The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences

The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) is the main funding body for university-based research on climate, atmospheric and related oceanic work in Canada. It was established in 2000 as an autonomous Foundation, and in 2001 attained charitable status. In 2009, its mandate was extended from March 2011 to March 2012. As of December, 2009, the Foundation had invested over $117 million in university-based research related to climate and atmospheric sciences, in 24 collaborative networks, 2 major initiatives, and 158 projects. Several of the networks are linked to international research programs; all involved multiple partners. Complementary (leveraged) support for networks has doubled the resources available to them. The Foundation has also hosted or co-hosted a number of workshops and symposia on topics such as extreme weather and Arctic climate, and provides support to international project offices.

CFCAS Vision

CFCAS enhances Canada’s scientific capacity by funding the generation and dissemination of knowledge in areas of national importance and policy relevance, through focused support for excellent university-based research in climate and atmospheric sciences.

Research interests and Foundation operations

CFCAS supports efforts to:

  • Understand our climate system, high-impact weather, air quality and ocean-atmosphere interactions;
  • Improve weather predictions;
  • Generate skilled human resources;
  • Provide scientific information to support federal policymaking and service delivery.

CFCAS research grants indirectly promote:

  • Job creation and the retention of skilled researchers;
  • Economic growth and sustainable development;
  • Technological innovation for weather and other environment industries;
  • Weather security and human health issues.

CFCAS is differentiated from other funding bodies by its targeting of support (e. g. to strategic themes), its ability to respond to national needs or scientific imperatives, and its partnerships. CFCAS-funded work provides new knowledge to policymakers, weather forecasters, businesses and governments. CFCAS also facilitates progress on international environmental commitments.

Current Developments

CFCAS is currently preparing a report to Canadians on the science of climate change. It continues to support projects as well as major group and networked initiatives, stimulate research in priority areas, foster work on the impacts of our changing climate and encourage multidisciplinary research.

CFCAS-funded research is increasing Canada’s intellectual resources in climate and atmospheric sciences through training and retention of researchers, helping generate and disseminate relevant new knowledge, increasing the transfer of scientific findings to stakeholders and raising Canada’s scientific profile internationally. Benefits include better information to support policy development, improved operational forecasting, better adaptation to climate changes and more effective management of climate-related risks.


The Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors drawn from all sectors and regions of Canada. It has a Secretariat based in Ottawa and six full-time staff.


The Foundation was incorporated with Letters Patent on February 23, 2000 as a not-for-profit corporation at arm’s length from government.

The Fund

$60,000,000 was received from the federal government on April 27, 2000 and was invested in government securities as specified in the Foundation’s funding Agreement. The Fund was split into: (i) operations, and (ii) grants, with the investments accruing directly to the relevant categories. The investments were set up for the best possible return and reinvestment strategies, and with staggered maturity dates.

In February 2003 the Government announced a $50 million funding boost to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. This has enabled the Foundation to continue its support for university-based research in climate and atmospheric sciences. The increase brought the Foundation’s budget to $110 million and extended its life to 2010. Funding stability has allowed the Foundation to support new networks and projects, to extend some current networks, to promote transfer of research results to the user community and to continue to serve Canada’s climate needs. It also allowed the Foundation to act on recommendations from past workshops and from a mid-term evaluation of the Foundation’s operations. The Foundation has now invested $116.6 million in university-based research related to climate and atmospheric sciences.

The Foundation has received no federal funding since 2003 and its current support for research will cease in 2010.