CH is leading and co-ordinating a number of major projects, which bring together researchers with complementary interests and skills from a range of different disciplines and departments, both within the University of Saskatchewan, and from other institutions in Canada and worldwide.
Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory
The Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory (CRHO) aims to improve the understanding of and capacity to predict the changes in water yield from headwater basins where cold climate processes predominate. It will examine the water supply response to climate variability in a range of mountain headwater ecohydrological site types, incorporating the transient responses of both climate forcing and cryospheric and basin hydrological response. Particular attention will be paid to how snowpacks, glaciers, groundwater, wetlands, forests and frozen soils interact and modulate the response of water supply to variability in climate. An important component will be on downscaling climate model products over complex mountain terrain. The project will support improved water resource modelling and management over larger river basins such as the Saskatchewan River Basin by contributing advanced mountain headwater hydrological modelling capability and future flows under downscaled climate scenarios. It will do so by strengthening the hydrological and glaciological science foundation for estimating water resource impacts from future climate scenarios and by testing and improving hydrological models that can be used for current and future water resource assessments. The CRHO will also undertake a focussed effort to communicate scientific findings and new methods useful to governments, communities, and industry and to train and develop the next generation of cold regions hydrologists and glaciologists. More information on the CRHO is available here.
Vermilion River Basin Study
The Vermilion River Basin (VRB) is located in the Parkland Natural Region of Alberta and drains 7,860 km˛, approximately 14% of the North Saskatchewan River Basin. This region is typical of the hydrology of the north-central Prairies. The VRB has been identified as one of most altered basins in the North Saskatchewan River Basin by the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA). Of all the basin altering activities, wetland drainage is thought to be the most important in impacting watershed hydrology. The earliest drainage in the VRB was carried out in the Holden Drainage District in the upper basin starting in 1918. Subsequent drainage has occurred throughout the basin. Concerns relating to wetland drainage include enhanced flooding, deterioration in water quality, and impacts on the aquatic ecosystem. These concerns are of great interest to the NSWA that is responsible for completing a locally-developed and supported watershed plan that balances social, economic, and environmental needs of the watershed community. It is thought that application of the Cold Regions Hydrological Model Platform (CRHM) in the VRB can make contributions that will inform the development of this watershed plan. More information on the VRBS Project is available here.
DRI - The Drought Research Initiative (2005 - 2011)
DRI's objectives were to advance understanding of the physical processes at work in Canadian Prairie droughts, and to improve methods for their prediction, through an intense study of the severe drought of 1999 - 2004/05. The initiative brought together researchers from across the Prairie Provinces and elsewhere in Canada. More details are available on the DRI website.
IP3 - Improved Processes and Parameterisation for Prediction in Cold Regions (2005 - 2011)
The principal aim of IP3 was to gain further insights into the nature of, and interactions between, the physical processes controlling transfers of water between and within its solid, liquid, and gaseous states in high altitude (alpine) and high latitude (sub-arctic and arctic) environments, in order to develop software tools for streamflow prediction in these settings. The network included researchers from universities, government agencies and industry from throughout Canada, as well as contributors from the USA and Europe. More information is available from the IP3 website.
The Prairie Hydrological Model Study
This project involved a detailed study of the hydrology of the Smith Creek basin, in the eastern Saskatchewan Prairie, focusing on the influence of land cover and wetland processes on soil moisture and extreme flows in small streams. The insights afforded by the study supported development of an enhanced software model to represent the relationships between soil moisture and streamflow generation, which will improve the prediction of flooding, droughts and water supply not only in prairie settings, but also in other parts of the world. More information is posted here.
SGI Canada Prairie Hydrometeorological Program
The unique geographic setting and environmental characteristics of the Prairies are thought to make them particularly susceptible to extreme weather events as a corollary of likely climate-change scenarios. This study is aimed at identifying likely shifts in patterns, frequencies and intensities of severe rain and wind storms in the Prairies within this context, and thereby to contribute to the prediction and mitigation of these events. This five-year research program is made possible by a gift to the University of Saskatchewan by SGI Canada. More information is available here.
CRSI - Canadian Rockies Snow & Ice
The impact of climate change is particularly strong in the glacial and periglacial settings of high mountains. Not only do large areas of the country rely on water from alpine provenances, but these environments are at the heart of national identity, and have enormous recreational aesthetic and economic value. The motivation behind the establishment and development of CRSI is to build interdisciplinary scientific expertise in hydrometeorology, glaciology and ecology as it pertains to the 'Third Pole', and to broaden public awareness of related issues: as a first step, a speaker series was organised in early 2010. Plans are also progressing for a close association with the Western Watersheds Research Collaborative