New Article – Saskatchewan Wetlands

Peiris: Saskatchewan wetlands at critical point, protection policy needed

Sarath Peiris
The Star Phoenix
February 18, 2021

It’s astounding that Saskatchewan still doesn’t have a comprehensive policy to manage and preserve its wetlands, which have been steadily drained since the early 1900s to accommodate agriculture. More than 50 per cent of these invaluable sites have now disappeared while the rest are under threat.

With half of Canada’s arable land, Saskatchewan should be the leader in acting to preserve wetlands that provide a wide array of environmental services such as serving as wildlife habitats and carbon sinks, producing pollinators, recharging aquifers, purifying water, retaining nutrients, mitigating flooding, contributing to soil health, and providing water security in a drought-prone province.

Read the full article here.

New Journal Publication – Mountain Snowpack Prediction

Multi-scale snowdrift-permitting modelling of mountain snowpack

Vincent Vionnet, Christopher B. Marsh, Brian Menounos, Simon Gascoin, Nicholas E. Wayand, Joseph Shea, Kriti Mukherjee, and John W. Pomeroy

The Cryosphere,  Volume 15, Issue 2
February 17, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-743-2021

Abstract
The interaction of mountain terrain with meteorological processes causes substantial temporal and spatial variability in snow accumulation and ablation. Processes impacted by complex terrain include large-scale orographic enhancement of snowfall, small-scale processes such as gravitational and wind-induced transport of snow, and variability in the radiative balance such as through terrain shadowing. In this study, a multi-scale modelling approach is proposed to simulate the temporal and spatial evolution of high-mountain snowpacks. The multi-scale approach combines atmospheric data from a numerical weather prediction system at the kilometre scale with process-based downscaling techniques to drive the Canadian Hydrological Model (CHM) at spatial resolutions allowing for explicit snow redistribution modelling. CHM permits a variable spatial resolution by using the efficient terrain representation by unstructured triangular meshes. The model simulates processes such as radiation shadowing and irradiance to slopes, blowing-snow transport (saltation and suspension) and sublimation, avalanching, forest canopy interception and sublimation, and snowpack melt. Short-term, kilometre-scale atmospheric forecasts from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Global Environmental Multiscale Model through its High Resolution Deterministic Prediction System (HRDPS) drive CHM and are downscaled to the unstructured mesh scale. In particular, a new wind-downscaling strategy uses pre-computed wind fields from a mass-conserving wind model at 50 m resolution to perturb the mesoscale HRDPS wind and to account for the influence of topographic features on wind direction and speed. HRDPS-CHM was applied to simulate snow conditions down to 50 m resolution during winter 2017/2018 in a domain around the Kananaskis Valley (∼1000 km2) in the Canadian Rockies. Simulations were evaluated using high-resolution airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) snow depth data and snow persistence indexes derived from remotely sensed imagery. Results included model falsifications and showed that both wind-induced and gravitational snow redistribution need to be simulated to capture the snowpack variability and the evolution of snow depth and persistence with elevation across the region. Accumulation of windblown snow on leeward slopes and associated snow cover persistence were underestimated in a CHM simulation driven by wind fields that did not capture lee-side flow recirculation and associated wind speed decreases. A terrain-based metric helped to identify these lee-side areas and improved the wind field and the associated snow redistribution. An overestimation of snow redistribution from windward to leeward slopes and subsequent avalanching was still found. The results of this study highlight the need for further improvements of snowdrift-permitting models for large-scale applications, in particular the representation of subgrid topographic effects on snow transport.

Read the full article here.

 

New Water Towers Article in Chemistry and Industry Magazine

Water Towers Threatened

Anthony King
C&I Issue 12, 2020

“The earliest agricultural civilisations in the Middle East were built around managing mountain water supplies, holding back water to irrigate lowland areas. Mountain water is still critical in many regions. But it is increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change.”

