Temporal and Spatial Changes of the Agroclimate in Alberta, Canada, from 1901 to 2002
Journal of applied meteorology (1988)
This paper analyzes the long-term temporal trends in the agroclimate of Alberta, Canada, and explores the spatial variations of the agroclimatic resources and the potential crop-growing area in Alberta. Nine agroclimatic parameters are investigated: May-August precipitation (PCPN), the start of growing season (SGS), the end of the growing season (EGS), the length of the growing season (LGS), the date of the last spring frost (LSF), the date of the first fall frost (FFF), the length of the
... length of the frost-free period (FFP), growing degree-days (GDDs), and corn heat units (CHUs). The temporal trends in the agroclimatic parameters are analyzed by using linear regression. The significance tests of the trends are made by using Kendall's tau method. The results support the following conclusions. 1) The Alberta PCPN has increased 14% from 1901 to 2002, and the increment is the largest in the north and the northwest of Alberta, then diminishes (or even becomes negative over two small areas) in central and southern Alberta, and finally becomes large again in the southeast corner of the province. 2) No significant long-term trends are found for the SGS, EGS, and LGS. 3) An earlier LSF, a later FFF, and a longer FFP are obvious all over the province. 4) The area with sufficient CHU for corn production, calculated according to the 1973-2002 normal, has extended to the north by about 200-300 km, when compared with the 1913-32 normal, and by about 50-100 km, when compared with the 1943-72 normal; this expansion implies that the potential exists to grow crops and raise livestock in more regions of Alberta than was possible in the past. The annual total precipitation follows a similar increasing trend to that of the May-August precipitation, and the percentile analysis of precipitation attributes the increase to low-intensity events. The changes of the agroclimatic parameters imply that Alberta agriculture has benefited from the last century's climate change.