Mountain Water Futures

Providing better information, tools, and techniques to manage uncertain water futures in Canada's mountain west

PI's: Sean K. Carey, McMaster University; Brian Menounos, University of Northern British Columbia; Masaki Hayashi, University of Calgary 

Project Manager: Sarah Irvine

The Problem: Mountains source water for over half of humanity, and Canada’s western mountains are the headwaters of the Saskatchewan, Mackenzie, Yukon, Columbia and Fraser rivers that flow to the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans. These river drainage basins cradle much of Canada’s economic activity west of the Great Lakes. Critical pressures include rapid population growth, climate change, hydroelectricity, fisheries, mining and agriculture.

The Plan: The goal of this project is to understand future water for the mountains of Western Canada and to improve the ability to predict future hydrological regimes and plan appropriate adaptation. Changes to Canada’s western mountains are having profound and rapid impact on the rate, magnitude and timing of streamflow regimes, which is challenging current water resource management practices in the region.

The Outcome: The project team will develop a user-driven mountain west observation and prediction system for snow, glaciers and hydrology in mountainous terrain. This includes montane and alpine environments in the Rocky, Coast, Columbia, Mackenzie and Richardson Mountains that are the major headwaters of western Canada’s east, west and north flowing rivers.