Read the C&I Article here: https://www.soci.org/chemistry-and-industry/cni-data/2020/12/water-towers-threatened

New Journal Article – Snow Model Intercomparison

Scientific and Human Errors in a Snow Model Intercomparison

Cecile B. Menard, Richard Essery, Gerhard Krinner, Gabriele Arduini, Paul Bartlett, Aaron Boone, Claire Brutel-Vuilmet, Eleanor Burke, Matthias Cuntz, Yongjiu Dai, Bertrand Decharme, Emanuel Dutra, Xing Fang, Charles Fierz, Yeugeniy Gusev, Stefan Hagemann, Vanessa Haverd, Hyungjun Kim, Matthieu Lafaysse, Thomas Marke, Olga Nasonova, Tomoko Nitta, Masashi Niwano, John Pomeroy, Gerd Schädler, Vladimir A. Semenov, Tatiana Smirnova, Ulrich Strasser, Sean Swenson, Dmitry Turkov, Nander Wever, and Hua Yuan

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 101, Issue 1
January 14, 2021
https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-19-0329.1

Abstract
Twenty-seven models participated in the Earth System Model–Snow Model Intercomparison Project (ESM-SnowMIP), the most data-rich MIP dedicated to snow modeling. Our findings do not support the hypothesis advanced by previous snow MIPs: evaluating models against more variables and providing evaluation datasets extended temporally and spatially does not facilitate identification of key new processes requiring improvement to model snow mass and energy budgets, even at point scales. In fact, the same modeling issues identified by previous snow MIPs arose: albedo is a major source of uncertainty, surface exchange parameterizations are problematic, and individual model performance is inconsistent. This lack of progress is attributed partly to the large number of human errors that led to anomalous model behavior and to numerous resubmissions. It is unclear how widespread such errors are in our field and others; dedicated time and resources will be needed to tackle this issue to prevent highly sophisticated models and their research outputs from being vulnerable because of avoidable human mistakes. The design of and the data available to successive snow MIPs were also questioned. Evaluation of models against bulk snow properties was found to be sufficient for some but inappropriate for more complex snow models whose skills at simulating internal snow properties remained untested. Discussions between the authors of this paper on the purpose of MIPs revealed varied, and sometimes contradictory, motivations behind their participation. These findings started a collaborative effort to adapt future snow MIPs to respond to the diverse needs of the community.

Read the full article here.

New Journal Article – Snow cover duration

Snow cover duration trends observed at sites and predicted by multiple models

Richard Essery, Hyungjun Kim, Libo Wang, Paul Bartlett, Aaron Boone, Claire Brutel-Vuilmet, Eleanor Burke, Matthias Cuntz, Bertrand Decharme, Emanuel Dutra, Xing Fang, Yeugeniy Gusev, Stefan Hagemann, Vanessa Haverd, Anna Kontu, Gerhard Krinner, Matthieu Lafaysse, Yves Lejeune, Thomas Marke, Danny Marks, Christoph Marty, Cecile B. Menard, Olga Nasonova, Tomoko Nitta, John Pomeroy, Gerd Schädler, Vladimir Semenov, Tatiana Smirnova, Sean Swenson, Dmitry Turkov, Nander Wever, and Hua Yuan

The Cryosphere, Vol 14, Issue 12
December 21, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13986

Abstract:
The 30-year simulations of seasonal snow cover in 22 physically based models driven with bias-corrected meteorological reanalyses are examined at four sites with long records of snow observations. Annual snow cover durations differ widely between models, but interannual variations are strongly correlated because of the common driving data. No significant trends are observed in starting dates for seasonal snow cover, but there are significant trends towards snow cover ending earlier at two of the sites in observations and most of the models. A simplified model with just two parameters controlling solar radiation and sensible heat contributions to snowmelt spans the ranges of snow cover durations and trends. This model predicts that sites where snow persists beyond annual peaks in solar radiation and air temperature will experience rapid decreases in snow cover duration with warming as snow begins to melt earlier and at times of year with more energy available for melting.

Read the full article here.

New Article- What Canada’s melting glaciers tell USask researchers

Chris Morin
University of Saskatchewan News
Jan 8, 2021

It may seem unfathomable, but these masses of ice are melting at an alarming rate. Canadian glaciers have shrunk 15 per cent since 1985, and estimated glacier loss in the Rockies could rise to 100 per cent by the end of the century, according to University of Saskatchewan (USask) hydrology PhD candidate Caroline Aubry-Wake.

One of the areas that Aubry-Wake conducts research at is the Peyto Glacier in Banff National Park and the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. It’s an area that’s a cause for alarm—not just the immediate region, but also those areas downstream—and a look at the region’s rapid ice loss makes this clear.

