By Mari-Louise Rowley – Rocky Mountain Outlook
Plans for an integrated hydrometeorological observation and prediction network focused on western Canada’s watersheds moved closer to reality as more than 80 delegates attended an international conference at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre in Canmore earlier this week.
Running Dec. 8-10, the Improving Water Security Through Integrated Observation and Prediction Networks conference drew top glaciologists, hydrologists and utility and government representatives from the U.S., France and across Canada.
“We’re all drinking from the same tap – the tap being the Canadian Rockies,” said John Pomeroy, University of Saskatchewan-based Canadian research chair in water resources and climate change. “Our water doesn’t stop in western Canada.”
Water that originates in the Rockies, from North America’s hydrological apex at Mount Snow Dome on the Columbia Icefields, eventually flows to three oceans, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic, while water from Bow Lake, the headwaters of the Bow River, flows through Calgary and southern Alberta to eventually feed the South Saskatchewan River.
And the issues that are affecting the flows of fresh water all over the world – pollution threats from industry, overuse due to population growth and decreased flows due to the impacts of climate change – are equally pressing in western Canada, Pomeroy said. As such, establishing a network dedicated to collecting data, conducting research, and predicting future flows is an important undertaking, but a restricted one given the work currently underway.
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