CH Commentary on 2014 Flood Prospects

With snowpack above normal in some parts of the Canadian Rockies and a cold April slowing melt so far, Prof. John Pomeroy has been interviewed by several media outlets on the scientific basis of the 2013 flood and the level of preparedness and prospects for flooding in the future.

The articles are available in PDF format from the following links:

CRHM Computer Modeller Opportunity, Yellowknife

The Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan is seeking to hire a
Computer Modeller to work in Yellowknife, NWT

We seek a hydrological modeller with

  • a working knowledge of C++
  • an excellent understanding of northern hydrology and cold regions hydrological processes
  • experience of running hydrological models for prediction
  • hydrometric and hydrometeorological data management experience

Once appointed, the successful applicant will be trained at the Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, on the Cold Regions Hydrological Model (CRHM). He or she will then be stationed at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) office in Yellowknife. This position is funded by a grant from the Canadian Water Network for the purpose of knowledge application.

The modeller will be responsible for the interactive training of ENR staff on the use and application of CRHM for the purpose of improving their predictive capacity with respect to water resources in the Northwest Territories. The modeller will also work with a model interface developer for the purpose of refining and customising the interface so that it meets the needs of the ENR and their user communities. This is a one-year position commencing 1 April or 1 May 2014, with a salary of $62,000, plus benefits and vacation pay.

Applicants are invited to submit a CV, cover letter and the names and contact details of three referees. Applications and questions regarding this position should be directed to the address below. Applications by email are preferred.

William Quinton,
Cold Regions Research Centre,
Wilfrid Laurier University,
Waterloo, Canada, N2L 3C5.
519-884-0710, ext. 3281

GIWS Faculty Position in Watershed Modelling

Global Institute for Water Security and School of Environment and Sustainability: Faculty Position in Watershed Modelling

The School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) invites applications for a full-time tenure-track faculty position at the level of assistant, associate, or full professor. The successful candidate will join a core interdisciplinary science and modelling team to support the development of a $30 million research programme within the University’s Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) led by Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Water Security, Howard Wheater. The Institute combines expertise in natural sciences, engineering and social sciences and brings together over 120 faculty, scientists, students and post-doctoral fellows to address the local, regional and global challenges of water security. World-class facilities include the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, the Toxicology Centre, the Centre for Hydrology and Environment Canada’s National Hydrology Research Centre, in which GIWS is housed. We anticipate appointing either a young scientist of outstanding promise or a senior Faculty member with a recognized track record of international leadership in his or her field. A senior appointee would be expected to play a leading role in the management and further development of GIWS in collaboration with Director Howard Wheater and Associate Director Jeffrey McDonnell.

The appointee will be required to address one or more of the core themes of the CERC programme (Climate Change and Water Security, Land-Water Management and Environmental Change, Sustainable Development of Natural Resources) and to contribute to the development of interdisciplinary water research across the U of S and with external partners such as Environment Canada. One major focus for interdisciplinary research is the Saskatchewan River Basin Project, a World Climate Research Programme Regional Hydroclimate Project that builds on a set of world-class observatories to develop improved hydrological, water quality and water resource models for decision support. GIWS also leads Canada’s Changing Cold Regions Network, a $5 million multi-institutional effort that addresses environmental change in the interior of Western Canada, from the Rocky Mountains to the Arctic Ocean. Expertise is specifically required in the area of watershed modelling, with preference given to candidates with experience of working at large scales. Ability to teach statistical/stochastic hydrology is also required, and experience of remote sensing data assimilation would be an advantage. The candidate will also be expected to teach in the broader SENS curriculum.

Successful candidates must have a PhD and an established national or international reputation for research in one of the core themes of the CERC programme listed above. Excellence will be demonstrated through recent peer reviewed papers and citations in top tier journals, the ability to secure research funding and a proven track record of teaching and research supervision (scaled to years since PhD and desired rank at appointment). Excellent interpersonal skills are required, and evidence of successful research collaboration with national stakeholders and international researchers is desirable. For senior appointees, evidence of administrative experience relevant to managing and/or developing a research unit is essential.

