There are about 11 weather stations scattered across the entire north of Ontario. In the far north, there are only 4 stations (Pickle Lake, Big Trout Lake, Landsdowne House, and Moosonee), even though the land area represents nearly half of Ontario! For some stations, weather records have been kept for over 50 years, but for many, their data collection has only begun in the past 30 years. Communities are often located as far as 300 km from the nearest weather station. We can use this data to examine some regional trends, but it is important for communities to join in their own weather data collection, to monitor changes and for better planning. The Community Map below shows where the weather stations are located and how close they are to your community.
The images below capture the seasonal temperature changes that have been happening over the decades, for as long as the weather stations have collected data. The taller the bars, the more the temperature has changed. Yellow bars show warmer temperatures for that week compared to the past (the average for 1951-1979) and the blue bars show colder weekly temperatures. To see an example of a full climate story (temperature, growing season, precipitation, and more) click here: The Big Trout Lake Climate Story.
The Big Trout Lake Climate Story
There are not many weather stations in the far north of Ontario but one weather station near Big Trout Lake, Ontario has been collecting temperature, rain, and snow information since the early 1940s. This is one of the largest collections of weather information from Environment Canada in the far north of Ontario and is used to understand changes in climate for many First Nation communities in the surrounding areas. We use Big Trout Lake as an example below of what changes have occurred to the climate up north over a lifetime. This information can help us understand how the weather has changed over time and predict how it may change into the future.
Big Trout Lake, Ontario
Days are warmer now than they were in the 1950s
Weekly temperatures in Big Trout Lake, Ontario have gotten warmer since the 1950s, as shown in the animated circle at left.
Yellow bars show warmer temperatures than average over each week, while grey bars show colder than average temperatures over each week. The longer the bar, the bigger the difference in temperature.
Looking at this graphic, you can see the colour of the bars not only change to yellow but the bars also get larger into the 2010s.
Temperature has increased in all seasons in the north since 1980, especially in winter. Records from the monitoring station in Big Trout Lake show the changes very clearly.
There are more hot summer days than there were a lifetime ago
A lifetime ago, Big Trout Lake, Ontario had about 13 days per summer above 25°C.
In the 1980s, there were on average 16 days per summer above 25°C.
More recently, this same area is seeing about 22 days (almost a month) of days above 25°C per summer!
In the graph at left, the red line shows the average number of days above 25°C in Big Trout Lake, Ontario from the 1940s until 2016.
The grey lines are the actual temperature recordings for each year.
Watch as the red line moves upwards as the planet warms from climate change.
In the graph at left, the green line shows the average number of days with rain in Big Trout Lake, Ontario from the 1940s until 1990. The precipitation weather station stopped recording after 1990 in Big Trout Lake.
The grey lines are the actual number of days with rain for each year.
There are fewer cold days than there were in the 1980s
Frost days (minimum daily temperature of less than 0°C) have reduced by a week.
Ice days (maximum temperature in a day of less than 0°C) have reduced by 20 days (almost a month!)
Days of extreme cold (-40°C or below) have decreased by 2 days.
Cold spell days (6 consecutive days with a minimum temperature of -20°C or lower) have decreased by 8 days.
The frost-free season has been reduced by 3 days and starts 3 days later than it did in the 1980s.