CH PhD student wins AGU Cryosphere Innovation Award

At the Fall AGU Meeting in San Francisco this December, Christopher Marsh was successful in the Flash Freeze competition for a Cryosphere Innovation Award.

The award is given in recognition of innovative student-led research in the Cryospheric Sciences. The Innovation Award for Cryospheric Sciences is awarded once a year to students within the Cryosphere section who show great potential and innovative work within the field, to provide the students with resources, in the form of mini-grants, to advance their innovation. Innovative projects may include but are not limited to instrument design, model adaptation, field techniques, studies in new geographic regions, studies involving new collaborations including interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations, science communication and education, and remote sensing methods.

Chris won the award for his presentation The Canadian Hydrological Model: a Multiscale, Multiphysics, Variable Resolution Mesh Simulation System for Cold Regions.

More details are available here and here.

Canmore Press Profiles New Coldwater Lab

Canmore’s Crag & Canyon has published an article profiling CH’s Coldwater Laboratory.

The lab. has just moved to new premises in the town from its former site at the University of Calgary’s BioGeoSciences Institute in Kananaskis Country, where it was established in 2009.

The new facility will provide the base for an augmented complement of scientists studying processes related to water, snow and ice in the S.E. Canadian Rockies, funded by the University of Saskatchewan’s new Global Water Futures program.

The article is available online here.

CH Members on Agenda at Climate Extremes Workshop

CH members John Pomeroy, Howard Wheater and Bob Sandford have been asked to speak at Climate Extremes – a National Collaboration on Floods and Droughts, a workshop being organised by the Canadian Water Resources Association and Canadian Society for Hydrological Science in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The workshop aims to explore resources, challenges and opportunities in water management related to flooding and droughts, from both Canadian and international perspectives. It is to take place in Ottawa on Friday 27th January 2017.

Registration details are available here, and a draft agenda (as of 6 December 2016) is posted here.



Coldwater Lab Moves to Canmore

On December 1st 2016, CH’s Coldwater Laboratory moved from the Barrier Lake Field Station in Kananaskis Country to new offices in central Canmore.

The new premises (shown below), at #116, 1151 Sidney Street, provide more convenient access, additional space, and improved internet connectivity.

The new home of the Coldwater Laboratory

The new home of the Coldwater Laboratory

New Coldwater Laboratory - outside view

New Coldwater Laboratory – outside view

CH Research Reports on Accelerating Melt of Canadian Glaciers

Research involving CH scientists has found that major glaciers in the Canadian Rockies are melting increasingly rapidly. This is primarily the result of a combination of less annual snowfall and higher temperatures in spring and summer, leading to the loss of multi-year snow or firn. Without this bright white insulating blanket, which has in the past helped to protect and preserve the glaciers through the warmer months, the ice absorbs greater amounts of solar energy and so melts more rapidly. Estimates from measurementys taken through the summer of 2016 suggest that around one metre of ice depth was lost every month, beginning several weeks earlier than usual as a result of early warm temperatures. This in turn does not bode well for water resources across the prairies through the growing seasons of years to come, as the major river systems rely largely on meltwater to maintain their flows.

The article is available on the original site here, and also as a PDF.

Flood Risks of Fort McMurray Rebuild Flagged

In an interview with the CBC, Prof. John Pomeroy has suggested that the decision to rebuild homes in Fort McMurray’s Waterways subdivision following the fire of May 2016 may be setting-up residents for further disruption in years to come.

While this option for Fort McMurray’s oldest subdivision was preferred by a majority of residents, Prof. Pomeroy points-out that while changing climatic conditions may in some cases cause unusually dry conditions (as they did in the spring of 2016, thereby creating conditions for the fire to take hold), they are also predicted to result in a greater likelihood of flooding due to sudden snowmelt or major storms. It follows that those who lost their homes due to the fire, and wish to stay on in this known floodplain, are redoubling the risk of further losses as a result of future natural disasters.

The interview is reported in detail here.

CH Partners with NASA for Snow Measurement Course

NASA’s International Snow Working Group – Remote Sensing (iSWGR) will run an intensive course in snow measurement techniques in partnership with CH’s Coldwater Laboratory in Kananaskis Country from 5th to 9th January 2017.


From the official course website

This three-day intensive field-based course will give fundamental training to students in performing and analyzing snow measurements, including depth, density, snow water equivalence, grain size and shape, stratigraphy, temperature and hardness. Students completing this course will be able to perform high-quality fieldwork as well as design studies requiring snowpack measurements, and upon completion of the course will be capable of performing quality measurements required during snow remote sensing calibration and validation campaigns. Class credit will be offered through the University of Saskatchewan.

Who: Students
The course is aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, professionals and senior scientists, modelers and those who do snow remote sensing that will either need to make snow measurements as part of their research, or use snowpack data in their research. There are no prerequisites, but students will be selected from the pool of applicants based on applicability to their studies.  Successful applicants will be notified by December 15, 2016. Students from any nation may apply.

Who: Instructors
Dr Kelly Elder

  US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Dr Matthew Sturm
  Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Dr John Pomeroy
  Director, Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan
Dr Jessica Lundquist
  Mountain Hydrology Research, University of Washington
Dr Alexandre Langlois
  Centre d’applications et de recherches en télédétection, Université de Sherbrooke
Dr Nicholas Kinar
  Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan

NASA funding is pending (and expected) for the 2017 course. Students will be reimbursed for travel, food, and lodging enroute the Barrier Lake field station, where lodging and meals will be provided. Travel expenses may include airfare, taxi or bus for airport access, and shuttle from Calgary Airport. Car rental will not be reimbursed. Receipts for all the above expenses should be kept and information about processing will be provided at the course. Please make every effort to minimize travel costs. Questions about rates, fees, and reimbursements should be sent to Cindy Brekke at NSIDC.

