SNAP is happy to announce an update to our popular Community Charts tool. The tool now includes the latest climate data and extends our existing database of approximately 4,000 Alaska and Canada communities to Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT). Forty-seven NWT communities are now in the database. We thank the Government of the NWT for funding this work.
You can use the interactive Community Charts tool to explore temperature and precipitation histories and projections for these communities. Simply choose a community of interest and a few simple variables, and the tool does the rest. The graphs produced are useful for examining trends over time and key changes in threshold values. For example, higher mean monthly temperatures in the spring and fall could signify:
- a longer growing season,
- a loss of ice and/or frozen ground needed for travel or food storage, and/or
- a shift in precipitation from snow to rain, which impacts water storage capacity and surface water availability.
The new data in the Community Charts tool are the most recent sets of climate model outputs — known as CMIP5 — from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. These data informed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) — the most recent global climate assessment to date. The Community Charts tool now accounts for these most recent data in its projections of temperature and precipitation.
Why are the most recent data so important? Certainty that human activities have caused more than half of the observed temperature increase from 1951 to 2010 increased from very likely (at least 90% certain) in the 2007 AR4 report to extremely likely (at least 95% certain) in the 2013 AR5 report. That's a big change.
Using the CMIP5 model outputs ensures that the newest data with the highest degree of scientific confidence power our Community Charts tool and give users the best possible information. See more detail on CMIP models and how SNAP uses them in our climate scenario-building efforts.