Compute climate indicators on weather station data from ECCC’s API

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) offers an API to access daily weather station data. This notebook focus is on converting the JSON response from the server to an xarray.Dataset. At that point, it’s then easy to compute numerous climate indicators on the daily time series using xclim.


import os

os.environ["USE_PYGEOS"] = "0"  # force use Shapely with GeoPandas

import warnings

import numba

warnings.simplefilter("ignore", category=numba.core.errors.NumbaDeprecationWarning)

import urllib.request

import cf_xarray as cfxr
import geopandas as gpd
from urlpath import URL

# Compose the request
host = URL("")
api = host / "collections" / "climate-daily" / "items"
url = api.with_query(
        "datetime": "1840-03-01 00:00:00/2021-06-02 00:00:00",
        "STN_ID": "10761",
        "sortby": "LOCAL_DATE",

# Use geopandas to convert the json output to a GeoDataFrame.
with urllib.request.urlopen(url=str(url)) as req:
    gdf = gpd.read_file(filename=req, engine="pyogrio")
ERROR 1: PROJ: proj_create_from_database: Open of /home/docs/checkouts/ failed
0 7024745.1994.7.26 NaN None None None None 26 26.7 None M ... None M None None NaN None 4.5 MCTAVISH None POINT (-73.57917 45.50474)
1 7024745.1994.7.27 NaN None None None None 27 23.5 None M ... None M None None NaN None 1.2 MCTAVISH None POINT (-73.57917 45.50474)
2 7024745.1994.7.28 NaN None None None None 28 21.2 None M ... None M None None NaN None 0.0 MCTAVISH None POINT (-73.57917 45.50474)
3 7024745.1994.7.29 NaN None None None None 29 27.0 None M ... None M None None NaN None 0.0 MCTAVISH None POINT (-73.57917 45.50474)
4 7024745.1994.7.30 NaN None None None None 30 23.7 None M ... None M None None NaN None 1.2 MCTAVISH None POINT (-73.57917 45.50474)

5 rows × 36 columns

The next step is to convert the GeoDataFrame object into an xarray.Dataset, to do so, we’ve created some utilities packaged in cf-xarray to convert point geometries (the stations’ locations) into CF-compliant coordinates. The function below bundles a number of operations to prepare the data for further analysis.

def preprocessing(gdf):
    """Convert geojson data from the ECCC weather API into a CF-compliant dataset.

    - Rename variables names CF standard names
    - Assign units to variables
    - Mask values with a flag
    - Convert wind directions in tens of degrees to degrees
    - Fill gaps in time series with NaNs

    gdf : pandas.GeoDataFrame
      Data from the `` service.

      Dataset complete with units and CF-compliant temporal and spatial coordinates.

    DIRECTION_MAX_GUST is only reported if the maximum gust speed exceeds 29 km/h.
    A value of 0 or 360 means wind blowing from the geographic north, and 90 from the east.

    import pandas as pd
    import xarray as xr

    # Convert timestamp to datetime object
    gdf["time"] = gdf["LOCAL_DATE"].astype("datetime64[ns]")

    # Drop useless variables
    gdf = gdf.drop(["LOCAL_DATE", "LOCAL_YEAR", "LOCAL_MONTH", "LOCAL_DAY"], axis=1)

    # Convert to xarray.Dataset
    ds = gdf.set_index("time").to_xarray()

    # Convert geometries to CF - creates a features dimension
    ds = cfxr.geometry.reshape_unique_geometries(ds)
    coords = cfxr.shapely_to_cf(ds.geometry, grid_mapping="longitude_latitude")
    coords = coords.drop_vars(["geometry_container", "x", "y"])
    ds = xr.merge([ds.drop_vars("geometry"), coords])

    # Rename `features` dimension to `station`
    ds = ds.rename(features="station")

    # Mask values with a flag then drop flag variable
    for key in ds.data_vars:
        if key.endswith("_FLAG"):
            valid = ds[key].isnull()
            name = key.replace("_FLAG", "")
            ds[name] = ds[name].where(valid)
            ds = ds.drop_vars(key)

    # Convert wind gust from tens of degrees to degrees
    if "DIRECTION_MAX_GUST" in ds.data_vars:
        ds["DIRECTION_MAX_GUST"] *= 10