Successful candidates will be appointed to a position within SENS, but may also seek a joint appointment with another academic unit, if desired and appropriate. A junior appointment will be tenure track. For a senior appointee, appointment with tenure is possible, where justified by a documented track record that meets the standards for research and teaching at the University of Saskatchewan. Review of applications will begin May 12, 2014, and continue until suitable candidates are found. Salary bands for this post are as follows: Assistant Professor – $86,844 – $104,357; Associate Professor – $104,357 – $121,871 and Professor – $121,871 – $142,303). This position comes with a comprehensive benefits package which includes pension plan, life insurance (compulsory and voluntary), academic long term disability, sick leave, travel insurance, death benefit, dental plan, extended health and vision care plan, employee assistance program and flexible health and wellness spending program.

The U of S is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (, a city of ~250,000 on the South Saskatchewan River with a diverse and thriving economic base, a strong research cluster, a vibrant arts community and a full range of leisure opportunities. The boreal forest and world-class recreational opportunities exist within a 1.5 hour drive north of Saskatoon. The University has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and scholarly activities, and offers a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to a student population of about 20,000. The University is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities. For information about the U of S, SENS and GIWS, please visit, and

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to employment equity. Members of designated groups (women, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and visible minorities) are encouraged to self-identify on their applications. Applications will be judged solely on academic promise and achievement, but for candidates of equal ability, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

To be considered for this opportunity, please send your CV, a letter of introduction, the names of three referees, and a summary of your research vision (1-page) and graduate training philosophy (1 page) in confidence to:
Kate Wilson, Global Institute for Water Security, U of S, Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 3H5; E-mail:

Dr Cherie Westbrook Interviewed by Calgary Herald

CH’s Dr Cherie Westbrook has been interviewed by the Calgary Herald about her work with beaver ecohydrology in the Sibbald Lake area of Kananaskis Country, Alberta. The article highlights how beavers contribute to the creation and maintenance of wetlands, and provide a valuable form of natural flood resilience.

The article is available in PDF form here.

Glacier recession linkages to changing snow and warming climate studied by CH and CCRN researchers

Glaciers in the Canadian Rockies continue to retreat as the climate warms, despite recent high snowpack years and even historic wet conditions leading to floods.

An article in the Calgary Herald has reported on the results of studies of these glaciers and their hydrology by Shawn Marshall of the University of Calgary, Mike Demuth (Natural Resources Canada, Centre for Hydrology member), and John Pomeroy (Centre for Hydrology Director). It also includes discussion of the water resource implications by Robert Sandford (another member of the Centre for Hydrology).

The article is available in PDF form here.

AB ESRD Announces Flood-Prediction Budget

The Calgary Herald has reported that the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resources Development has set aside substantial budgets for natural hazard prediction and warning, including a new rainfall intensity alarm system for the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, flood-risk mapping and modelling.

These measures correspond closely to recommendations made by CH Director Prof. John Pomeroy in the aftermath of the June 2013 floods.

The article is available as a PDF download here.

Calgary Herald Reports on CCRN Canmore Workshop

The Calgary Herald has published several articles documenting discussions leading up to or occurring at the Changing Cold Regions Network Workshop on Extreme Weather and Hydrology, held in Canmore over the 11th and 12th of February 2014.

The articles include discussions of the mechanisms behind the 2013 Canadian Rockies flood, methods used to forecast them, and how forecasting should be carried out in the future.

They are available for download as follows;

Rocky Mountain Outlook Covers Canmore Workshop

Canmore’s Rocky Mountain Outlook has published the following article, ahead of next week’s workshop comparing the 2013 floods in Alberta and Colorado. It is also available online from this link.

Alberta, Colorado floods compared
Lynn Martel: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nearly eight months after the milestone event, 50 researchers, academics, government scientists and engineers from across North America will gather in Canmore to participate in a workshop focused on the study and understanding of the 2013 floods that engulfed a wide swath of southern Alberta, including Canmore.

Speakers will include Canmore Mayor John Borrowman and Town of Canmore manager of engineering Andy Esarte, in addition to hydrologists and hydrometeorologists from universities and research centres in Montreal, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Washington D.C., Whitehorse, Boulder, Colorado and Fairbanks, Alaska. The purpose of the workshop is to evaluate, analyse and synthesize a case study of extreme weather and hydrology with a focus on the 2013 floods of Western Canada.

