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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Decision Support Systems Linking Agro-Climatic Indices with GCM-Originated Climate Change Scenarios

Key agro-climatic indices for the crops under study are defined (e.g., crop heat units, growing degree-days, effective growing degree-days, precipitation deficits, seasonal crop coefficients of water demand). Typically these indices are calculated using gridded monthly observed climatic normals for average daily maximum and minimum air temperature, total precipitation, and solar radiation.

Climate change scenarios are then obtained from the outputs of GCMs and different statistical packages are used for interpolating and downscaling the results (e.g., PRISM, ANUSPLIN). The agro-climatic indices are then recalculated for the climate change scenarios, and adaptive management options are explored (different crop species, different cultivars, sowing dates, etc.).

Appropriate Use To study expected shifts in the agro-climatic zones for different crop types under possible climate change scenarios, and to explore the adaptive ability of crop types and management options (planting date, cultivar types).
Scope Agro-ecological zone level (national, regional).
Key Output

Changes in crop yields, shifts in agro-ecological zones, relative to different climate change scenarios.

Key Input Gridded observed climate data, agro-climatic indices for different crop species and cultivars.
Ease of Use For trained agronomists and agro-climatologists.
Training Required Requires knowledge of agro-climatic indices, and methods for climatic data interpolation and downscaling (e.g., ANUSPLIN, PRISM).
Training Available See contacts below
Computer Requirements Windows-based PC
Documentation PRISM: Daly, C., R.P. Neilson, and D.L. Phillips. 1994. A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain. Journal of Applied Meteorology 33:140-158. ANUSPLIN: Information on ANUSPLIN Version 4.3 available at

Used by Canadian Climate Change Action Projects.

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Climate Change Impacts & Adaptation Directorate, Natural Resources Canada; e-mail:

Dr. A. Bootsma, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Tel: 613.759.1526; e-mail:

Dr. D. Neilsen, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Tel: 250.494.6417; e-mail:

Cost Not identified

Bootsma1, S.G. and D.W. McKenney. 2001. Adaptation of Agricultural Production to Climate Change in Atlantic Canada. Report for Climate Change Action Fund Project A214.

Neilsen, D., S. Smith, W. Koch, G. Frank, J. Hall, and P. Parchomchuk. 2001. Impact of Climate Change on Crop Water Demand and Crop Suitability in the Okanagan Valley, BC. Technical Bulletin 01-15. Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, British Columbia, Canada. pdf-icon