The Ins and Out of the Ontario Climate Change Data Portal

In 2018, we launched a user-friendly, accessible Ontario Climate Data Portal to provide the most robust climate change projections for Ontario. In this paper, we presented from a more scientific perspective, the portal’s structure and functions, extensive datasets, and data development methodology.
The Ins and Out of the Ontario Climate Change Data Portal

As more and more people are coming to recognize the reality of climate change, focus is turning to the threats it poses to our planet; its environment, its people and our way of living. The answers to these questions are of critical importance to ensure we understand the adaptations required to safeguard our health and natural environment; needed to sustain a strong economy. Canadians and the Canadian government are strong supporters of climate change science. The announcement of the Ontario Climate Change Data Portal provides the public with the most comprehensive and reliable synthesis of scientific information on how climate will change, within the Province of Ontario. It not only allows citizens the opportunity to explore how climate has behaved in the past, even in the remotest areas of the Province, but provides a platform to peer into the future using the most credible scientific forecasts available worldwide. The data portal will enable scientists and climate change practitioners from all sectors of society, to anticipate how changes in the environment are most likely to unfold and develop the adaptive actions required. It will also provide an invaluable source of data and training for the undergraduate and graduate students in our universities who are emerging to answer the challenges of tomorrow.

Figure Caption: Here, the OCDP visualizes the current climactic conditions in the map, and listed in the table are the anticipated future climatic conditions under all IPCC RCPs (for at any selected location). The values in the table shown here are for a location close to the Aubrey Falls Provincial Park northwest of Sudbury, which could see as much as 5.5°C temperature rise by 2050s, and an 8.6°C temperature rise by 2080s under the IPCC’s business as usual (RPC 8.5) scenario.

The publication highlighting features of the data portal (Zhu et al., 2020) was spearheaded by Dr. Huaiping Zhu, director of LAMPS (Laboratory of Mathematical Parallel Systems) at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and relied heavily on the expertise of Dr. Ziwang Deng of LAMPS and the Department of Mathematics. Contributors include Dr. John Liu of the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Dr. Steven Chen and Xiaolan Zhou of LAMPS and the Department of Mathematics, York University, Dr. Xin Qiu, SLR Consulting (Canada) Ltd, and Dr. Richard Bello of the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.

A project of this scope cannot be undertaken without sustained collaborations, and we extend our sincerest gratitude to our partners at the University of Toronto and the University of Regina and especially, to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, without their support we could not have completed this project. Also, we are grateful to numerous developers of open source software. These publicly-available software packages, allowed us to integrate our data into the portal in an accessible manner.


Huaiping Zhu, Jinliang Liu, Xiaolan Zhou, Xiaoyu Chen, Xin Qiu, Richard L Bello, Ziwang Deng. (2020) The Ontario Climate Data Portal, a user-friendly portal of Ontario-specific climate projections. Nature Scientific Data. DOI : 10.1038/s41597-020-0489-4 (DOI will be updated by May 19).

Huaiping Zhu, Ziwang Deng, Jinliang Liu, Xin Qiu, Xiaoyu Chen, Xiaolan Zhou. (2018) A Look at Ontario’s Climate of the Future with the Ontario Climate Data Portal (OCDP).

This project is mostly about data, so the biggest challenge we faced was finding suitable and credible sources of information for our project. Although there is a long history of observational data in parts of Ontario, most of the weather stations are located in the most-populated southern part of the Province, and many of them do not have records long enough for our study. There are fewer conventional observation stations over the vast areas in Northern Ontario, nor stations with continuous records of sufficient length. Fortunately, there are several high quality and high resolution reanalysis datasets which have been validated and widely used by many researchers as a proxy for observations. One of the major advantages of these reanalysis datasets is that they have the above-mentioned data gaps filled by integrating satellite, radar and other remote sensing data into them in a dynamically comprehensive way, called assimilation. These reanalysis datasets are very useful for helping us understand past climate change in remote areas.

Our data portal provides many commonly used indicators, including those for extreme weather/climate events that many people are most interested in. As climate change science is a multi-disciplinary science, some of the indicators are more commonly used than others. So, now it’s time to think about enhancing ways to present the data so that we can extend its reach and make it more accessible to all.

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