New Journal Article – future changes in land cover and hydrological cycling across the interior of western Canada

Summary and synthesis of Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN) research in the interior of western Canada – Part 2: Future change in cryosphere, vegetation, and hydrology

DeBeer, C. M., Wheater, H. S., Pomeroy, J. W., Barr, A. G., Baltzer, J. L., Johnstone, J. F., Turetsky, M. R., Stewart, R. E., Hayashi, M., van der Kamp, G., Marshall, S., Campbell, E., Marsh, P., Carey, S. K., Quinton, W. L., Li, Y., Razavi, S., Berg, A., McDonnell, J. J., Spence, C., Helgason, W. D., Ireson, A. M., Black, T. A., Elshamy, M., Yassin, F., Davison, B., Howard, A., Thériault, J. M., Shook, K., Demuth, M. N., and Pietroniro, A.

Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Volume 25, Issue 4
April 9, 2021

This article examines future changes in land cover and hydrological cycling across the interior of western Canada under climate conditions projected for the 21st century. Key insights into the mechanisms and interactions of Earth system and hydrological process responses are presented, and this understanding is used together with model application to provide a synthesis of future change. This has allowed more scientifically-informed projections than have hitherto been available.

The interior of western Canada, like many similar cold mid- to high-latitude regions worldwide, is undergoing extensive and rapid climate and environmental change, which may accelerate in the coming decades. Understanding and predicting changes in coupled climate–land–hydrological systems are crucial to society yet limited by lack of understanding of changes in cold-region process responses and interactions, along with their representation in most current-generation land-surface and hydrological models. It is essential to consider the underlying processes and base predictive models on the proper physics, especially under conditions of non-stationarity where the past is no longer a reliable guide to the future and system trajectories can be unexpected. These challenges were forefront in the recently completed Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN), which assembled and focused a wide range of multi-disciplinary expertise to improve the understanding, diagnosis, and prediction of change over the cold interior of western Canada. CCRN advanced knowledge of fundamental cold-region ecological and hydrological processes through observation and experimentation across a network of highly instrumented research basins and other sites. Significant efforts were made to improve the functionality and process representation, based on this improved understanding, within the fine-scale Cold Regions Hydrological Modelling (CRHM) platform and the large-scale Modélisation Environmentale Communautaire (MEC) – Surface and Hydrology (MESH) model. These models were, and continue to be, applied under past and projected future climates and under current and expected future land and vegetation cover configurations to diagnose historical change and predict possible future hydrological responses. This second of two articles synthesizes the nature and understanding of cold-region processes and Earth system responses to future climate, as advanced by CCRN. These include changing precipitation and moisture feedbacks to the atmosphere; altered snow regimes, changing balance of snowfall and rainfall, and glacier loss; vegetation responses to climate and the loss of ecosystem resilience to wildfire and disturbance; thawing permafrost and its influence on landscapes and hydrology; groundwater storage and cycling and its connections to surface water; and stream and river discharge as influenced by the various drivers of hydrological change. Collective insights, expert elicitation, and model application are used to provide a synthesis of this change over the CCRN region for the late 21st century.

Read the full article here.

New journal publication – SPADE

Meteorological observations collected during the Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE), April–June 2019

J.M. Thériault, S.J. Déry, J.W. Pomeroy, H.M. Smith, J. Almonte, A. Bertoncini, R.W. Crawford, A. Desroches-Lapointe, M. Lachapelle, Z. Mariani, S. Mitchell, J.E. Morris, C. Hébert-Pinard, P. Rodriguez, and H.D. Thompson

Earth System Science Data, Volume 13, Issue 3
March 24, 2021

The continental divide along the spine of the Canadian Rockies in southwestern Canada is a critical headwater region for hydrological drainages to the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic oceans. Major flooding events are typically attributed to heavy precipitation on its eastern side due to upslope (easterly) flows. Precipitation can also occur on the western side of the divide when moisture originating from the Pacific Ocean encounters the west-facing slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Often, storms propagating across the divide result in significant precipitation on both sides. Meteorological data over this critical region are sparse, with few stations located at high elevations. Given the importance of all these types of events, the Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE) was initiated to enhance our knowledge of the atmospheric processes leading to storms and precipitation on either side of the continental divide. This was accomplished by installing specialized meteorological instrumentation on both sides of the continental divide and carrying out manual observations during an intensive field campaign from 24 April–26 June 2019. On the eastern side, there were two field sites: (i) at Fortress Mountain Powerline (2076 m a.s.l.) and (ii) at Fortress Junction Service, located in a high-elevation valley (1580 m a.s.l.). On the western side, Nipika Mountain Resort, also located in a valley (1087 m a.s.l.), was chosen as a field site. Various meteorological instruments were deployed including two Doppler light detection and ranging instruments (lidars), three vertically pointing micro rain radars, and three optical disdrometers. The three main sites were nearly identically instrumented, and observers were on site at Fortress Mountain Powerline and Nipika Mountain Resort during precipitation events to take manual observations of precipitation type and microphotographs of solid particles. The objective of the field campaign was to gather high-temporal-frequency meteorological data and to compare the different conditions on either side of the divide to study the precipitation processes that can lead to catastrophic flooding in the region. Details on field sites, instrumentation used, and collection methods are discussed. Data from the study are publicly accessible from the Federated Research Data Repository at (Thériault et al., 2020). This dataset will be used to study atmospheric conditions associated with precipitation events documented simultaneously on either side of a continental divide. This paper also provides a sample of the data gathered during a precipitation event.

