Summary

The Global Water Futures program is excited to announce funding for 21 research projects under Pillars 1 & 2 across Canada totalling nearly $6.6 million over the next three years to tackle some of Canada's most pressing water-related challenges. 

These new 21 projects will deliver on two key areas: transformative science to help us understand, diagnose and predict change, and developing new decision support systems using new sensors, analytical procedures, and computer models. These projects will complement the previously funded user-question led Pillar 3 projects, and contribute to a better understanding of snow and rain storms, floods and droughts, how to better measure and manage the quality of source waters, how deep groundwater is affected by the surface, how to improve water governance and even how to encourage global water citizenship. 

In total, 94 researchers from 10 Canadian universities are involved in collaboration with 37 partners (9 international institutions; 9 government agencies; 9 industry partners; 7 non-governmental organizations; 3 Indigenous communities/governments). This will also include the hiring of over 100 highly-qualified personnel over the next three years. The projects are leveraging the GWF investment of $6.6 million with an additional $423,000 in cash and $3.2 million of in-kind contributions from partners. 



Southern Forests Water Futures

PI: Altaf Arain, McMaster University

Collaborative Modelling Framework for Water Futures and Holistic Human Health Effects

PI: Lalita BharadwajUniversity of Saskatchewan 

Linking Water Governance in Canada to Global Economic, Social and Political Drivers

PI: Rob de Loe, University of Waterloo

Old Meets New: Subsurface Hydrogeological Connectivity and Groundwater Protection

PI: Grant Ferguson, University of Saskatchewan

Omic’ and Chemical Fingerprinting Methodologies using Ultrahigh-Resolution Mass Spectrometry for Geochemistry and Healthy Waters

PI: Paul JonesUniversity of Saskatchewan

Evaluation of Ice Models in Large Lakes using Three-Dimensional Coupled Hydrodynamic-Ice Models

PI: Kevin Lamb, University of Waterloo

Short‐Duration Extreme Precipitation in Future Climate

PI: Yanping Li, University of Saskatchewan 

Diagnosing Policy and Governance Effectiveness for Agricultural Water Management During Times of Change

PI: Philip LoringUniversity of Saskatchewan

Linking Stream Network Process Models to Robust Data Management Systems for the Purpose of Land-Use Decision Support

PI: Bruce MacVicar, University of Waterloo

Winter Soil Processes in Transition

PI: Fereidoun Rezanezhad, University of Waterloo

Global Water Citizenship - Integrating Networked Citizens, Scientists and Local Decision Makers

PI: Colin Robertson, Wilfrid Laurier University

Sensors and Sensing Systems for Water Quality Monitoring

PI: Ravi SelvaganapathyMcMaster University  |    Project ManagerAditya Aryasomayajula 

Linking Multiple Stressors to Adverse Ecological Responses Across Watersheds

PI: Mark Servos, University of Waterloo

Crowdsourcing Water Science 

PI: Graham StrickertUniversity of Saskatchewan

Storms and Precipitation Across the Continental Divide Experiment (SPADE)

PI: Julie TheriaultUniversity of Quebec at Montreal

SAMMS: Sub-Arctic Metal Mobility Study

PI: Brent Wolfe, Wilfrid Laurier University

Adaptation Governance and Policy Changes in Relation to a Changing Moisture Regime Across the Southern Boreal Forest

PI: Colin LaroqueUniversity of Saskatchewan

Significance of Groundwater Dynamics Within Hydrologic Models

PI: Walter Illman, University of Waterloo

Diagnosing and Mitigating Hydrologic Model Uncertainty in High-Latitude Canadian Watersheds

PI: Tricia Stadnyk, University of Manitoba

Hydrological Processes in Frozen Soils

PI: Andrew IresonUniversity of Saskatchewan

Improved Estimates of Wetland Evaporation 

PI: Warren HelgasonUniversity of Saskatchewan

 


Southern Forests Water Futures

PI: Altaf Arain, McMaster University

Co-I's: Joe Boyce; San-Tae Kim; Jing Chen; Michael Pisaric, McMaster University

Forest ecosystems cover about 40% (397 Mha) of Canada's surface area and play a major role in providing sustainable water resources and healthy environments for communities in cold regions in Canada and across the world. A large portion of these forests (230 Mha) has traditionally been managed or harvested for wood production and resource extraction – practices which can impact regional water resources. Forest management has evolved from stand replacement practices to reduced disturbances such as thinning or regeneration enhancement methods. The impacts of these partial canopy disturbances on processes affecting energy, carbon and water balances are challenging to observe and quantify. In addition, climate change and extreme weather events introduce additional stresses that can impact forest growth, composition, water budgets, resilience and overall survival. In southeastern Canada, large population centres and industrial, municipal and agricultural land use activities put a strain on forest ecosystems and local water resources, which will be further complicated by future climatic changes.

