Community Assessment & Adaptation Options:

Saskatoon location
Figure 1: Location of Saskatoon, Moist Mixed Grassland Ecoregion

Saskatoon is located in central Saskatchewan along the South Saskatchewan River within the Moist Mixed Grassland Ecoregion. Saskatoon is Saskatchewan's largest city, and a thriving manufacturing, retail, service, distribution, education and hi-tech centre. The University of Saskatchewan and its associated research park is nationally significant as an education centre for numerous faculties, agricultural research and the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron. Saskatoon hosts numerous tourist facilities and special events including Meewasin Valley Authority, SaskPlace, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival and Wanaskewin Heritage Park north of the city.

Figure 2: South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon

The Moist Mixed Grassland Ecoregion is home to over 55% of the provincial population, and encompasses other major urban centres including Regina, Moose Jaw, Weyburn and Estevan. The ecoregion is dominated by agriculture, being approximately 80% cultivated. Numerous dams and reservoirs are present. Other economic activity includes production of oil and gas, potash, salt and coal. Natural vegetation is primarily mid-grasses and short-grasses with aspen woodlands restricted to sloughs and coulees. Aspen stands have been expanding as a result of a reduced incidence of wildfire. Native habitat and cropland are important wildlife habitat for upland mammals and waterfowl.

Climate Normals (1971-2000)

  • The average daily temperature ranges from -16.4°C in January to 18.3°C in July with 5 months being below 0 (November to March). The lowest average daily minimum temperature is -21.6°C experienced in January and the highest average daily maximum temperature of 24.6°C is experienced in July. 
  • The annual precipitation is about 350 mm of which 76% is rainfall and the remainder is snow. 52% falls in the months of April, May, June, July. 
  • The average monthly wind speed is between 15.5 (July) and 17.2 km/hr (April)
  • An indication of the demand for cooling and heating is provided by the number of degree days above 18°C - 123.6; and the number of degree days below 18°C - 5749.4.
  • There are a total of 2328 sunshine hours per year with a minimum of 22 days of measurable sunshine in November and over 30 days in July and August.

Future Climate

Over the century to 2100 climate scenarios suggest:

  • A warmer climate - temperatures may generally rise 2 to 4 degrees.
  • A longer growing season - but drier despite an increase in precipitation to about 400 to 450 mm. This is a result of increased summer temperatures and increased evapostranspiration.
  • The demand for summer cooling could increase almost 2 to 2.5 times.
  • A shorter, milder winter. Heating requirements may be reduced by 14% to 22%.
  • Expect more frequent and more intense extreme events (e.g. heavy precipitation or drought). Droughts will likely increase in intensity and frequency

Regional Adaptation Options

  • Under climate change, the primary issue for communities, agriculture and other economic activities will be water and sewer management to handle both flood and drought situations. Saskatoon is fortunate to have a secure water supply. 
  • Xeriscaping (low water landscaping) and urban forest retention should be priorities. This may require introducing new plant species, changes to irrigation schedules, and pest management practices. (see City of Saskatoon website)
  • Monitor park vegetation and manage for potential increased use.
  • Ensure emergency preparedness plans address extreme weather events (such as heat waves) and associated health risks.
  • Build new urban infrastructure to climate-appropriate code.

Sources of Additional Information:

The following documents advise on adaptation and communities:

  • SD 2005-03 Prairie Cities
    How Adaptable are Prairie Cities to Climate Change? is a PARC summary document focused on our Prairie communities
  • FCM Climate Change pub
    FCM Climate Change pub

Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities

A tool that will help municipalities and communities develop a better understanding of adaptation. It represents a starting point for municipalities and communities that have not yet formally considered adaptation in their planning processes. For municipalities and communities already engaged in developing adaptation mechanisms, it can be used to enhance understanding of adaptation throughout the local decision-making community.


  1. Acton, D.F., Padbury,G.A., Stushnoff,C.T. (1998): The Ecoregions of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina and Saskatchewan, Environment and Resource Management.
  2. Barrow, E. (2009b): Climate Scenarios for Saskatchewan. PARC Summary Document No. 09-01, 15p
  3. Barrow, E. (2009b): Climate Scenarios for Saskatchewan. PARC Summary Document No. 09-01, 15p
  4. Canadian Plains Research Centre (2005): Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Ecozones and Ecoregions.  
  5. Environment Canada (2010): National Climate Data and Information Archive, Canadian Climate Normals website; station ID: 3328, Saskatoon
  6. Mehdi, B. (2006): Adapting to Climate Change: An Introduction for Canadian Municipalities. Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN). 32 p
  7. Saskatchewan (2010). Saskbiz, Community Profiles: Saskatoon
  8. Wittrock, V. (2005): How Adaptable are Prairie Cities to Climate Change? Current and Future Impacts and Adaptation Strategies. PARC Summary Document No. 05-03, 12 p. [accessed March 18, 2010]