Adapting Canada’s weather services to climate change

A review of the potential environmental impacts of adapting our weather services to climate change.

For over 140 years, the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) has provided Canadians with up-to-date information about the weather. This information is vital for protecting the health, safety, security and economic well-being of individuals and communities.

The changing climate is creating more environmental extremes.  For example, there are more tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, wildfires and floods in Canada. These events are developing faster and having more severe impacts when they do occur. This is impacting economic sustainability, public safety and national security through:

  • the ability to grow crops
  • produce power
  • protect communities from floods and wildfires

Canadians need to have easy access to tailored and timely weather forecasts and information to plan their day and activities.

Over recent years, the Government of Canada has been working to modernize important weather-related infrastructure to make sure that Stakeholders and Canadians have access to more accurate and relevant information on current and changing weather conditions.

This includes investing in the:

Canadians are increasingly using computers and wireless devices in all areas of their everyday lives. The Government of Canada is upgrading the weather warning and forecast system to make sure that Canadians can receive meteorological information in ways they expect to access and use it.

Using existing and ongoing resources, as well as the additional Budget 2018 investment, Canada will complete the modernization of Canada’s weather warning and forecast system which will lead to the:

  • re-design of the weather forecast and warning system to enable the delivery of new products and services
  • implementation of an improved data management system and computer modelling capacity making use of the new HPC capacity that came online in September 2017
  • increased capacity for Canada’s Warning Preparedness Meteorologist program, where meteorologists provide front-line support to emergency management organizations, media and other stakeholders to provide advice in preparation for and during severe weather events

These investments will contribute to reducing risks to both human health and the environment. They will lead to improved weather warnings, data management and computer models used to forecast weather for use by:

  • governments (federal, PT, municipal)
  • emergency management organizations
  • industry
  • citizens

The initiative will contribute to all 13 goals set out in the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals and targets. It will support the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Effective action on climate change: modernize data management and forecasting systems to understand how climate and weather relate and how climate change puts pressure on Canada’s weather sensitive business sectors. This will also support SDG 13 Climate action.
  • Low-carbon government: provide improved access to weather data sets to inform activities to incorporate adaptation into departmental risk planning processes. These actions will also support SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production.
  • Clean growth: provide more accurate and timely forecasts to support advancements in the clean energy sector. This will also support  SDG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
  • Modern and resilient infrastructure: provide data and information that contributes to ongoing investments to infrastructure by all levels of government, the private sector and the public. It will help them remain functional in the face of weather-related events including hurricanes. This will also support DG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
  • Clean energy: provide continued access to accurate and reliable weather-related information to ensure continued safe and efficient operation of clean energy generation operations based on renewable resources such as wind and hydropower.  This will also support SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy.
  • Healthy coasts and oceans: provide improved weather warnings and forecasts that support safer navigation and the operation of wastewater facilities in rivers that are connected to coastal ecosystems and the oceans.  This will also support SDG 14  Life below water.
  • Pristine lakes and rivers: providing weather information at finer resolution and with increased lead times to inform decisions relating to safe navigation and to help anticipate water level flow and levels which impact on nutrient loads in Canada’s lakes and rivers. This will also support SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation.
  • Sustainably managed lands and forests: contribute to understanding the impacts of weather and climate change on Canada’s ecosystems to help manage lands and forests sustainably.  This will also support SDG 15 Life on land.
  • Healthy wildlife populations: provide weather data and improved weather forecasting capacity to support informed and effective wildlife management interventions.  This will also support SDG 15 Life on land.
  • Clean drinking water: implement new weather forecast products with increased lead times to help reduce the potential impacts of sudden severe weather events on water-related infrastructure and to preserve or restore the quality of water in communities impacted by water pollution. This will also support SDG 3 Good health and well-being and SDG 6 Clean water and sanitation.
  • Sustainable food: improve access to weather-related data to better understand the water cycle (e.g. floods and drought) and wind patterns to support the sustainable management of Canada’s agricultural sector. This will also support SDG 2 Zero hunger.
  • Connecting Canadians with nature: support safe enjoyment of outdoor activities by ensuring that weather forecasts and warnings continue to be available to the public in ways that they want to receive it. This will also support SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities.
  • Safe and healthy communities: communicate weather warnings more accurately and with more lead time to Canadians and weather sensitive business sectors. This will also support SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities.

Monitoring and reporting on the progress of this initiative, and its contributions to the SDGs and FSDS goals will be conducted through existing mechanisms and reports.



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