Boreal Water Futures

PI: Mike Waddington, McMaster University

The Problem: The boreal wetland and forest ecosystems are a critically-important global resource. Climate warming is changing landscapes, ecosystems and river flows, and urbanization, natural resource development and an intensification in climate-mediated natural water disasters (e.g. drought, wildfire) are placing ever-increasing threats and risks to the economy and human health and safety. For example, the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire destroyed 2,400 homes, led to the evacuation of approximately 80,000 people, and resulted in the estimated damage of $8.9 billion.

The Plan: To develop a more effective water futures risk assessment framework for the boreal region that provides both a next generation future climate and extreme weather product and future wildfire regimes prediction tool for provincial and federal government agencies, NGOs, and industry.

The Outcome:  The objective of this project and its research is to develop a water futures risk assessment framework for boreal users and stakeholders to create a more resilient wildland-society-water nexus in Canada’s boreal landscape and to develop improved pan-boreal future climate change, extreme weather, and fire regimes predictions; and leverage existing infrastructure and partner in-kind support to establish an evidence-based pan-Canadian Boreal Observation Network.