19 Jul 2022
19 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

The hourly wind-bias adjusted precipitation data set from the Environment and Climate Change Canada automated surface observation network (2001–2019)

Craig D. Smith1, Eva Mekis2, Megan Hartwell2, and Amber Ross1 Craig D. Smith et al.
  • 1Environment and Climate Change Canada, Climate Research Division, Saskatoon, SK
  • 2Environment and Climate Change Canada, Climate Research Division, Toronto, ON

Abstract. The measurement of precipitation in the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) surface network is a crucial component for climate and weather monitoring, flood and water resource forecasting, numerical weather prediction and many other applications that impact the health and safety of Canadians. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, ECCC surface network modernization resulted in a shift from manual to automated precipitation measurements. Although many advantages to automation are realized, such as enhanced capabilities for monitoring in remote locations and higher frequency of observations at lower cost, the increased reliance on automated precipitation gauges has also resulted in additional challenges, especially with data quality and homogenization. The automated weighing precipitation gauges used in the ECCC operational network have an increased propensity for wind-induced undercatch of solid precipitation. One outcome of the WMO Solid Precipitation Inter-Comparison Experiment (SPICE) was the development of transfer functions for the adjustment of high frequency solid precipitation measurements made with gauge/wind shield configurations used in the ECCC surface network. Using the SPICE Universal Transfer Function (UTF), hourly precipitation measurements from 397 ECCC automated climate stations were retroactively adjusted for wind undercatch. The data format, quality control and adjustment procedures are described here. The hourly adjusted data set (2001–2019, version v2019UTF) is available via the ECCC data catalogue: (ECCC, 2021). A basic spatial impact assessment shows that the highest relative total precipitation adjustments occur in the Arctic where solid precipitation has an overall higher annual occurrence ratio. The highest adjustments for solid precipitation are shared by the Arctic, southern Prairies and the coastal Maritimes, where stations tend to be more exposed and snowfall events occur at higher wind speeds.

Craig D. Smith et al.

Status: open (until 13 Sep 2022)

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Craig D. Smith et al.

Data sets

Hourly wind-bias-adjusted precipitation data from the ECCC automated surface observation network Environment and Climate Change Canada

Craig D. Smith et al.


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Short summary
It is well understood that precipitation gauges under-estimate the measurement of solid precipitation (snow) as a result of systematic bias caused by wind. Relationships between wind speed and gauge catch efficiency of solid precipitation have been previously established and are applied to the hourly precipitation measurements made between 2001 and 2019 in the automated Environment and Climate Change Canada observation network. The adjusted data is available for download and use.