Canada Water Act annual report for 2017 to 2018: chapter 4

4 Research

4.1 Research on the impacts of climate change on aquatic systems

In 2017–2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada undertook a number of activities to quantify and predict local, regional and national sensitivities of hydrological regimes and aquatic ecosystems to climate change, including:

  • collection of testbed data to assist in the development of next generation climate-permafrost-hydrology models
  • collaboration with universities and provincial and territorial agencies to build components of a pan-Canadian network capable of determining the impacts of permafrost thawing on water resources
  • examination of the effects of permafrost degradation on fluvial sediment dynamics
  • examination of the linkage between terrestrial flow pathways and sediment sources with changes in moisture content/condition (permafrost thaw, rainfall)
  • assessment of current ability to simulate and predict large riverine and water chemistry input to the Arctic Ocean
  • maintenance of energy flux sites at fixed locations and with partners by enhanced mobile platforms with new mounted observation systems
  • quantifying the impacts on river and lake ice phenologyFootnote 3  in northern regions
  • evaluating changes in peak runoff events to the Arctic Ocean
  • research at the Baker Creek Research Catchment to evaluate the impact of permafrost degradation on water cycling and chemistry in the subarctic Canadian Shield
  • contributing to a national assessment of past trends and projected future changes to several freshwater availability indicators across Canada
  • assessing projected future drought/water availability across Canada using the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index derived from output using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5Footnote 4  climate scenario data
  • assessing climate variability and change on prairie wetlands and hydrology, including resultant impacts on the water quality in the Prairie’s watershed; and
  • assessing the vulnerability of western Canadian watersheds reliant on water from mountain headwaters to increasing drought risk and diminishing snow packs in collaboration with international and national academic organizations
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