For course information contact: Dr Matthew Sturm  and indicate Snow School in the subject line.

Full details are available on the course website.

CH To Play Key Role in Major New CFREF Water Initiative

Professor John Pomeroy will serve as the Associate Program Director of the largest ever water research initiative, led by the U. of S. and announced this week.

Global Water Futures: Solutions to Water Threats in an Era of Global Change has been provided with major funding of $77.8 million over seven years by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

The program aims to develop new approaches to forecasting and mitigating water-related threats, such as floods, droughts and degraded water quality, within the context of changing climatic conditions, expanding economies and population growth. It will involve researchers from an impressive range of universities, government agencies, communities and industries around the world, as illustrated by the image below.


Professor Pomeroy writes –

Global Water Futures (GWF) is a newly announced $143 million research programme funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, several universities and industry. GWF’s overarching goal is to deliver risk management solutions—informed by leading-edge water science and supported by innovative decision-making tools—to manage water futures in Canada and other cold regions where global warming is changing landscapes, ecosystems, and the water environment. End-user needs will be our beacon and will drive strategy and shape our science as we focus on three main goals:

1) Deliver new capability for providing disaster warning to governments, communities and the public, including Canada’s first national flood forecasting and seasonal flow forecasting systems, new drought warning capability, and water quality models and monitoring that warn of hazards to health and drinking water supply;

2) Diagnose and predict water futures to deliver improved scenario forecasting of changing climate, landscape and water for the future, with information outputs tailored to the needs of users. This will enable us, for example, to assess risks to human health from changing flood, drought and water quality; and

3) Develop new models, tools and approaches to manage water-related risks to multiple sectors, integrating natural sciences, engineering, social and health sciences to deliver transformative decision-making tools for evidence-based responses to the world’s changing cold regions. New models will define changing risk from floods and drought, and allow end-users to plan sustainable infrastructure investment to manage future risk.

Why do we need GWF?  Canada and the world have record shrinking glaciers, melting permafrost, reduced snow cover, increased floods and droughts, and degraded water quality at the same time as our demands on water are increasing.  With the GWF programme, we can address these problems. Supported by new sensors, drones, nanosatellites, instrumented watersheds, computer models and unprecedented data, we will better understand and forecast water disasters, supply and quality. Through better prediction, we will reduce the damages from extreme weather events, like floods, droughts and wildfires. And we will unravel the social, health, environmental, political and economic implications of changes to our water.

There are three main components to the outcomes from GWF over the next seven years.

1) Improved disaster warning. Currently, we lack the scientific knowledge, monitoring and modeling technologies, and national forecasting capacity to predict the risk and severity of potentially catastrophic events in Canada. These knowledge gaps and technology barriers have resulted in significant loss of life and property in recent years.  GWF will create Canada’s first national water disaster warning system by creating robust forecasting tools capable of warning stakeholders of impending floods, seasonal water flows, droughts and water quality. Apps, underpinned by our models created in other pillars, will be developed to deliver these systems in a user-friendly manner. These solutions will save lives and infrastructure and provide operational efficiencies to stakeholders and industries such as water managers and hydropower companies.

2) Predicting water futures. The world lacks water data on a scale to make informed decisions, and we cannot forecast future climate impacts without better models to assess changes in our human/natural land and water systems. These limitations create risks for water supplies, water quality and sustainability. Though a comprehensive research program that integrates multiple disciplines, GWF will establish a more holistic understanding of our changing climate, land, water and ecosystems. This expansive knowledge will create more robust mathematical models that will increase accuracy of our future predictions of water quantity and quality, as well as landscape and ecosystem change for all major Canadian river basins, allowing for scenario modeling of land and water futures. Apps and software that incorporate these models will be developed with the end user in mind for integration into daily decision-making.

3) Adapting to change and managing risk. Nationally and globally, we lack the governance mechanisms, management strategies, and policy tools needed to reduce the risk of water threats, design adaptive strategies to cope with uncertainty, and take advantage of economic opportunities that arise as change unfolds. GWF will provide decision-makers in government and across industries and agriculture the necessary risk-management models tools to make evidence-based decisions that result in optimal socioeconomic outcomes. These scenario-based tools will be informed by our transdisciplinary research program and will be customized by sector. For example, GWF will provide government with evidence and guidance on adaptive governance; Indigenous communities with decision-making tools to adapt to changing water quality; urban communities with evidence to adapt and respond to flood risk; agriculture with tailored weather inputs for precision farming and tools for beneficial management practices; industry with guidance on risks and sustainability, and tools to better assess and manage water and environmental risks and liabilities.

Canada has long been known as the water country, and with GWF we will be known as the water solutions country.

The following articles have been published about the new program:

Awards to CH PhD Candidates

Two CH PhD candidates have recently won prestigious awards for their work.

Nik Aksamit, who is studying alpine boundary layer turbulence and snow transport, was selected as the recipient of the 2016 Robert Falside Stoddart Memorial Scholarship by the College of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Saskatchewan.

Phillip Harder, investigating the impact of agricultural management on prairie snowmelt hydrology, won the Bert Tanner Award for outstanding student presentation (sponsored by Campbell Scientific Canada), awarded by the Canadian Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology at a meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Salt Lake City (20-24 June, 2016).

Both students are supervised by CH director Professor John Pomeroy.