Read more here.

New journal publication: human-water systems

Conceptualizing Cascading Effects of Resilience in Human–Water Systems

Li Xu, Feng Mao, James S. Famiglietti, John W. Pomeroy, Claudia Pahl-Wostl

Multisystemic Resilience: Adaptation and Transformation in Contexts of Change
March, 2021
DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190095888.001.0001

People and water interact over time and across space as coupled systems. Investigating the resilience of such coupling should take a multisystemic approach to address not only the resilience in different human and water systems, but also the interrelationship between their resilience processes. Based on the three framings of resilience in the coupled human–water context (i.e., social resilience, hydrological resilience, and socio-hydrological resilience), a conceptual framework is proposed for understanding the cascading effects of resilience along a chain of resilience change across systems and scales. The authors use a case example from a drainage basin in the Canadian Prairies to exemplify this framework and demonstrate how a change in the resilience of one system can exert an impact on the resilience of another, in socio-hydrological systems that are under the influence of both human activities and climate change.

Read the full article here.

World Water Day from Canmore, AB

Valuing Mountain Water: What Water Means to You

Watch online now! (english) (french)

With special guests:

Mayor John Borrowman, Mayor of Canmore

Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary for the Canada Water Agency

Anil Mishra, Chief of Hydrological Systems and Water Scarcity, United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation, Paris

Berit Arheimer, Professor, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute & President, International Association of Hydrological Sciences

John Pomeroy, Director of Global Water Futures, Centre for Hydrology, Canmore

Caroline Aubry-Wake, Graduate Student, Centre for Hydrology, Canmore

Alain Pietroniro, Professor, University of Calgary & GWF Core Modelling Co-lead

Louise Arnal, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Hydrology, Canmore

Bob Sandford, Global Water Futures Chair of Water & Climate Security, United Nations Institute for Water and Environmental Health


Martyn Clark, Professor, Centre for Hydrology, Canmore & GWF Core Modelling Co-lead


Western Canada AquaHacking tech startup information session

Calling all Global Water Futures and University of Saskatchewan students, post-docs or recent grads passionate about water issues!

On March 25, we’re co-hosting an information session about the Western Canada AquaHacking Challenge: a tech startup competition presented by the Okanagan Basin Water Board and Aqua Forum for solving freshwater issues.

As an AquaHacking competitor, you’ll receive training on how to transform an idea into reality so you and your team can make a real impact on water issues impacting communities and watersheds across Western Canada. Finalist teams are awarded with seed funding (up to $20K!) to launch their water tech startup.

Join GWF Director, Dr. John Pomeroy, and members of the AquaHacking Alumni network to hear how you can get involved in the Western Canada 2021 AquaHacking Challenge.

Click on the link to sign up for the information session:

New Journal Publication – Atmospheric boundary layer dynamics over glaciers

Icefield Breezes: Mesoscale Diurnal Circulation in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer Over an Outlet of the Columbia Icefield, Canadian Rockies

Conway, J.P., Helgason, W.D., Pomeroy, J.W., Sicart, J.E.

Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, Volume 126, Issue 6
February 13, 2021

Atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) dynamics over glaciers mediate the response of glacier mass balance to large‐scale climate forcing. Despite this, very few ABL observations are available over mountain glaciers in complex terrain. An intensive field campaign was conducted in June 2015 at the Athabasca Glacier outlet of Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies. Observations of wind and temperature profiles with novel kite and radio‐acoustic sounding systems showed a well‐defined mesoscale circulation developed between the glacier and snow‐free valley in fair weather. The typical vertical ABL structure above the glacier differed from that expected for “glacier winds”; strong daytime down‐glacier winds extended through the lowest 200 m with no up‐valley return flow aloft. This structure suggests external forcing at mesoscale scales or greater and is provisionally termed an “icefield breeze.” A wind speed maximum near the surface, characteristic of a “glacier wind,” was only observed during night‐time and one afternoon. Lapse rates of air temperature down the glacier centerline show the interaction of down‐glacier cooling driven by sensible heat loss into the ice, entrainment and periodic disruption and warming. Down‐glacier cooling was weaker in “icefield breeze” conditions, while in “glacier wind” conditions, stronger down‐glacier cooling enabled large increases in near‐surface temperature on the lower glacier during periods of surface boundary layer (SBL) disruption. These results raise several questions, including the impact of Columbia Icefield on the ABL and melt of Athabasca Glacier. Future work should use these observations as a testbed for modeling spatio‐temporal variations in the ABL and SBL within complex glaciated terrain.

Read the full article here.

News article – predicting mountain snowpack

USask model for predicting mountain snowpack provides clearer picture of spring runoff, impacts of climate change

USask News
march 9, 2021

After decades of research, a new model was developed by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers that for the first time successfully predicted mountain snowpack with a high degree of accuracy and detail—information of critical importance for water management, agriculture, mining, recreation, and flood forecasting worldwide. Snow cover in the mountains is the principal driver of spring runoff.

Read the article here:,-impacts-of-climate-change.php