Observed Long-Term Trends for Agroclimatic Conditions in Canada

Budong Qian Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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Xuebin Zhang Climate Research Division, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Kai Chen National Service Office—Agriculture, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Yang Feng Climate Research Division, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Ted O’Brien National Service Office—Agriculture, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Abstract

A set of agroclimatic indices representing Canadian climatic conditions for field crop production are analyzed for long-term trends during 1895–2007. The indices are categorized for three crop types: cool season, warm season, and overwintering. Results indicate a significant lengthening of the growing season due to a significantly earlier start and a significantly later end of the growing season. Significant positive trends are also observed for effective growing degree-days and crop heat units at most locations across the country. The occurrence of extremely low temperatures has become less frequent during the nongrowing season, implying a more favorable climate for overwinter survival. In addition, the total numbers of cool days, frost days, and killing-frost days within a growing season have a decreasing trend. This means that crops may also be less vulnerable to cold stress and injury during the growing season. Extreme daily precipitation amounts and 10-day precipitation totals during the growing season have been increasing. Significant trends associated with increased availability of water during the growing season are identified by the standardized precipitation index and seasonal water deficits. The benefit of the increased precipitation may have been offset by an upward trend in evaporative demand; however, this would depend on the amount of growth and productivity resulting from increased actual evapotranspiration.

Corresponding author address: Xuebin Zhang, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M3H 5T4, Canada. Email: xuebin.zhang@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

A set of agroclimatic indices representing Canadian climatic conditions for field crop production are analyzed for long-term trends during 1895–2007. The indices are categorized for three crop types: cool season, warm season, and overwintering. Results indicate a significant lengthening of the growing season due to a significantly earlier start and a significantly later end of the growing season. Significant positive trends are also observed for effective growing degree-days and crop heat units at most locations across the country. The occurrence of extremely low temperatures has become less frequent during the nongrowing season, implying a more favorable climate for overwinter survival. In addition, the total numbers of cool days, frost days, and killing-frost days within a growing season have a decreasing trend. This means that crops may also be less vulnerable to cold stress and injury during the growing season. Extreme daily precipitation amounts and 10-day precipitation totals during the growing season have been increasing. Significant trends associated with increased availability of water during the growing season are identified by the standardized precipitation index and seasonal water deficits. The benefit of the increased precipitation may have been offset by an upward trend in evaporative demand; however, this would depend on the amount of growth and productivity resulting from increased actual evapotranspiration.

Corresponding author address: Xuebin Zhang, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M3H 5T4, Canada. Email: xuebin.zhang@ec.gc.ca

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