Protecting the Prairies' Water Resources
The Canadian Prairies suffer from highly variable water resources; water supplies are scarce, seasonal and hard to predict. This is affecting economic growth in this region. For example, rural water shortages have contributed to dramatic rural population declines in the last 50 years, poor water quality makes many supplies unusable, and increasing demand in some large urban areas is reaching the limit of allocations. Predictions of future climate changes and an increased demand for water will make unsustainable demands on these resources. In order to mitigate adverse effects and adapt to future changes, we must gain a better understanding of how climate and land use interact with water resources, and how to predict water supply and flooding in the Prairies with reduced uncertainty. Dr. John Pomeroy's research will address water resource and related climate issues that are critical to managing the environment and sustaining society in western and northern Canada. His three specific objectives are to improve assessments of water supply variability, understand the interactions between hydrological and atmospheric processes, and understand the interactions between hydrology and water quality. His research will focus on the dry and cold lands in western and northern Canada where many temperate zone hydrological technologies are proving inappropriate for local water management issues. In these regions, persistent water shortages occur, and snow accumulation and melt result in unique water management possibilities as well as destructive spring floods. Dr. Pomeroy is concentrating on six key themes including the effects of variable climate on water supply; development of a Prairie hydrology model; an improved description of the interactions between the atmosphere and snow; cold land hydrological processes; snowmelt flooding; and release of snow contaminants to the environment. This program will collaborate with partners from the federal and provincial governments, international agencies and researchers at the university, and will rely on intensive field studies to develop sound theories and models.