Predicting risks and opportunities for ecosystem water demand under future climate change and variability

Alberta’s wetlands have been disappearing since late 1800s, and are sensitive to both water and land management practices. These natural areas continue to be under direct and indirect pressures from human settlement that may result in further loss or degradation.

The Watershed Science and Modelling Laboratory conducts a model based research project to assess water related opportunities and risks for Alberta’s ecosystem services and wetlands through integration of our existing surface hydrologic model into a process based ground water model. Through our previous AI funded PAWF project we have recently developed a detailed hydrologic model of Alberta that simulates hydrological processes and freshwater components at subbasin spatial and monthly temporal resolution. Integration with the ground water model allows assessment of cumulative effects of natural features (e.g., impacts of climate change and climate variability on surface water including blue-green water components and ground water) and anthropogenic factors (e.g., landuse change, regulation through dams, irrigation, and industrial development) on wetland viability and restoration.