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Surface Temperature and Humidity Trends in Canada for 1953–2005

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  • 1 Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • | 2 Department of Physics, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • | 3 Custom Climate Services, Regina, Alberta, Canada
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Abstract

Annual and seasonal trends in temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity, and specific humidity are presented for the period 1953–2005. The analysis uses hourly observations from 75 climatological stations across Canada. Data were examined for discontinuities due to changes in instruments and observing practice. It was found that the main discontinuity corresponds to the replacement of the psychrometer by the dewcel in the early 1970s, which created an artificial negative step in relative humidity and dewpoint at many locations. After accounting for these discontinuities, the results of trend analysis show evidence of an increase in air moisture content associated with the warming observed in the country. During winter and spring, the significant warming in the western and southern regions is accompanied by an increase in dewpoint and specific humidity and by a decrease in relative humidity; in summer, warming is observed in the southeast and it is associated with significant positive trends in dewpoint and specific humidity. Although there is no strong evidence of a greater nighttime warming in Canada over 1953–2005, the nighttime dewpoint and specific humidity trends are slightly larger than the daytime trends, especially during the spring and summer.

Corresponding author address: Lucie A. Vincent, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin St., Toronto, ON M3H 5T4, Canada. Email: Lucie.Vincent@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

Annual and seasonal trends in temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity, and specific humidity are presented for the period 1953–2005. The analysis uses hourly observations from 75 climatological stations across Canada. Data were examined for discontinuities due to changes in instruments and observing practice. It was found that the main discontinuity corresponds to the replacement of the psychrometer by the dewcel in the early 1970s, which created an artificial negative step in relative humidity and dewpoint at many locations. After accounting for these discontinuities, the results of trend analysis show evidence of an increase in air moisture content associated with the warming observed in the country. During winter and spring, the significant warming in the western and southern regions is accompanied by an increase in dewpoint and specific humidity and by a decrease in relative humidity; in summer, warming is observed in the southeast and it is associated with significant positive trends in dewpoint and specific humidity. Although there is no strong evidence of a greater nighttime warming in Canada over 1953–2005, the nighttime dewpoint and specific humidity trends are slightly larger than the daytime trends, especially during the spring and summer.

Corresponding author address: Lucie A. Vincent, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin St., Toronto, ON M3H 5T4, Canada. Email: Lucie.Vincent@ec.gc.ca

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