Call for National Climate Plan to Address Flooding and Drought

The 24th April edition of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix includes an article discussing the federal government’s continued failure to formulate a climate-change mitigation strategy. It includes some forthright observations from the CH director Professor John Pomeroy about Canada’s embarrassing record in this area.

The piece is currently (25 April 2015) available online here, and as a PDF archive here.

Alpine snowmelt season already under way in the Rocky Mountains

With surveys by the Alberta Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development reporting generally below-average snowpack at lower elevations in the Alberta Rockies (details), and signs of an early melt already getting under way even at higher levels, the Calgary Herald has been asking CH staff for their perspective on what this may mean for water supplies in the coming summer.

In an article published on April 8th, Prof. John Pomeroy notes the connections between these patterns in Canada and persisting severe drought conditions in California.

The piece is available in its original form here, or as a PDF archive.

CH to play leading role in INARCH

CH is to play a leading role in a major new scientific initiative, the International Network for Alpine Research Catchment Hydrology (INARCH).

With the strong encouragement of CH director Professor John Pomeroy, plans for the network have been devised over the past three years, by a global team of scientists interested in the dynamics of mountain climates, glaciers, snow, hydrology and associated ecological systems. It is intended to provide a forum for collaborative research, with the aim of developing and sharing improved understanding of these fragile and extremely important environments.

Scientists from more than 25 government institutions, universities and non-governmental agencies in 15 countries, spanning North and South America, Europe and Asia, have so far committed to contribute to the network’s activities.

In an important recent development, the new initiative has been adopted as a key ‘cross-cutting’ project under the auspices of the GEWEX Hydroclimatology Panel. With GEWEX being the core project of the UN-sponsored World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), INARCH will operate among the highest levels of mountain research world-wide.

More information is provided in an article published in the Rocky Mountain Outlook, available in its original form here, and as an archive PDF here.

Snow chemistry commentary for US NPR

The Centre for Hydrology provided commentary for a US National Public Radio food show The salt – what’s on your plate that dealt with the consumption of snow – Snow is delicious. But is it dangerous to eat?

Technical input ranged from concerns on the concentrations of various contaminants in snow, the contribution of prairie dirt to blowing snow, to the atmospheric scrubbing qualities of snowfall to a snow hydrologist’s recipe for snow.

More details from the discussion are available here.

GIWS Posts Water Science Videos

The University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Security has posted a series of videos describing the wide range of water-related research being conducted throughout the Saskatchewan River Basin, many of which feature the activities of faculty and post-graduate students in the Centre for Hydrology. These vignettes also highlight a variety of ways in which climate and environmental change is affecting Canadian biomes and water resources. They are available for viewing here: http://www.usask.ca/water/saskrb/Videos.php.

CH Alumni in Canoe Odyssey Film

In 2011, CH students (now alumni) Ross Phillips and Nathalie Brunet were members of a team who crossed Canada by bike, foot and (mainly) canoe. Their story is told on the expedition’s website, and now also in a film chronicling their journey: this film will be shown on Saturday 24th January 2015, at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon (715 Broadway Avenue: doors open at 7:00, show starts at 7:30: Tickets are $5 at the door).

The event’s description follows…

In A Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey join four women, two men, and three canoes as they canoe from the Pacific Ocean, across Canada, to the Atlantic Ocean. The film follows crew members through laughter, illness, frustration, and perseverance as they paddle and portage 7,600 kilometers beneath mountain peaks, across the Great Plains, and through vast expanses of boreal forest.

The trip begins in Vancouver at the mouth of the Fraser River. Through British Columbia’s mountain ranges the crew paddled along mountain lakes andcycled, hiked, and snowshoed through mountain passes with canoes overhead or in tow. The expedition crossed the Rocky Mountain continental divide via the historic Howse Pass. Once over the divide the crew descended into the North Saskatchewan River and across the Great Plains. Throughout the summer months, the Odyssey proceeded east amid record flooding in Manitoba, through small Canadian Shield sheltered lakes separated by countless portages, and past the cliffs and islands the Great Lakes. With the onset of fall, the crew rode the tides of the St. Lawrence, portaged into the St. John River basin, and coasted to the Bay of Fundy.

They overcome gruelling portages, clouds of mosquitoes, food shortages, persistent wind and waves, freighter traffic, poison ivy, and having six independent people being interdependent, continuously for six months. They are quick to delight in the beauty of the scenery surrounding them and the simplicity of travelling with everything needed in their boats for survival and creating a home at every campsite.

The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey was born out of a love of fresh water and fueled by a lust for adventure. As the Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s 2011 Expedition of the Year, the Odyssey strove to advocate for the importance of freshwater to Canada and partnered with organizations that are working hard to benefit Canadian waterways: the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Canadian Heritage Rivers System.

Experience a fresh view of Canada from the water, an absolutely important aspect of the Canadian environment, heritage and cultural identity.

CH insights sought for Calgary Herald article on climate-related risks to the ski industry

Professor John Pomeroy was recently asked by the Calgary Herald for his thoughts on the likely risks to North American ski resorts of diminishing alpine snowpacks as a result of changing climatic conditions.

Both modelled projections of future snowpack, and trends derived from data gathered over recent decades, strongly indicate that there is a risk of many mountain ranges in the western USA and Canada moving into the transient snow zone, and that this is likely to occur well within the coming century.

The article is available in its original form here, and as a PDF here.

AGU Press Conference Focuses on CH Snowmelt Research

One of twenty press conferences at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU – 15-19 December in San Francisco, California) focused on CH snowmelt research.

  • MSc student Stacey Dumanski is studying increased spring and early summer flooding in the prairies due to changing climate and wetland drainage.
  • Dr Danny Marks is a CCRN collaborator studying rain-on-snow melt in the US Pacific NW.
  • Prof. John Pomeroy’s presentation discussed the June 2013 rain-on-snow event which contributed to flood generation in the headwaters of the Saskatchewan River Basin in the Canadian Rockies. It was also covered in an article by the Calgary Herald, available in its original form here, and as a PDF here.

The conference is available for online streaming here.

Research Published on Environmental Implications of Global Beaver Population Recoveries

CH Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr Colin Whitfield, together with CH’s Dr Cherie Westbrook and colleagues from the Global Institute for Water Security and School of Environment and Sustainability, recently published a research paper describing the environmental ramifications of beaver population recoveries around the globe.

The paper, in The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ journal AMBIO, is available here: releases describing the new knowledge it has generated are available from Springer, and from the U of S Media Relations office (here and here).

The National Post also ran an article on the paper in its December 19th issue, here.

Research Seminar – Wednesday 10th December

A select group of Centre for Hydrology graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will be presenting previews of their thesis proposals, research findings, and forthcoming AGU talks at a special CH seminar. The full order of battle is available here.

The seminar will be held in 146 Kirk Hall on Wednesday 10th December in Kirk Hall from 10am-12:30pm (Saskatchewan time).

All invited, feel free to pass on to colleagues that may be interested.