The proposed work will develop and improve process-based land surface and ecosystem models (e.g. Canadian Land Surface Scheme-Canadian Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (CLASS-CTEM) and Boreal Ecosystems Productivity Simulator (BEPS) to more accurately account for cold region processes, through development and testing of new novel canopy conductance, evapotranspiration and ground water interflow algorithms. This modelling work will help to improve the predictive capabilities of the Canadian regional and global climate models. BEPS is incorporated in the Canadian regional (Global Environmental Multiscale Model, (GEM)) model and CLASS-CTEM is used in the Canadian Earth System Model (Can-ESM). Project data will be available to Canadian and international user communities and to the public through GWF Big-Data archives.

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Collaborative Modelling Framework for Water Futures and Holistic Human Health Effects

PI: Lalita Bharadwaj, University of Saskatchewan 

Agent Based Modeling as a tool to Investigate Comprehensive Indigenous Health Impacts of Flooding - Grounded by diverse data sources, we will develop a model framework with ABM to assess and investigate comprehensive impacts on Indigenous communities from flooding and demonstrate its capability as an operational tool for evaluating and supporting health services, emergency planning and management measures. We will contribute to the sustainability of Indigenous communities and their environments by providing a tool to investigate complex interactions and feedbacks between human and natural systems and to communicate understanding of flooding impacts and improvements to mitigation measures. The model framework in future will be applied towards other unresolved public health and water issues including Canada’s most pressing public health issue- Drinking Water in Indigenous Nations.

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Linking Water Governance in Canada to Global Economic, Social and Political Drivers

PI: Rob de Loe, University of Waterloo

Co-I: Dustin Garrick, University of Waterloo

In countries around the world, water resources are under pressure from numerous chronic and acute sources. Problems such as overuse and contamination persist despite decades of sustained attention from governments, researchers, international organizations and civil society. Improving governance is necessary, but the crucial role of external social, economic and political drivers and forces that operate beyond national borders yet impact governance within countries must be accounted for more effectively. Canada’s water resources and governance systems are subject to these drivers and forces. Some originate from within the larger water sector, but others are linked to decisions and actions in sectors operating at the national, continental and global levels that are not normally considered part of the water sector (e.g., energy policy makers, the banking and investment communities). Hence, in the same way that climate scientists need to understand how climate and water resources in Canada are influenced by continental and global climate drivers, those interested in strengthening Canada’s ability to respond to water challenges through improving governance need to better recognize and account for the crucial role played by external social, political and economic drivers and forces operating beyond Canada’s borders.

The overarching goal of the proposed research is to identify and assess social, economic and political trends internal and external to the water sector that have, or may have, implications for water governance in Canada, and to assess ways of adapting water governance in Canada to better account for those drivers. A distinctive feature of our proposed project is knowledge co-production with key stakeholders and collaborators.

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Old Meets New: Subsurface Hydrogeological Connectivity and Groundwater Protection

PI: Grant Ferguson, University of Saskatchewan 

Co-I's: Jim Hendry; Lee Barbour; Matt Lindsay; Jeffrey McDonnell, University of Saskatchewan

Recent concerns have risen for deeper groundwater systems due to issues related to unconventional oil and gas development and subsurface waste disposal – areas which both suffer from data scarcity. The first phase of this project will conduct a review of the available data for western Canada to improve our understanding of hydrogeological connectivity. We will select a number of case studies to represent typical hydrogeological environments of concern and produce a series of maps and databases to improve our understanding of the hydrogeological settings. Water chemistry will be compiled for various hydrogeological units to improve our ability to fingerprint and differentiate groundwaters. This data will be supplemented by sampling and analysis of water from provincial groundwater monitoring networks and other sampling opportunities from industry. Numerical models will be used to interpret existing physical and chemical hydrogeological data for a series of case studies and improve our conceptual understanding of these systems. These models will constrain the likelihood of significant connectivity between aquifers containing potable and poor quality groundwaters. The methods and findings from these studies will be compared to other regions, both within Canada and internationally, to generalize the findings of this study. The second phase will also focus on developing additional case studies within western Canada to test and improve the findings of the first phase. We will also seek to develop similar databases for eastern Canada, making use of provincial groundwater monitoring efforts and NRCan’s BASIN oil and gas database for eastern Canada.