The free event, which is open to the public, takes place on Wednesday (Feb. 12) at Canmore Collegiate High School, at 7:30 p.m.

Most of those attending are members of the Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN), a NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) funded research network led by the University of Saskatchewan. The CCRN’s objectives are to integrate existing and new sources of data with improved predictive and observational tools vital to understanding, diagnosing and predicting interactions among the cryospheric, ecological, hydrological and climatic components of the planet’s changing systems, with a geographic focus on Western Canada’s rapidly changing cold interior.

A key organizer of the workshop is Canmore resident Dr. John Pomeroy, the U of S director of hydrology who runs a network of field monitoring sites in the Rockies as part of the Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory and Coldwater Laboratory in Kananaskis.

“We are hosting it in Canmore because much of the flood of 2013 started due to high precipitation in this area, and because the University of Saskatchewan, and hence the Changing Cold Regions Network, had a large science research presence when the flood hit,” Pomeroy said.

One of the focus areas of the CCRN is the Canadian Rockies, he added, with a key area of study being extreme meteorological and hydrological events, such as the 2013 flood.

“Because of the Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory and Coldwater Laboratory in Kananaskis, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the CCRN have the opportunity to conduct specialized analysis of the climate, weather and hydrology associated with the flood,” Pomeroy said.

Dr. Roy Rasmussen, a hydrometeorologist and the senior scientist and director of the Hydrometeorology Applications Program at the Research Applications Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, will share a presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 12 that offers comparisons to the 2013 floods that hit Alberta and Colorado in 2013.

Having earned his PhD from UCLA in atmospheric science, Rasmussen’s field of study involves improving the understanding of the earth’s current and future water cycle, with a particular focus on orographic precipitation – precipitation that results from the lifting of moist air over a physical barrier, such as a mountain range.

After experiencing the high effect of the Colorado flood on people living in the front range of that state, Rasmussen said it’s worthwhile to compare what happened there with the flooding that swamped a large portion of southern Alberta.

“Some of the common issues include the ability of radars to properly estimate rainfall rates, the accuracy of the operational forecast, and the method to simulate the flooding,” Rasmussen said.

The most important lessons to be taken from the floods in both places include the need to improve the analysis and forecasting of precipitation and the resulting flood. As well, scientists must examine how best the impact of these types of floods might be mitigated in the future.

To that end, scientists such as Rasmussen must continually improve their climate models in order to be able to simulate local conditions accurately and obtain data that can be used to verify the models.

“The importance of Dr. Rasmussen’s talk is the opportunity to learn about the mechanics of the weather systems and subsequent flooding that occurred in the Colorado front ranges in September 2013, and start to compare them to what happened in this region in June,” Pomeroy said. “Boulder had much greater rainfall volume than did Canmore, but both involved extremely heavy volumes of precipitation on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and then destructive and rapid flooding of mountain and plains communities.

“It is useful to understand both the similarities and the differences and also to what degree these events are influenced by climate change – which has been predicted to increase the intensity of extreme events around the word.

“This is critical in assessing the likelihood of future floods of the size seen in Canmore or Boulder, which influences how prepared we need to be for the next one.”

Rasmussen’s presentation will be followed by an open panel discussion with U of S Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security Howard Wheater, Kevin Shook, research scientist at the U of S Centre for Hydrology, Rasmussen and Pomeroy.

Talk and Panel on Colorado Flood, Canmore, 12 Feb

The Town of Canmore, Changing Cold Regions Research Network and
Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan are sponsoring a presentation by one of the world’s leading experts on extreme
weather and hydrology.

Dr Roy Rasmussen, a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, will present on
The Colorado Flood of September 2013: Lessons for Alberta

The talk will take place at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, at the
Canmore Collegiate High School Theatre

An expert panel discussion will follow. Panellists include
- Dr Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security, University of Saskatchewan
- Dr Ronald Stewart, Professor, University of Manitoba;
- Dr Al Pietroniro, Director, Water Survey of Canada
- Dr John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, University of Saskatchewan
- Dr Kevin Shook, Research Scientist, University of Saskatchewan

The event poster is available for download here.