Read the full article at: https://news.usask.ca/articles/research/2021/what-canadas-melting-glaciers-tell-usask-researchers.php

New Journal Article – Isotope analysis of subalpine forest water sources

A δ18O and δ2H stable water isotope analysis of subalpine forest water sources under seasonal and hydrological stress in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Lindsey E. Langs, Richard M. Petrone and John W. Pomeroy

Hydrological Processes
Volume 24, Issue 26
December 18, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13986

Abstract:
Subalpine forests are hydrologically important to the function and health of mountain basins. Identifying the specific water sources and the proportions used by subalpine forests is necessary to understand potential impacts to these forests under a changing climate. The recent “Two Water Worlds” hypothesis suggests that trees can favour tightly bound soil water instead of readily available free‐flowing soil water. Little is known about the specific sources of water used by subalpine trees Abies lasiocarpa (Subalpine fir) and Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce) in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In this study, stable water isotope (δ18O and δ2H) samples were obtained from S. fir and Engelmann spruce trees at three points of the growing season in combination with water sources available at time of sampling (snow, vadose zone water, saturated zone water, precipitation). Using the Bayesian Mixing Model, MixSIAR, relative source water proportions were calculated. In the drought summer examined, there was a net loss of water via evapotranspiration from the system. Results highlighted the importance of tightly vadose zone, or bound soil water, to subalpine forests, providing insights of future health under sustained years of drought and net loss in summer growing seasons. This work builds upon concepts from the “Two Water Worlds” hypothesis, showing that subalpine trees can draw from different water sources depending on season and availability. In our case, water use was largely driven by a tension gradient within the soil allowing trees to utilize vadose zone water and saturated zone water at differing points of the growing season.

Read the full article here.

 

New Article – ‘It’s been a pretty wild ride’: USask course attracts students from around the world, demonstrates innovation in teaching and learning

By Shannon Boklaschuk
College of Arts & Science News
December 3, 2020

The first university course Dr. Martyn Clark (PhD) ever taught is memorable for many reasons.

First, Clark started teaching the University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate geography course—GEOG 825—in September 2020, when most USask classes moved online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Second, because the course was offered remotely, students from more than a dozen countries around the world signed up. Third, Clark employed innovative teaching and learning practices in the course, including cloud computing, super-computing and hands-on model development.

As a result, teaching GEOG 825 involved a lot of “learning by doing,” said Clark, a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning in USask’s College of Arts and Science and the associate director of the Centre for Hydrology. “It’s been a pretty wild ride,” he said.

Read the full article here.

New Article – Monitoring climate change at Trail Valley Creek Arctic Research Station

By Nick Skinner
Laurier Campus Magazine
Fall 2020

Nearly 4,000 km northwest of Wilfrid Laurier University’s southern Ontario campuses, where mainland Canada meets the Arctic Ocean, lies Trail Valley Creek Arctic Research Station. Located between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, it is Laurier’s northern-most research station and this year marks its 30th anniversary.

Now the longest-running hydrologically focused Arctic research station in Canada, Trail Valley Creek has become a productive field site for Laurier’s Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science, which maintains more than 50 research sites north of Ontario’s Ring of Fire. It is also central to the university’s decade-long partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Dedicated to understanding and predicting environmental changes near the treeline in the western Canadian Arctic, the research station is an interactive training ground for Laurier students and hosts international collaborators from organizations including NASA and the University of Edinburgh.

Read the full article here.

 

New Article – John Pomeroy’s love of place fuels world-leading scientific work

Bryn Levy
Star Phoenix, November 19, 2020

“Maybe it sounds silly, but I really have to love a place to understand it scientifically as well.”

Growing up downwind of Lake Erie may have helped steer John Pomeroy toward a career in water science.
“I was always taught ‘never touch lake water,’ ” he says of his childhood in northern Ohio.

“The area I lived in was very polluted. The river nearby would catch fire because of the heavy oil slicks on it. Lake Erie was dying at the time and the stench of dead fish off it was awful,” Pomeroy, now 60, says from his home just outside Saskatoon.

Pomeroy currently serves as Canada research chair in water resources and climate change at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as director of the school’s Global Water Futures Programme and the University of Saskatchewan Centre for Hydrology.

Read the full article here.