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Developing ‘Omic’ and Chemical Fingerprinting Methodologies using Ultrahigh-Resolution Mass Spectrometry for Geochemistry and Healthy Waters

PI: Paul Jones, University of Saskatchewan

Co-I's: John Giesy; Markus Hecker, University of Saskatchewan 

‘Omics’ approaches such as proteomics, lipidomics and metabolomics along with chemical fingerprinting technologies can be used as powerful tools to monitor the current status and to predict future trends in ecosystem structure and function. As an example, organisms living in Canada’s north and at high altitudes, must annually adjust their metabolisms and the lipid components in their cellular membranes to adapt to changing temperatures. Any alterations in the magnitudes or timing of changes in temperature or sources of food could have severe, even catastrophic, negative effects on individual organisms, and ultimately on whole ecosystems and the services they provide to humans. Also, nutrient cycling that controls eutrophication and associated harmful algal blooms (HABs) is controlled, in part, by organic forms of phosphorus and nitrogen and dissolved organic matter that can be better characterized by UHR-MS.

Natural constituents of surface waters, such as humic and fulvic acids, proteins and amino acids are important for regulating geochemical processes, but are complex and to date have not been well characterized. Also, toxic products of HABs are complex and have been difficult to characterize, but the newly established UHR-MS systems will allow for much better characterization of these important compounds. This request for years 1-3, is primarily for highly qualified personnel (HQP) to develop and validate methods that take full advantage of the new state-of-the-art equipment, while also providing support and training for other on-going GWF projects and personnel. The longer-term goal (years 4-7) is to work with researchers to apply these techniques to assess aquatic resources in support of end-user needs and priorities of the GWF platform.

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Evaluation of Ice Models in Large Lakes using Three-Dimensional Coupled Hydrodynamic-Ice Models

PI: Kevin Lamb, University of Waterloo

Co-I's: Marek Stastna; Andrea Scott; University of Waterloo

The primary goal of this project is to compare and validate the ability of two existing ice models to simulate the evolution of ice cover on large lakes at large and small scales. The nature of Ice cover in large lakes is very different from that in small lakes in that (i) large lakes are typically only partially covered; and (ii) ice in large lakes is often fragmented and drifts around the lake under the action of wind. Simulations using two ice models, both of which include snow, will be carried out using the same hydrodynamic core, so that differences observed can be attributed to differences between the ice models, as opposed to the manner in which the hydrodynamics is represented. We will use the MITgcm as the hydrodynamic core. The first ice-model will be the ice-model included in the MITgcm. The second model we will use is the Los Alamos Sea Ice Model (CICE). Both large scale simulations of entire lakes and small scale process studies will be undertaken. The small scale process studies will focus on lake ice dynamics and convection near the ice edge and under ice. We will also add a Lagrangian model to simulate three-dimensional frazil ice formation.

The primary location of application of the model evaluation will be Lake Erie. The partial ice cover common to Lake Erie winters, the differences between the three basins that make up the lake, and the rich biogeochemistry make this the ideal choice for this study. Secondary focus regions will be, Lake Ontario, and the outflow of the fast flowing, highly turbulent, Niagara River.

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Short‐Duration Extreme Precipitation in Future Climate

PI: Yanping Li, University of Saskatchewan 

Co-I's: Francis Zwiers, PCIC, University of Victoria; Jean-Pierre St Maurice, University of Saskatchewan

Understanding of the physical processes affecting short‐duration (less than 24 hours) extreme precipitation and their possible changes in the warming world is critical for many of GWF’s users. However, most global and regional climate models do not directly simulate the processes that produce extreme precipitation due to their coarse resolutions, which hinders the proper interpretation of the precipitation projections produced by these models. Such questions can be addressed by making extensive use of a convection‐permitting modeling tool running in a pseudo‐global warming mode, and comparing it with existing simulations by global and regional climate models. Here we propose to work specifically on the following four questions: i) Does temperature scaling work at convective‐permitting resolutions for short‐duration local precipitation extremes? ii) How will the characteristics of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) such as the precipitation intensity, size, and life‐span of storms change in the future? iii) What are the underlying physical processes that result in changes in MCSs and storm properties? iv) How do extreme precipitation features scale across resolution from GCMs to RCMs to convective permitting WRF? Our proposed work will lead to a better understanding of the physical soundness of future precipitation projections by climate models, thereby providing a scientific foundation for the proper use of model projections that many GWF’s users depend on.

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Diagnosing Policy and Governance Effectiveness for Agricultural Water Management During Times of Change

PI: Philip Loring, University of Saskatchewan

Co-I's: Helen Baulch; Patricia Gober; John Pomeroy; Graham Strickert, University of Saskatchewan

This project explores the role of policy and social institutions in the effective governance of agricultural drainage during times of rapid change. Drainage generates tens of millions of dollars through agricultural development for landowners, and has been credited with making huge tracts of lands, including much of the prairies, arable. Drainage can be an important climate change adaptation strategy. Yet, drainage can negatively affect drought risk and resilience, water quality, and biodiversity. Likewise, while a landowner may be using drainage to mitigate their own flooding issues, they may be exacerbating flood risk of their downstream neighbors. While drainage is regulated, these regulations are not always enforced, leading to conflicts in many region. Indeed, debate and conflict over drainage has been ongoing in North America for more than a century (Blann et al., 2009).

