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New set of forecasted extreme weather indices to better equip producers

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Extreme weather conditions and events are frequent during the agricultural growing season. Developing new tools that help identify the risks to Canadian agricultural production is increasingly important.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) have created a new suite of Extreme Weather Indices to help producers prepare for extreme weather conditions that are now available online.

“The incidence and frequency of extreme weather is expected to increase and with it the risks to agricultural production. Forecast products such as these help provide insights into the future risks and this is highly desired by decision makers.”

- Patrick Cherneski, Manager National Agroclimate Information Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

These indices, or short-term weekly forecasts for up to a month in advance, predict extreme weather factors such as temperature, heat, wind and precipitation. Within each of the categories there are numerous easy-to-read maps that will allow farmers to see weather predictions across the country that are tailored to an agriculture context.

For example, within the wind category, farmers will be able to see “Probability of Drying Day Occurrence” maps which will be particularly important during the planting and harvesting season. While during the growing season, farmers may be interested in the “Maximum Wind Speed” and “Number of Strong Wind Days” look ahead to help predict the spread of pests and when to spray.

“AAFC has been developing and providing timely weather and climate information that is relevant to the Canadian agriculture sector for more than 20 years. We are pleased to now offer tools that will help farmers look into the future.”

- Patrick Cherneski, Manager National Agroclimate Information Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Work on this project began in 2006 when the AAFC and ECCC signed an agreement to collaborate more closely together by sharing climate data. Through working with high performance computers, complex models and large datasets, the collaboration has resulted in these agriculture-specific extreme weather indices.

“This work is a good example of the positive results that can come from collaboration among scientists from different departments with common interests. It was hard work as we faced some unique challenges including identifying appropriate agricultural thresholds for extreme weather, validating the results and extensive testing to ensure accuracy for the modeled results. Going forward, we will continue to work together to improve these products by adding more indices for agriculture while increasing the ability and skill to forecast further into the future.”

- Dr. Aston Chipanshi, Analytical Services Manager, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Check Drought Watch frequently, as information becomes available and relevant throughout the season and new maps are uploaded on a regular basis.

Key Discoveries/Benefits

Photo gallery

A map with coloured areas to show precipitation.
Extreme Weather Indices can help producers prepare for extreme weather conditions such as heavy precipitation or heat waves.
A bunch of blueberrries.
With these new products, farmers get a look at future risks and can make decisions to protect their crops, for example covering blueberries from the risk of frost.
A person sitting at desk working on computer with map
Agroclimate Specialist Marilee Pregitzer has been part of the team that has spent the past year preparing Extreme Weather Indices products for online accessibility.

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