Great expectations: Improving climate data services

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 4:00 PM
B212 (GWCC)
Trisha U. Ralph, EC, Toronto, ON, Canada; and H. Lau and T. H. Sopoco

Presentation PDF (69.3 kB)

The demand for on-line historical climate data and information from both the public and private sectors has increased dramatically in recent years. Canada's National Climate Archives on-line website (http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/) is currently the second most popular Environment Canada website, behind only the WeatherOffice (forecast) page. The climate site averaged more than 220 000 visits per month with 6.9 million pages viewed and over 400 Gigabytes of climatic data downloaded in the first half of 2009. Due to the increasing popularity and demand, a new team was established in 2008 to improve and enhance the relevance, visibility and availability of historical climate data. A number of improvements to National Climate Archives on-line have been implemented such as the adoption of the new Common Look and Feel standards, which address the presentation and function of web-based content and keep the site aligned with all Government of Canada websites. Several other new features including real-time messaging, weather trivia, an historical radar image viewer, and the availability of downloadable publications from the National Climate Archives library have been deployed as well. Coincidently, a staggering 300% increase has been seen in the number of pages viewed per visit (from 15.3 in January to 47.2 in June 2009). A public opinion research study is planned to take place to obtain feedback and direction for future development of the site. This paper reviews the recent enhancements to the National Climate Archives on-line website and discusses plans to provide the improved services necessary to meet growing expectations from users.