Long-term temperature variation




Temperature and precipitation are the two most commonly used variables to demonstrate changes in climate.

Global studies, including the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, show that the Arctic is warming more quickly than other regions.

Climatic changes have started to impact the distribution and abundance of vegetation, fish and wildlife in Yukon. Climate change is also affecting Yukon infrastructure, economy and communities.


Yukon River Valley, Whitehorse. R. Cherepak.



What is happening?


Annual temperature

Monitoring the temperature departures from the average over the past 30 years helps us to understand the rate and extent of changes occurring in Yukon.

  • Temperature variability is measured by the departure from a baseline—the 30-year average from 1961–1990. Temperature departures are given as a change in ºC from this average (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Yukon annual temperature variation, 1950-2016.


    Over the past 50 years:

  • Yukon annual average temperature has increased by 2ºC, twice the global rate.


Projected temperature
  • Global studies, including the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, show that climate scenarios project a significant increase in temperature over the next 50 years (Figure 2).
  • Winters are warming more than other seasons, with an average increase of 4ºC.


Figure 2: Yukon projected annual temperature anomalies (A2, A1B, B1)


  • The three different lines in Figure 2 represent three potential temperature futures based on emissions scenarios developed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • All scenarios show an increase in temperature and its variability.


Taking action


The Government of Yukon partnered with the Northern Climate ExChange at Yukon College on developing a Yukon Climate Change Indicators and Key Findings report. This cross-sector, structured, evidence-based assessment of Yukon climate change knowledge synthesizes our current understanding, providing researchers, decision-makers and the general public with an objective overview of the climate system and any potential changes. Temperature change and projections are two indicators presented in this report.

Reducing GHG emissions in Yukon will help to reduce the long-term negative impacts of the trends presented in this indicator.

Yukon River. Richard Legner.


Data quality

  • The data are exclusively from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Trends and Variations Bulletins.
  • The data spans from 1948 to present and are complete.
  • Northern B.C. is included in Environment and Climate Change Canada’s regional separation of the data, meaning results could be skewed towards southern Yukon.



Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Teaching and Working Farm


The hard work of the students and staff at the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Teaching Farm bear fruit this past summer (Photo courtesy of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in).


Nän käk nishi tr’ënòshe gha hëtr’ohǫh’ąy
“On the land we learn to grow our food”

The ability to grow local food is becoming an increasingly important topic in northern communities. Warming temperatures as a result of climate change are providing longer shoulder seasons and warmer growing seasons for agricultural pursuits in the north.

What is happening?

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, in partnership with Yukon College, have created a unique practical teaching and working farm in the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in (TH) First Nation, just outside of Dawson City. The teaching farm’s fundamental goals include preserving a way of life based upon a respectful and spiritual relationship with the land while also providing a consistent sustainable source of fresh vegetables year round. This unique method of experiential teaching at the working farm provides an on-the-land opportunity to learn about, grow, and harvest traditional indigenous foods, in addition to obtaining the skills to sustainably and respectfully grow food in a northern environment.

Both abiotic and biotic components are being studied on the farm. Some of these components include soils, existing vegetation, topography, hazards, permafrost, irrigation and watercourses, heritage values, and fish and wildlife. Students also learn skills for the reclamation and preservation of indigenous plants and shrubs that are culturally significant to the TH, including plants used for traditional medicines and food.

Some of the topics the students are learning about are:

  • sustainable soils and water management;
  • plant science;
  • integrated pest management (IPM);
  • animal agriculture;
  • market and fruit crop production;
  • farm business planning and management;
  • forage crop production;
  • small farm construction;
  • traditional food practices;
  • seed saving;
  • medicinal plants;
  • equipment operation and maintenance;
  • first aid; and
  • food handling.

The inaugural class of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Teaching Farm gathers to learn a range of skills, from electric fence construction to carpentry and basic botany. Photo courtesy of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.


While the program was developed for the benefit of TH citizens, there were participants from other First Nations as well as one non-First Nation student. The age, education, and agricultural experience of the students varied, which enhanced the overall experience of the students.

The farm fosters a healthy respect for the environment and a rewarding use of the land for TH citizens and all community members. Students are able to develop the skills to start their own farm or to seek employment in other farm-oriented businesses. Selling the vegetables also provides a way to make a living in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

A student displays some of the fresh produce grown at the Teaching Farm, which was created in partnership with the Yukon College and Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. (Photo source: https://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/research/project/trondek_hwechin_teaching_and_working_farm)





Environment and Climate Change Canada, Climate Research Branch. 2014-2015. Climate Trends and Variations Bulletins [modified 2016 Mar 22; cited 2016 Mar 3]. Available from: http://ec.gc.ca/sc-cs/default.asp?lang=En&n=A3837393-1.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2014. Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. Available from: http://ar5-syr.ipcc.ch/.

Streicker, J. 2016. Yukon Climate Change Indicators and Key Findings 2015. Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Available from: https://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/research/abstracts/indicators.