Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project F090116

    Increasing the spatial range of ClimateBC
Project lead: Spittlehouse, David (BC Ministry of Forests and Range)
Contributing Authors: Spittlehouse, David L.; Wang, Tong-Li; Hamann, Andreas; Mbogga, Michael; Murdock, Trevor Q.; Bronaugh, David
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Applying climate data in resource management requires matching spatial scales of climate and resource databases. This activity is a critical part of work to assess the vulnerability of forest and range resources to current and future climate change (Spittlehouse 2005). ClimateBC is a computer program that does this for historic monthly temperature and precipitation and climate change scenarios for BC. A stand-alone MS Windows application and a web-based version to produce the data are available at no charge (Wang et al. 2006, Spittlehouse 2006). Its interactive mode allows the user to input the latitude, longitude, and elevation of their point of interest and select variables and the summary period. Applications of these data include predicting ecological changes, hydrological impacts, and economic impacts of insects under a range of climate scenarios (e.g., Hamann and Wang 2006, Spittlehouse 2006, PCIC 2007). The studies and numerous enquiries by professionals from a range of disciplines have identified the need to improve the products available from ClimateBC.

The highest priority among the improvements requested is to expand the spatial coverage of the ClimateBC software. Climate change impact research regularly requires the characterization of the climatic tolerance of a species throughout its natural range. Similarly, the development of climate change adaptation strategies requires to find equivalent climate regions to what we might expect in the future. These climate regions are regularly outside of BCs provincial boundaries, usually to the south.

Currently, ClimateBC covers the region between 47 and 62N in latitude and between 113 and 141W in longitude. This includes British Columbia and the Yukon and parts of bordering provinces and US States, an area of about 130 million ha. We propose to triple this area by expanding the spatial coverage toward the south (to 30 latitude) and east (to 95 longitude). This covers the global species ranges of many western North American species.

The PRISM high-resolution climate normal data that is the basis for ClimateBC (Wang et al. 2006) is also available for the Prairie Provinces and the western US States to allow the software coverage described above. Similarly, we have obtained monthly historical data from 1901 to 2002 (Mitchell and Jones 2005). Using the same methodology as Mitchell and Jones (2005), we will update the historical data for the expanded coverage to 2005. Similarly, a comprehensive up-to-date set of climate change scenarios for the larger region will be added.

ClimateBC produces numerous biologically relevant derived variables such as various growing degree days, the beginning and end of the growing season, or frost free period (Wang et al 2006). However, there is a need to add more hydrologic variables. We will add the ability to calculate a reference evaporation rate and do climatic moisture deficit calculations. The potential for other variables will be investigated.

ClimateBC stand-alone software package will be emulated with the western North American version. The web-based version of ClimateBC will also be updated. The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium will host the gridded data and data access procedures are being developed under an accompanying proposal. This will result in an improved ability of users to evaluate the effect of climate change on BCs ecosystems, associated resources.
Contact: Spittlehouse, Dave, (250) 387-3453,


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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