    # Assign units to variables
    # TODO: Add long_name and description from
    attrs = {
            "units": "degC",
            "standard_name": "air_temperature",
            "cell_methods": "time: mean within days",
        "MIN_TEMPERATURE": {
            "units": "degC",
            "standard_name": "air_temperature",
            "cell_methods": "time: min within days",
        "MAX_TEMPERATURE": {
            "units": "degC",
            "standard_name": "air_temperature",
            "cell_methods": "time: max within days",
            "units": "mm/day",
            "standard_name": "precipitation_flux",
        "TOTAL_RAIN": {
            "units": "mm/day",
        "TOTAL_SNOW": {"units": "mm/day", "standard_name": "solid_precipitation_flux"},
        "SNOW_ON_GROUND": {"units": "cm", "standard_name": "surface_snow_thickness"},
            "units": "degree",
            "standard_name": "wind_gust_from_direction",
        "SPEED_MAX_GUST": {
            "units": "km/h",
            "standard_name": "wind_speed_of_gust",
            "cell_methods": "time: max within days",
        "COOLING_DEGREE_DAYS": {"units": "degC days"},
        "HEATING_DEGREE_DAYS": {"units": "degC days"},
        "MIN_REL_HUMIDITY": {
            "units": "%",
            "standard_name": "relative_humidity",
            "cell_methods": "time: min within days",
        "MAX_REL_HUMIDITY": {
            "units": "%",
            "standard_name": "relative_humidity",
            "cell_methods": "time: max within days",

    for key in ds.data_vars:
        ds[key].attrs.update(attrs.get(key, {}))

    # Try to squeeze arrays of identical values along the time dimension
        ds[key] = squeeze_if_unique(ds[key], "time")

    # Reindex over continuous time series
    ts = pd.date_range(ds.time[0].values, ds.time[-1].values)
    return ds.reindex(time=ts)

def squeeze_if_unique(da, dim):
    """Squeeze dimension out of DataArray if all values are identical or masked.

    If a value is replicated along the time dimension, this function will return a
    DataArray defined only over the dimensions where values vary. If the resulting
    object is a scalar, it is converted to a global attribute.

    da : xr.DataArray
      Input values.
    dim : str
      Dimension to squeeze if possible.
    import numpy as np

    def n_unique(arr):
        return len(set(np.unique(arr)) - {""})

    if da.dtype == object:
        # Check if possible to squeeze along `dim`
        n = np.apply_along_axis(

        if (n == 1).all():
            return da.max(dim)  # Should avoid returning the null value.

        return da

    # else : int, float or datetime
    da_filled = da.ffill(dim).bfill(dim)
    if (da_filled.isel({dim: 0}) == da_filled).all():
        return da_filled.isel({dim: 0}, drop=True)

    return da

# Convert the GeoDataFrame to an xarray.Dataset
# Different stations are aligned along the `station` dimension
ds = preprocessing(gdf)
Dimensions:              (station: 1, time: 1061)
  * station              (station) int64 0
  * time                 (time) datetime64[ns] 1994-07-26 ... 1997-06-20
    lon                  (station) float64 -73.58
    lat                  (station) float64 45.5
Data variables: (12/18)
    id                   (station, time) object '7024745.1994.7.26' ... '7024...
    MAX_REL_HUMIDITY     (station, time) float64 nan nan nan ... 98.0 99.0 74.0
    SNOW_ON_GROUND       (station, time) object None None None ... None None
    MAX_TEMPERATURE      (station, time) float64 26.7 23.5 21.2 ... 25.0 25.9
    MIN_TEMPERATURE      (station, time) float64 17.3 15.6 17.0 ... 15.7 15.6
    ID                   (station, time) object '7024745.1994.7.26' ... '7024...
    ...                   ...
    COOLING_DEGREE_DAYS  (station, time) float64 4.0 1.6 1.1 3.7 ... 0.0 2.4 2.8
    TOTAL_RAIN           (station, time) object nan nan nan nan ... nan nan nan
    MIN_REL_HUMIDITY     (station, time) float64 nan nan nan ... 78.0 38.0 35.0
    TOTAL_SNOW           (station, time) object nan nan nan nan ... nan nan nan
    TOTAL_PRECIPITATION  (station, time) float64 4.5 1.2 0.0 0.0 ... 6.8 1.0 0.0
    STATION_NAME         (station) object 'MCTAVISH'

Computing climate indicators

In the next cell, we compute the monthly mean temperature from the daily observations. By default, xclim is very strict about missing values, marking any month with one missing value as entirely missing. Here we’ll use the WMO recommendation for missing data, where a month is considered missing if there are 11 days or more missing, or 5 consecutive missing values.

import xclim

with xclim.set_options(check_missing="wmo"):
    mtas = xclim.atmos.tg_mean(ds.MEAN_TEMPERATURE, freq="MS")
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt

name = ds.STATION_NAME.isel(station=0).values
plt.title(f"Mean monthly temperature at station {name}")