Team lead Dr. Martyn Clark (PhD) and distinguished professor Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD). (Photo: Submitted)

USask experts collaborate on international project to transform water predictions

A team of hydrologists from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and University of Calgary (UCalgary) comprises the Canadian contingent in an unprecedented international collaboration that aims to revolutionize flood predictions across North America.

Unprecedented flooding over the past decade that has devastated hundreds of millions of people across the globe and caused billion of dollars in damage—including last year’s massive floods in British Columbia and the 2013 flood that hit Calgary—underlines the pressing need for this research. 

Dr. Martyn Clark (PhD), professor in the Department of Geography and Planning in the College of Arts and Science, is the team lead for USask. He will be joined by departmental colleague and Distinguished Professor Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD), along with Prof. Dr. Alain Pietroniro (PhD) of UCalgary’s Schulich School of Engineering. 

The international collaboration, called the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), will be headquartered in the Alabama Water Institute (AWI) at the University of Alabama. CIROH brings together experts from 28 academic institutions and non-profit organizations, as well as government and industry partners from the U.S. and Canada to develop next-generation water prediction capabilities. 

“This collaboration will focus on the intersection between hydrological science, computer science, and decision science, building a collaborative modelling ecosystem that will likely become the new standard for hydrological prediction and informing decisions globally,” said Clark.   

Although the Canadian members will contribute expertise in cold region hydrology to CIROH, they will work on both sides of the border. As well, the goal is to have U.S. researchers come every two years for modelling meetings at USask’s Coldwater Laboratory in Canmore, Alta., that is operated by the Centre for Hydrology. The Coldwater lab would be gradually expanded if the budget allows. 

“The new modelling will simulate hydrological processes across the continent’s varied hydroclimatic regimes. The goal is to improve advance warning of floods, droughts and harmful water quality conditions that help communities protect lives and livelihoods,” Clark said. 

The modelling also will provide predictions that enable administrative bodies to optimize water supply and irrigation, hydro power operations, reservoir management, and recreation.  

The CIROH initiative is funded by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a grant of up to $360 million over five years. 


We are excited that USask’s world-class hydrologists will be collaborating with colleagues across the continent on the unprecedented CIROH project to transform hydrological prediction in North America. This collaboration will leverage significant Canadian and U.S. investments in hydrological science and contribute to protecting people and livelihoods across the world as climate change demands that we are prepared as never before.” Dr. Baljit Singh (PhD, MVSc), USask Vice-President Research. 

We’re delighted to include the Canadians as an integral part of the CIROH effort. We’ve been very impressed with the recent advances in hydrologic modelling and prediction at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Calgary. We’re looking forward to this new era of international co-operation that will help us increase hydrologic prediction capabilities across the North American continent. —Dr. Steve Burian (PhD), principal investigator CIROH, University of Alabama.  

“The College of Arts and Science is proud to be home to the world-class hydrologists who are leading Canada’s contributions to global scientific advances in the prediction and management of water supplies for future generations.” —Dr. Bram Noble (PhD), vice-dean Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work, USask. 

“It is heartening that decades of research on hydrology and hydrological prediction in Canada, most recently in the Global Water Futures program, have been recognized as useful for developing applications to the continent. This shows the value of long-term hydrology research strategies that have been adopted at USask and at UCalgary. We look forward to working with our new partners at the University of Alabama and throughout the U.S. on this grand mission of improved hydrological forecasting.” Dr. John Pomeroy (PhD), director, USask Centre for Hydrology and Global Water Futures program. 

“Our department is excited to enhance our collaborations with the University of Saskatchewan on this important international project. We are thrilled to have our water faculty help lead Canada’s contributions to this important prediction work and contribute to the future of sustainable management of water supplies.” —Dr. Jocelyn Hayley (PhD), chair, Department of Civil Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. 

“As a professor in civil engineering and former executive director of Canada’s National Hydrological Service, I’m excited by the opportunity for continued collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan and very excited by this great opportunity for enhanced collaboration with U.S. colleagues. This U.S./Canada modelling collaboration will have very positive impacts in both countries and across the transboundary domain.” —Dr. Alain Pietroniro (PhD), professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Water Systems, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. 

Article re-posted on Apr 26, 2022.
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