Improving Processes & Parameterization
for Prediction in Cold Regions Hydrology
Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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Centre for Hydrology

IP3 Science

The hydrological cycle is complicated in cold regions by the storage of water in its solid state: in order to quantify water resources, or to provide advance warning of extreme conditions such as drought or flood, it is is essential to understand the physical controls which govern the rate and timing of transitions between snow or ice and liquid water or water vapour. Thus far, these systems have been understood only relatively poorly.

The principal objective of the IP3 research programme is to improve understanding of the interaction between atmospheric, land-surface, biophysical and hydrological systems, in order to build enhanced predictive models, thereby enabling more accurate quantification of water resources in cold regions.

High-level synopses of IP3's scientific approach are available from brochures (published in English and Français), and the 'IP3 Primer'. More detailed descriptions are provided in pages found by following the links listed below.

IP3 science is organised into three eponymous themes;

Theme 1: Processes
Theme Lead: Sean Carey (e-mail; www), Carleton University
The first task is to improve our understanding of the key physical processes involved in the hydrometeorology of cold regions, through intensive and extensive observation and analysis of the physical characteristics and interactions of climate and weather, the cryosphere, land surface and sub-surface, water bodies and the biosphere, in a range of high-latitude / high-altitude research basins.

Theme 2: Parameterisation
Theme Lead: Bill Quinton (e-mail; www), Wilfrid Laurier University
Having observed and described the processes at work in the coupled atmospheric-hydrological systems of cold regions, the next step is to identify the set of variables and constants which control their activity, and to derive and refine mathematical formulae and algorithms through which they may be represented in numerical models.

Theme 3: Prediction
Theme Lead: Alain Pietroniro (e-mail; www), University of Saskatchewan
The ultimate aim is to integrate these strands of process-level representation, combining the individual high-resolution models into synoptic systems which provide enhanced predictive capabilities at scales ranging from local (sub-kilometric to ~10km resolution) to regional (10s to 100s of km). With testing and validation, these models will provide improved prediction and simulation of water resources in response to atmospheric impacts in cold regions.

Progress towards these goals is described in the network's annual science reports;
- Year 1 (2006-2007)
- Year 2 (2007-2008)
- Year 3 (2008-2009)

IP3 is also making a significant contribution to the International Polar Year 2007-8: details are available here.