Prairie Floods – More CH Media Contributions

The unprecedented summer flooding through parts of the prairies over past weeks has prompted a series of requests for insights and comments from hydrologists. In response, CH staff have given several interviews, giving rise to the following articles and reports:

Prof. John Pomeroy:

  • Western Producer (18 Jul): Pay farmers to stop drainage: research chair  Original / PDF
  • Western Producer (17 Jul): Lake Winnipeg to get worst of flood  Original / PDF
  • Yorkton This Week (16 Jul): Floods show something is changing  Original / PDF
  • Winnipeg Free Press (12 Jul): Analysis – Manitoba at ground zero  Original / PDF
  • CBC TV – The National (11 Jul): Why did the prairies flood again so soon?  Original
  • ClimateWire (10 Jul): A spectrum of anxiety mounts as unusual weather floods North America’s farm belt  Original
  • CBC News Manitoba (10 Jul): Draining wetlands contributes to Prairie summer floods, says expert  Original
  • NewsTalk 650 (10 Jul): Original
  • Globe and Mail (9 Jul): Loss of ponds, wetlands exacerbated Manitoba flooding: report  Original / PDF
  • Saskatoon Star Phoenix (9 Jul): Sound advice on water woes  Original / PDF
  • RCI – Radio Canada International (9 Jul): Weird floods “consistent with changes in climate”  Original / PDF
  • Politics and its Discontents (Blog) (9 Jul): Has Harper Betrayed The West?  Original
  • Saskatoon Star Phoenix (8 Jul): More prolonged storms a reality, researcher says  Original / PDF
  • Saskatoon Star Phoenix (8 Jul): Drainage contributing to flooding, expert says  Original / PDF
  • Regina Leader Post (8 Jul): Mandryk: Floods tells us our climate is changing  Original / PDF
  • CBC – The Current (8 Jul): State of Emergency: What’s the long-term solution to prairie flooding?  Original
  • CBC News Manitoba (8 Jul): Manitoba flooding: Next 48 hours critical, province says  Original / PDF
  • Ruminations (Blog) (8 Jul): Calamitous Climate  Original
  • PostMedia / (7 Jul): Changing climate at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood  Original / PDF
  • CBC The Morning Edition – Saskatoon (2 Jul): Expert says southeast Saskatchewan should expect more flooding  Original
  • CBC Saskatoon Morning (2nd July)
  • 660 News Radio (30 Jun): Prairie weather part of long-term changing climate: expert  Original
  • Manitoba Co-operator (30 Jun): Worthwhile trade-off  Original / PDF
  • Manitoba Co-operator (20 Jun): Province vows to tackle southwest’s water woes  Original / PDF

Dr Kevin Shook

  • Calgary Herald (30 Jun): Expert sees growing trend of torrential downpours on prairies  Original / PDF

Opportunities at the US NOAA / UCAR National Water Center

The US NOAA National Water Center, located on the University of Alabama’s campus at Tuscaloosa, is currently advertising a number of opportunities which may be of interest to CH students and other hydrologists.

The advertisement – which also provides an interesting insight into the breadth and depth of the enhancement of US federal research activities relating to hydrology – is available at

CH Comments on Prairie Flooding

Dr Kevin Shook, SGI Research Fellow at CH, was asked by the Calgary Herald to comment on the heavy rainfall which has been hitting the prairies during the past week: the storm dropped more than the historical average precipitation for all of June over an extensive area (the town of Redvers, for example, received between 7 and 9 inches in two days), and led to widespread flooding. He sees storms like these as contributing to a pattern of increasing occurrences of multi-day rainfall events he’s detected across the region through analysis of climate data from the past century. The article is available online here, and in PDF format here.

On the same topic of prairie flooding, Prof. John Pomeroy has been interviewed several times by local radio stations:
- 660 News Radio (30 June)
- CBC The Morning Edition – Saskatoon (2nd July)
- CBC Saskatoon Morning (2nd July)

Prize-Winning Faculty and Students

Graduate students and faculty associated with the Centre for Hydrology have done exceptionally well in winning awards and scholarships in 2014 and deserve recognition for their success. With top prizes for senior scientist at the Canadian Geophysical Union (CGU) and graduate students at CGU and the Society of Wetland Science, top thesis awards at the MSc and PhD levels from the University of Saskatchewan, four NSERC PhD scholarships, five Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarships and a rare Becas Chile PhD scholarship for overseas training there is much to be proud of for these fine scholars. Congratulations.

