally crop up if the devices aren’t sited properly, such as too close to a building.

Taken as a whole, B.C.’s weather record shows a net temperature increase of about 1.6 C (plus or minus 0.4 C), but Zwiers cautions the data has a lot of variability. The average temperature declines over a shorter, 110-year window of data, he noted.

The data set will allow PCIC to create high-resolution climatology maps of interest to forestry and environmental assessment companies. Zwiers suspects government agencies such as Ministry of Forests and Ministry of Environment, municipal engineering departments, climate researchers and historians will find uses for the weather data portal.

“There are a lot of weather buffs in the province and people interested in how the climate changes over time,” Zwiers said.

“We expect the information to be invaluable to researchers, engineers, industry and anyone with a keen interest in the climate of the province or its historical weather. These observations will contribute to everyone’s understanding of climate in the province as it continues to evolve.”

See pacificclimate.org/tools-and-data/pcds-portal.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read