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Development of scale-free climate data for Western Canada for use in resource management

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Abstract

Applying climate data in resource management requires matching the spatial scale of the climate and resource databases. Interpolating climate data in mountainous regions is difficult. In this study, we present methodology to generate scale-free climate data through the combination of interpolation techniques and elevation adjustments. We apply it to monthly temperature and precipitation normals for 1961–90 produced by the Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) for British Columbia, Yukon Territories, the Alaska Panhandle, and parts of Alberta and the United States. Equations were developed to calculate biologically relevant climate variables including various degree-days, number of frost-free days, frost-free period, and snowfall from monthly temperature and precipitation data. Estimates of climate variables were validated using an independent dataset from weather stations that were not included in the development of the model. Weather station records generally agreed well with estimated climate variables and showed significant improvements over original PRISM climate data. A stand-alone MS Windows application was developed to perform all calculations and to integrate future climate predictions from various global circulation models. We demonstrate the use of this application by showing how climate change may affect lodgepole pine seed planning zones for reforestation in British Columbia. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society.

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