Exploitation of the Alberta oil sands, the world’s third-largest crude oil reserve, requires fresh water from the Athabasca River, an allocation of 4.4% of the mean annual flow. This allocation takes into account seasonal fluctuations but not long-term climatic variability and change. This paper examines the decadal-scale variability in
river discharge in the Athabasca River Basin (ARB) with (i) a generalized least-squares (GLS) regression analysis of the trend and variability in gauged flow and (ii) a 900-y tree-ring reconstruction of the water-year flow of the Athabasca River at Athabasca, Alberta. The GLS analysis removes confounding transient trends related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Pacific North American mode (PNA). It shows long-term declining flows throughout the ARB. The tree-ring record reveals a larger range of flows and severity of hydrologic deficits than those captured by the instrumental records that are the basis for surface water allocation.
The South Saskatchewan River Basin is one of Canada’s most threatened watersheds, with water supplies in most subbasins over-allocated. In 2013, stakeholders representing irrigation districts, the environment, and municipalities collaborated with researchers and consultants to explore opportunities to improve the resiliency of the management of the Oldman and South Saskatchewan River subbasins. Streamflow scenarios for 2025-2054 were constructed by the novel approach of regressing historical river flows against indices of large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate oscillations to derive statistical streamflow models, which were then run using projected climate indices from global climate models.
Increases in water scarcity represent the most serious climate risk. the Prairies are Canada’s major
dryland. Recent trends and future projections include lower summer streamflows, falling lake levels,
retreating glaciers, and increasing soil- and surface-water deficits. A trend of increased aridity will most
likely be realized through a greater frequency of dry years. Water management and conservation will
continue to enable adaptation to climate change and variability. this could include technologies for
improved efficiency of water use, as well as water pricing regimes that would more accurately reflect the
real costs of water treatment and supply, and help to ensure that an increasingly scarce resource is
properly allocated. Higher forest, grassland and crop productivity from increased heat and atmospheric
CO2 could be limited by available soil moisture, and dry soil is more susceptible to degradation. Water
scarcity is a constraint on all sectors and communities, and may constrain the rapid economic and
population growth in Alberta.
As rainfall in South-Central Chile has decreased in recent decades, local communities
and industries have developed an understandable concern about their threatened
water supply. Reconstructing streamflows from tree-ring data has been recognized as
a useful paleoclimatic tool in providing long-term perspectives on the temporal
characteristics of hydroclimate systems. Multi-century long streamflow reconstructions
can be compared to relatively short instrumental observations in order to analyze the
frequency of low and high water availability through time.
Debate and deliberation surrounding climate change has shifted from mitigation toward adaptation, with much of the
adaptation focus centered on adaptive practices, and infrastructure development. However, there is little research assessing
expected impacts, potential benefits, and design challenges that exist for reducing vulnerability to expected climate impacts.
The uncertainty of design requirements and associated government policies, and social structures that reflect observed and
projected changes in the intensity, duration, and frequency of water-related climate events leaves communities vulnerable to
the negative impacts of potential flood and drought. The results of international research into how agricultural infrastructure
features in current and planned adaptive capacity of rural communities in Argentina, Canada, and Colombia indicate that
extreme hydroclimatic events, as well as climate variability and unpredictability are important for understanding and
responding to community vulnerability. The research outcomes clearly identify the need to deliberately plan, coordinate, and
implement infrastructures that support community resiliency.
Due to its average aridity as well as historical experience with prolonged
droughts, the Dry Belt has long been identified as the most vulnerable
sub-region within the larger Palliser Triangle in the Great Plains of
southwestern Canada. Based upon 105 years of climate data, drought maps
are redrawn based upon the historical record of drought within the Dry Belt.
The result demonstrates that the size of the Dry Belt expands or contracts
dramatically depending on the precise period being analyzed. Given current
climate change scenarios, we should not be surprised to see a major expansion in the area of the Dry Belt in future decades similar to what was
experienced between 1928 and 1938.
The 20th century hydroclimatology of northwestern North America has been linked to naturally recurring large-scale climate patterns such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO). Few observed hydroclimatic records from this region exceed in length the w60-year
periodicity of the lower frequency climate oscillations; however, tree-ring proxy data from semi-arid
western North America document natural hydroclimate variation over centennial to millennial scales.
We reconstructed the summer Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) over the western Canadian Prairies,
providing a record of drought for the past 600 years.
This paper describes scenarios of climate change and water supply constructed to assess vulnerability of communities to future conditions in
the South Saskatchewan River Basin (ssrb). Output from five Global
Climate Models (gcms) forced with various future emission scenarios were
used to construct a range of future scenarios of temperature and precipitation
(i.e., median, warmest-wettest, warmest-driest, coolest-wettest, and coolestdriest) over the ssrb. Downscaling using the stochastic weather generator,
lars-wg, was also carried out at Lethbridge, Alberta, and Swift Current,
Saskatchewan, and results were compared to future scenarios derived using
the coarse resolution gcms solely
We established the statistical relationships between seasonal weather variables and average
annual wheat yield (Hard Red Spring and Durum wheat: Triticum spp.) for the period of 1979–2016
for 296 rural municipalities (RMs) throughout six soil zones comprising the arable agricultural
zone of Saskatchewan, Canada. Controlling climate variables were identified through Pearson’s
product moment correlation analysis and used in stepwise regression to predict wheat yields in each
RM. This analysis provided predictive regression equations and summary statistics at a fine spatial
resolution, explaining up to 75% of the annual variance of wheat yield, in order to re-evaluate the
climate factor rating in the arable land productivity model for the Saskatchewan Assessment and
Management Agency (SAMA).
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