CH Comments on Evolving Aspects of Outdoor Winter Recreation under Climate Change

CH director Professor John Pomeroy was asked by The Globe and Mail this week to comment on the likely influences of climate-change on winter outdoor pursuits in two strongly contrasting contexts.

For the first article (published on Sunday 31st January 2016), he was asked how risks associated with mountain snowpacks might alter with changing climatic conditions, following the loss of five snowmobilers’ lives in the BC Rocky Mountains as the result of an avalanche.

He responded that increasing minimum air temperatures should tend generally to result in more consolidated snowpacks, which in turn should be more stable. Warmer, wetter snow is also less likely to be transported by wind, to form cornices on the lees of ridges: sudden failure of such features is a common cause of avalanches. However, there are signs that winter weather patterns may be swinging more frequently between extremes of warm and cold: this will influence patterns and characteristics of precipitation, and alter snowpack metamorphic processes, thereby increasing the challenge of accurately forecasting avalanche risks.

The second (published on Wednesday 3rd February 2016) considered how warmer winter conditions are impacting the viability of outdoor rinks, and thus opportunities for shinny and other varieties of informal hockey. Dr Pomeroy’s prognosis was pessimistic, in view of increasing occurrences of warm temperatures and rainfall, and the corresponding unreliability of ground remaining frozen throughout the winter, in many areas of the country. (Those with an interest in this serious risk to one of the nation’s key icons of winter identity, not to mention its future hockey prospects, might also be interested in the RinkWatch project.)

The articles are available for online viewing here:

CH Students Win AGU Cryosphere Innovation Prizes

Two PhD students at CH were awarded $1000 prizes for their two-minute ‘Flash Freeze’ pitches for the Cryosphere Innovation Award for Students at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Nik Aksamit focused on identifying the smallest eddies in alpine turbulence relevant to transporting snow, using a new Particle Tracking Velocimetry apparatus.

Phillip Harder proposed to improve precision farming systems through high-resolution mapping of snow using the system for acoustic sensing of snow (SAS3) mounted on UAVs.

Sandford Talk on Storm Warning, 28th January

CH Fellow Bob Sandford will be talking about his book Storm Warning: Water and Climate Security in a Changing World at Literary Lights, a celebration of local writers to be held at the Rose & Crown Pub, 749 Railway Avenue, Canmore at 7pm on Thursday 28th January 2016.

As many will already be well aware, Bob’s talks are always insightful and interesting, while managing to present the work of CH and related science in a highly approachable manner, and describing its wider relevance and importance to society.

Research Technician Opportunity at the Coldwater Centre

The Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan is seeking a Research Technician to support research projects conducted in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

This position is based at the U of S Coldwater Laboratory, Barrier Lake, Kananaskis, Alberta. This will be a full-time, term position for two years with a targeted start date of March 1, 2016. Starting salary is commensurate with abilities and experience.

Primary Purpose: The Research Technician will support Centre for Hydrology research projects primarily conducted in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Accountabilities:

  • Organizing and conducting field work for the Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory;
  • Keeping orderly and accessible records of field equipment, experimental field notes and records, experimental plans;
  • Managing and maintaining the laboratories, field sites, vehicles and field investigations of the CRC;
  • Purchasing, and maintaining scientific equipment for field and laboratory studies;
  • Assisting with scientific reporting of the CRC pertaining to national and international scientific, financial and administrative agreements, with special responsibility for experimental field studies and data analysis reporting;
  • Organizing, archiving, updating, graphing and reviewing scientific data;
  • Conducting guided scientific analysis in support of CRC activities with an initial emphasis on mountain hydrology research;
  • Contributing to the communications and visibility of the CRC, office, experiments, personnel and students;
  • Training research staff and students as to proper experimental techniques, protocols and activities, and safety in mountains and on glaciers;
  • Other research duties specified by Professor Pomeroy

