Providing OGC Services for Canadian Climate Data

Contributed by: 
Derek Van Der Kamp, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Tom Kralidis, Meteorological Service of Canada.


The Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) is a multi-disciplinary team with expertise across a broad range of climate-related disciplines. Our goal at the CCCS is to help Canadians increase their resilience to climate change. CCCS aims to do this by helping to improve Canadians understanding of how the climate is changing and how these changes may affect them. Additionally, CCCS provides guidance and resources to help Canadians use this knowledge for making climate-smart decisions when planning for the future.

CCCS conducts outreach and engagement activities to assess what kinds of data, information, and tools Canadians need to incorporate climate change into their decisions. CCCS also provides access to climate data, tools, and information from across the country. CCCS strives to provide authoritative, timely, and relevant climate services by working in partnership with different levels of government and regional climate organizations.

CCCS is using OGC Web Services to provide 9 climate datasets from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Four of these datasets are subsets of the Meteorological Service of Canada’s archive of climate station observations. Some of these stations date back to the late 19th century. Users can also access a network of over 2700 hydrometric stations recording river flows and levels.

There is also five gridded climate datasets. This includes two datasets that provide both historical and future output from Global Climate models at up to a monthly resolution. One of these datasets is a high-resolution “downscaled” product that has a resolution of around 10 km. CCCS also provides a gridded precipitation product for all of Canada which is updated daily.

CCCS provides various tools for display and download of climate data. The climate data viewer provides visualization capabilities of historical, future changes in climate, as well as historical climate observations and hydrometric station data. The climate data extraction tool provides a user interface to query and download capabilities data with custom filters (by province, station, temporal range, data formats).

Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) in-browser Climate Data Viewer
Figure 1: Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) in-browser Climate Data Viewer

CCCS provides numerous data access mechanisms for a variety of users, including the general public, science/research, and web application developers. As a baseline, all data is made available through a Web Accessible Folder allowing for flat file access. OGC Web Services are provided by the Meteorological Service of Canada’s GeoMet, providing dynamic access for maps (WMS) and gridded data (WCS) for broad interoperability (download formats include GeoTIFF and NetCDF). Historical climate observations and hydrometric station data are made available using the emerging Web Feature Service 3 standard (download formats include GeoJSON and CSV).

Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) in-browser Climate Data Extraction Tool
Figure 2: Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) in-browser Climate Data Extraction Tool

An important factor of success in supplying this data is the use of international standards, which ensure the interoperability of information and data access across a wide range of networked data processing systems. As a result of collaboration between OGC and WMO, MSC implements OGC and ISO standards to benefit key initiatives such as the WMO Information System (WIS) and the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS). These initiatives dovetail with national and international open data efforts, which allow for a ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach in achieving broad interoperability using international standards.

For more information on CCCS data services, please see the Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) data access page.

Derek Van Der Kamp is a Physical Scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Tom Kralidis is a Senior Systems Scientist at the Meteorological Service of Canada.