AAFC launches new online tool to report agroclimate impacts

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has created a new application that Canadians can access over the Internet to report on how weather and climate conditions are affecting their farm operations. The Agroclimate Impact Reporter (AIR) is an online tool for the collection, integration and display of agroclimate impact information across Canada. This information will enable AAFC to better understand the local and regional effects of agroclimate conditions and identify emerging risks to the broader agricultural sector.

AIR is Canada’s first geospatial database of agroclimate impacts. It is managed by AAFC’s National Agroclimate Information Service (NAIS). Data are provided by a network of volunteers who submit monthly reports about the agroclimate impacts in their region. These reports complement other types of weather and climate data and play a valuable role in helping AAFC evaluate climate-related risks to agriculture.

Users of the new online tool will be able to submit reports of weather impacts within their region (province, census district or municipality) by time period and by category and severity of impact. They will also be able to view counts of all weather impacts, display current or archived information as maps, search reports by user types, make data queries and overlay other existing or custom geospatial information. AIR simplifies on-the-ground data collection. Once a month, AIR volunteers complete a report of 20 to 30 questions; for example, “To what extent are you experiencing flood conditions in your area?”

Extreme weather events and climatic variability can have significant effects on Canada’s agricultural sector. Over the past 10 years, drought and excess moisture or flooding have resulted in enormous costs to the Canadian economy. Monitoring the impacts of weather on water supplies, soil degradation and agricultural production is essential to enable regions to make preparations to withstand climate extremes in a more informed manner.

To learn more or to join the volunteer network, visit AIR at www.agr.gc.ca/air.

Currently, the AIR network involves industry partners and 300 volunteer producers across the three Prairie Provinces and the Peace River region of British Columbia. Discussions to expand the existing network across Canada are under way. It originated in the late 1990s as a way of collecting regional information on forage production and farm water supplies to assist in monitoring drought. In 2012, AAFC expanded this activity to include a wide range of weather- and climate-related risks to agriculture.

AAFC’s NAIS monitors weather and climate conditions and their impacts on agriculture across Canada. This information then helps AAFC to determine and better develop appropriate response, adaptation and mitigation measures against potential disasters arising from extreme weather events and climatic variability. NAIS also creates decision-support tools, such as integrated watershed and landscape planning and crop yield forecasts, which contribute to better on-farm management.

Organizations: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan

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