Even though rainfall and temperature can vary greatly over relatively short distances, the weather station is the only point from which SCIC has the weather data on which to base claim payments. These programs are driven from a network of 186 weather stations located throughout Saskatchewan with a few just over the borders in Alberta and Manitoba. Stations are distributed so that almost all agricultural land in the province is within 30 kilometres of an eligible weather station.
The intent of contracting third-party suppliers is ensure that SCIC has no direct influence over the collection or handling of weather data. Final values received from our third-party suppliers have never been adjusted by SCIC and therefore do not favour either the Corporation or its customers.
It is also important to note that SCIC staff, the Provincial Appeal Panel nor the Board of Directors have any legal authority to make payments under the weather-based programs that are not solely determined from the weather data collected.
Data Quality Control
Raw data from both Environment Canada and WIN stations undergo a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) process before being submitted to SCIC. This process is performed by WIN and has been reviewed and approved by an accredited meteorologist.
WIN’s primary quality assurance measure for temperature and precipitation is the use of dual temperature sensors, precipitation gauges and data loggers at each site. This nearly eliminates missing values and therefore the need to estimate values to complete the dataset.
The quality assurance process for precipitation data includes the following:
- Data from the dual gauges is compared; any anomalies are flagged for further investigation.
- Daily precipitation map of the province are produced for visual inspection of any anomalies.
- A daily map series is compared to look for any unusual patterns over time.
- Values are compared with other third-party daily precipitation datasets, like Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture's crop reporter data as required to review rainfall distribution.
- Where missing data occurs, GIS analysis and third-party data are used to estimate the missing values.
For temperature, the quality assurance process includes:
- Data from the dual temperature sensors is compared; any anomalies are flagged for further investigation.
- Maps for daily minimum and maximum temperatures are used to identify any anomalies for further investigation.
- Where missing data occurs, a GIS analysis of the nearest monitoring points is used to estimate the missing values.
The verification of raw weather data by WIN through the quality assurance/quality control process has several advantages for SCIC and its customers.
- Data is verified by an independent, non-biased third party using procedures approved by an accredited meteorologist.
- Any missing raw data (due to equipment malfunction, for example) can be supplemented using the best available data sources. For example, GIS interpolation and third-party data may be used as current programs require a complete dataset with no missing values.
- Any vandalism or tampering with weather stations (e.g., covering or pouring water into rain gauges) should be detected by the quality assurance/quality control process and values can be corrected.
Through the weather-based programs, Saskatchewan Crop Insurance continues to develop innovative insurance products that offer minimal administration for our customers. With weather data as the sole means of calculating claims, SCIC has taken every step to ensure that the program is sound and fair to all participants.