Extreme wind, severe flooding, fluctuating temperatures and changing precipitation patterns threaten the integrity of Canada’s infrastructure, and standardization solutions can help overcome these challenges. Understanding implications of our changing climate is the first step to identify how standards can help us adapt, make our infrastructure more climate resilient, and better protect our citizens and communities.
A new research report titled Standardization Guidance for Weather Data, Climate Information and Climate Change Projections, supported by the Standards Council of Canada and conducted by Ouranos, examines the state of climate information in our country and highlights how it can be integrated into infrastructure design decisions to make us more climate resilient and better able to adapt to a changing climate.
The research is a comprehensive overview of the state of weather data, climate information and climate change projections in Canada. The report provides recommendations for where standardized guidance could address current gaps and strengthen the integration of this information into infrastructure design.
By interviewing experts in the field, Ouranos gained insights into the collection, management and use of weather and climate data across Canada. This information is being used to derive infrastructure design, and develop recommendations for improving how future climate projections are being considered in infrastructure design.
Codes and standards guide design practitioners, engineers, owners and operators on the functionality, durability and safety of infrastructure over its life. Until now, this guidance has been developed based on the assumption of a stable climate. However, as our climate continues to change, engineers now need to account for both extreme and gradual changes. If the design and operation of infrastructure fail to take current and future climate conditions into consideration, these structures will not remain resilient throughout their lifespans.
This report offers a common understanding of priorities for standards in the gathering and use of weather and climate data in the infrastructure-design process. Key recommendations include:
- Develop a national data portal to catalogue relevant weather, climate and earth-observation data, along with user-oriented materials derived from these data.
- Develop guidelines and best practices to help engineers to understand and cope with climate uncertainty.
- Develop climate change design parameters for engineers.
Planning for climate change requires a thorough, robust and coordinated “climate data supply chain,” which involves using the best data, science, analytics and information available. This includes using all sources of data from monitoring stations and remote sensing to numerical climate models to inform future decisions. This important research and the recommendations in this report are the first step in helping Canada respond to changing climate patterns and build more resilient infrastructure.