The weather station used for this blog, is the Calgary International Airport. It sits at an elevation of 1,084 meters and lies in a relatively flat area.
As Calgary is a landlocked region, and predominantly a prairie region, the major climate control is the nearby Rocky Mountains. In addition, their high elevation allows the mountains to have a strong influence on their weather which leads it to be quite unstable and hard to predict. The Chinook winds (discussed earlier) that come down from the mountains can also increase temperatures dramatically for Calgary.
On a micro scale, the two major rivers that run through the city, the Bow River and the Elbow River, affect the climate by cooling the air around them. While most of the city is grassland and open area, there are parts, such as downtown, that is largely populated with buildings and people. This and other built up areas create an urban heat island where the temperature tends to be higher than the overall temperature of the city.
According to the Koppen/Geiger climate classification; Calgary is a BSk climate. The BS stands for a semiarid climate meaning that its precipitation is less than the potential evapotranspiration, and the k stands for a mid-latitude climate. Its mid-latitude cyclones (which allow the region to receive more precipitation) are also what make this a semiarid climate versus an arid climate.
Below is a chart that describes both the average and record temperatures for Calgary, Alberta. Because of its high elevation there can be a large difference in the high and low temperatures on a given day, as the graph suggests.
(Summarized from Canada’s National Climate Data and Information Achieves)
This second graph (below) depicts the average high and low in both January and July (the warmest and coldest months) over a 25 year period of 1985-2010. There is a trend line in each to show the overall average trends. In general Calgary appears to follow a consistent summer weather trend with a small increase in temperature of the years. However, their winters vary. 1995-1998 saw some of the colder winters, while recent winters have seen milder temperatures. The trend lines show that the average temperatures are decreasing contrasting to warmer temperatures they have been seeing. Again this graph also shows the large variability in high temperatures to low temperatures in a given month.
(Summarized from the NCDC for the Calgary International Airport, http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/orders/111825.pdf)
Calgary, Alberta vs. Dickinson North Dakota
Similarly to Calgary, Dickinson is a predominantly prairie and grassland region. However, while Dickinson sits at an elevation of 735 meters, Calgary sits at an elevation of 1,084 meters. Their temperatures are similar, although Dickinson does see warmer summers than Calgary in addition to being humid (unlike Calgary). Both climates experience Maritime Tropic, Continental Polar, and Continental Artic air masses. Maritime Tropic being associated with the summer months and Continental Polar and Continental Artic air masses associated with the winter months. The Continental Artic can bring sub-zero temperatures to both places. In addition, they both experience mid-latitude cyclones.
One of the biggest differences between the two places is that Dickinson does not have any mountains while Calgary has the Rocky Mountains. These mountains highly influence the temperatures in Calgary as well as provide them with the Chinook winds. Though both again have a similar geography the mountains and altitude are what sets these places a part.
(Tessa Bopp http://dickinsonndweather.blogspot.com/)