List of awards and scholarships received in 2014:

Centre Faculty

  • Professor Phil Marsh – Tuzo Wilson Medal from the Canadian Geophysical Union: this is the CGU’s highest award

Centre Graduate Students

  • Chris Marsh
    - Stan Paterson Scholarship in Canadian Glaciology from the Canadian Geophysical Union
    - NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (PhD)
    - 2014 Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship
  • Phillip Harder
    - NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (PhD)
    - 2014 Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship
    - University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award (Master’s)
  • Nicolas Leroux
    - 2014 Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship
  • Dhiraj Pradhananga
    - 2014 Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship
  • Kabir Rasouli
    - NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (PhD)
  • Nikolas Askamit
    - 2014 Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship
    - J.H. Richards Graduate Award, 2013-14
  • Dan Karran
    - NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship
    - J.H. Richards Graduate Award, 2013-14
  • Jason Mercer
    - Society of Wetland Science Student Research Grant.
  • Sebastian Krogh
    - Becas-Chile PhD Scholarship
  • Nicholas Kinar
    - University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award (Doctorate)

CH Publishes Smith Creek Wetland Report

Related downloadable information:
- Fact-sheet
- Full report
- U of S Media Release

In 1997, after the devastating Assiniboine River flood of 1995, a research effort was started to better understand and model Canadian Prairie hydrology with an emphasis on snowmelt derived flooding and the role of depressional storage in controlling the contribution of basin runoff to streamflow. This effort led to a hydrological model suitable for prairie applications including the impact of wetland drainage and restoration.

Centre for Hydrology Report No. 14, Improving and Testing the Prairie Hydrological Model at Smith Creek Research Basin has now been published, describing the results a multi-year study to better simulate the hydrology of a Saskatchewan prairie watershed with the Cold Regions Hydrological Model and then use the model to evaluate the hydrological function of depressional storage in the Canadian Prairies.

The main findings of the report are:

  • A long-term measurement and computer modelling study by the U of S Centre for Hydrology has revealed that drainage of depressional storage is a major factor in increasing prairie streamflows in most years and increasing flooding in wet years.
  • The basin of Smith Creek, SK, southeast of Yorkton has undergone substantial drainage. In 1958 there were 96 km² of wetlands (24% of thebasin area) and now there are 43 km² (11% of the basin area).
  • The Prairie Hydrological Model was set up for Smith Creek and run over six years using good weather data from a U of S weather station – these years included the largest flood on record for the region, in 2011. The model was manipulated to decrease wetland volume (drainage) or increase wetland volume (restoration). The limit for restoration was the measured wetland extent in 1958, the limit for drainage was complete wetland removal from the basin.
  • Wetland drainage has a very strong impact on streamflow in flood  conditions. For the Flood of 2011, complete drainage of the existing wetlands would increase the 2011 flood peak by 78% and the 2011 yearly volume of streamflow by 32%.
  • Wetland restoration has a strong impact on streamflow in flood conditions. For the Flood of 2011, restoration of wetlands from the current extent back to the extent measured in 1958 would decrease the 2011 flood peak by 32% and the 2011 yearly volume of streamflow by 29%.
  • Drainage has an even stronger impact on streamflow in normal to dry years. For these years, streamflow volumes would increase by from 200% to 300% with drainage of current wetlands and the yearly peak flow would increase by from 150% to 350%.
  • Over six years of computer model simulation (2007-2013), total streamflow volumes increased by 55% with complete drainage of existing wetlands and decreased by 26% with restoration of existing wetlands to their state in 1958.

CH Principles of Hydrology Short Course, 2015

Registration is now open for the CH / CSHS Short Course in The Principles of Hydrology, which will run from 10-21 January, 2015 at the Barrier Lake Field Station, Kananaskis Valley, Alberta.

The course aims to describe and explain the physical principles and processes that govern hydrology, with special reference to Canadian conditions. It is aimed at hydrology and water resources graduate students and early to mid-level professionals who would like to broaden their understanding of hydrological systems and processes.

Full details of content and the registration process are available here.

CH Contributes to Media Floodwatch

CH Director Prof. John Pomeroy has again been asked to contribute information to the continuing – and understandable – concern in the Bow Valley about this Spring’s above-average spring snowpack in the Rockies:

Calgary Herald, 29th May 2014
- Alarm raised over flood mitigation work near Canmore

Global News, 15th May 2014
- Flood risks from melting snow pack ‘enough to be concerned about’

CBC Calgary, 12th May 2014
- Experts watch mountain snowpack for flood warning signs

Calgary Herald, 6th May 2014
- UPDATE: Experts say building dams and diversion channels not the best way to deal with floods
- Canmore keeping close eye on water levels after rain and snow

Calgary Herald, 5th May 2014
Nature the answer to managing floods

CH Seminar, Coldwater Lab., Friday 16th May at 3pm

The Centre for Hydrology’s Coldwater Lab. is hosting a seminar by Dr Jessica Lundquist (Mountain Hydrology Research Group, University of Washington), titled Effects of climate on forest-snow interactions.

The talk will summarize recent research on forest cover / snowpack interactions around the world, review advances in measuring interception of snow in forest canopies, and introduce a new research project on forest-climate effects on snowcover in the US Pacific Northwest.

It takes place in the Main Lecture Theatre at the BGS Institute, Barrier Lake Field Station, Kananaskis, Alberta on Friday May 16, 2014 from 3-4pm.