Qualifications

  • Education: Completion of a post-secondary degree (BSc or higher) in physical environmental sciences or engineering with a specialization in hydrological or related sciences.
  • Experience: Required experience includes:
    • Hydrometeorological fieldwork;
    • Snow surveying;
    • Measurement of stream discharge, soil moisture, and near-surface meteorology;
    • Operating and programming Campbell Scientific based equipment such as dataloggers and micrometeorology / hydrology sensors;
    • Quality assurance and control of hydrometeorological data;
    • Operating ATV’s, snowmobiles and towing with a 4×4 truck;
    • Working on tall meteorological towers;
    • Logistics in outdoor operations in remote locations;
    • Glacier and high mountain travel.
  • Skills:
    • Ability to organize fieldwork to meet scientific goals and objectives in a cost-effective and quality-assured manner;
    • Ability to work independently with a minimum of supervision;
    • Ability to supervise staff and students;
    • Ability to maintain meteorological, snow and hydrological sensors and mechanical equipment;
    • Ability to manage observed and telemetered data on Windows-based computers using various data-retrieval and database programs;
    • Ability to program Campbell dataloggers and remote telemetry systems;
    • Ability to snowshoe, ski, travel on glaciers, travel in avalanche zones safely and work outdoors in adverse conditions in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
  • Personal Suitability:
    Must demonstrate effective interpersonal relationships, reliability, integrity, alertness, physical fitness and cooperativeness. Must display initiative and good judgement in decision making
  • Conditions of Work:Must possess a valid driver’s license and be able to operate a variety of vehicles. Must possess valid First Aid and CPR certificate. Willingness to work in remote wilderness locations, use mountaineering skills, climb tall meteorological towers. Position is based at the Coldwater Laboratory, Barrier Lake, Kananaskis, Alberta.

Review of applicants will begin on January 28, 2016. The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. Email your CV, cover letter, and names and contact information of three references to centre.hydrology@usask.ca.

More information about the Centre for Hydrology is available at usask.ca/hydrology.

The University of Saskatchewan is strongly committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace that empowers all employees to reach their full potential. All members of the university community share a responsibility for developing and maintaining an environment in which differences are valued and inclusiveness is practiced. The university welcomes applications from those who will contribute to the diversity of our community. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

CH Research Cited by Western Producer Article

The Western Producer published an article on 31st December 2015 citing CH research on changing prairie precipitation patterns.

The piece discussed how work in the Smith Creek Research Basin and elsewhere has demonstrated how rain is replacing snowfall in the spring and early fall, and established that the duration of rainstorms has increased over the past 70 years, despite no overall increase in total precipitation.

It is available for online viewing here.

CH Fellow Publishes New Book on Climate Threats

CH Fellow Bob Sandford, who also serves as EPCOR Chair for the UN University Institute for Water and Health, has recently co-authored a new book considering the risks and impacts associated with anthropogenic climate-change.

Written in partnership with Dr Jon O’Riordan, the book – titled The Climate Nexus: Water, Food, Energy and Biodiversity in a Changing World – explores connectivities between the climate-related threats currently looming over each of these components of the natural and human environments.

Intended to provide an accessible synopsis of key related issues and possible mitigating responses, the book draws on research from CH, the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies and other leading authorities on climate-related matters.

Sandford comments that the book “… explains the nexus of water, food, energy and biodiversity to show how critical the effect of changes of one are on the others. We hope to be able to demonstrate though, this is how we need to think differently about that nexus so that we can respond appropriately in terms of mitigating the impacts and adapting to the changing political structure”.

The Climate Nexus was profiled by both Vancouver’s Georgia Strait (here) and the Bow Valley’s Crag and Canyon (here) on 23rd December 2015: full publication details are available here.

 

CH Research to Feature in Radio Canada Special

CH’s Dr John Pomeroy has contributed to a one-hour special issue of Découverte, for the Radio Canada Channel.

Focusing on the vulnerability of Canadian water resources to climate-change, the program will include substantial discussion of CH’s research and the Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory.

It will air on the evening of Sunday 6th December 2015 at 6:30pm, and will subsequently be available through the program’s website.

Globe and Mail Publishes CH Op-Ed on Need for Canadian Water Strategy

CH’s Prof. John Pomeroy and Bob Sandford, together with James Bruce (a former assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada), have contributed an op-ed to the Globe and Mail outlining the increasingly parlous state of water quantity and quality in Canada.

The article makes a strong case for establishing a federally-led strategy which would enable Canada to “join the rest of the developed world by measuring, forecasting and managing its water to promote our prosperity, environmental health and quality of life and to address threats posed by climate change”.

The piece – published on 29th November 2015 – is available for online viewing here.

Westbrook Wetland Photography Winner

CH’s Dr Cherie Westbrook was recently awarded second prize in the Society of Wetland Scientists‘ photographic competition, which attracted 136 entries.

Her picture, Fens Under Water, shows a part of Tierra del Fuego National Park (Argentina), where invasive beaver have caused the wide scale destruction of many ecosystems. It is shown below, and has also been included in the 2016 SWS calendar, available here.

Westbrook_SWS_Photo_Nov2015_500px

CH Research Contributes to Tyee Articles

The Tyee has published two articles by Ed Struzik covering opposite ends of the hydrological spectrum this week, both of which include contributions from CH director Dr John Pomeroy.