Although a good deal is known about drainage from a hydrological and climatic perspective, less is known about the human dimensions of the problem, particularly with respect to the formal and informal social institutions that will be needed to manage these complex systems sustainably under climate change. We are interested here in whether polycentric governance, where groups coordinate at a local level with constraints at higher levels of authority, can yield more resilient communities, and help foster collaboration rather than conflict over drainage challenges. In theory, polycentric governance institutions are thought to be essential for achieving outcomes that are both equitable and environmentally sustainable from the perspective of multiple stakeholders (Deitz et al., 2003). To explore this proposition in the context of drainage, we will create social-ecological models of existing drainage governance, based on the variables and schematic set out in the Social-ecological Systems (SES) Framework (Ostrom, 2009; Ostrom and Cox, 2010). These models will link to hydro-climate models, such that social scenarios can be run based on scenarios of climatic and hydrological change to forecast the impacts of possible societal responses. We will also perform a systematic, comparative case-study of drainage governance in three watersheds to gain a better understanding of how people develop institutions to govern water, and how conflict or collaboration emerges in these processes. Comparative case-study research of drainage policies and institutions issues will focus on Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario.

Canada’s provinces have different drainage management approaches and histories, and Saskatchewan has recently developed new requirements for drainage management that require new kinds of approval and stakeholder coordination, including for existing projects. This presents a key opportunity for research during an active period of institutional development and policy formation.

The products of this work will inform policy to manage drainage, reduce flood risk stemming from drainage problems, add new case studies to the field of institutional analysis, bring social scientists into GWF’s modeling efforts, and set the stage for subsequent work on nutrients. The study will identify points of intervention for addressing drainage conflict, and guidance for developing more robust and resilient water management institutions across Canada. Additionally, this work will provide theoretical advances regarding how to effectively manage other contentious, multi-scale water security issues in addition to drainage, such as management of agricultural nutrients.

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Linking Stream Network Process Models to Robust Data Management Systems for the Purpose of Land-Use Decision Support

PI: Bruce MacVicar, University of Waterloo

Co-I's: Simon Courtenay; Stephen Murphy; Paulo Alencar; Don Cowan, University of Waterloo

The proposal is to develop a digital platform to improve the science, communications, and outcomes surrounding decision making in surface water channel networks. We addressed reviewers concerns from the LOI by reducing the scope and budget of the project to match the recommendations, better describing the specific decision making capabilities, clarifying the links between the proposed system and the GWF cloud, and focussing on four case studies where we have extensive experience. The proposed system is called the Stream Adaptive Management Environment or ‘SAME’. Its basic purpose is to combine monitoring and modelling efforts with a data management platform created by the Computer Systems Group at UW that supports environmental decision making (iEnvironment). Such research is aligned with Pillar 2 of the Global Water Futures (GWF) initiative – Developing Big Data and Decision Support Systems. The proposed strategy builds on previous efforts by incorporating two large databases with field monitoring and surface water modelling results; reusing existing monitoring, modelling, user interface, and access control tools; maintaining relations with active partners that include municipalities and conservation authorities across Ontario; extending analysis tools developed as part of an NSERC funded Strategic Project Grant; and leveraging funding for platform development. Secured funding through CANARIE, a non-profit Canadian corporation with a mandate to advance Canada’s knowledge and innovation infrastructure, will support the development of iEnvironment. Three-year funding from the Global Water Futures initiative would be used to develop modules that will allow research groups in river hydraulics and aquatic ecology to connect their work with this system to build an adaptive management platform in SAME. The new work would also ingest a range of data streams and allow users to access the data and analysis in the form of maps, tables and tailored report cards. Specifically supported decisions in the near term would include the evaluation of alternative development scenarios, best management practices, stream restoration, and assessment of risk due to predictive uncertainty and climate change. Case studies include Wilket, Morningside and Ganatsekaigon Creeks in Toronto and Blair Creek in Kitchener. The seven year vision for the project is that other groups connected to the Global Water Futures Initiative will develop modules and build the capacity of the platform to provide a trans-disciplinary decision support system for other questions related to cumulative effects, risk, and the management of surface water networks.

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Winter Soil Processes in Transition

PI: Fereidoun Rezanezhad, University of Waterloo

Co-I's: Philippe Van Cappellen; David Rudolph, Laura Hug; Scott Smith, University of Waterloo

In an uncertain future climate, both the quantity and quality of water supplied by headwater wetland source areas in cold regions are expected to change significantly. However, our knowledge of how climate change will impact the biogeochemical functioning and hydrochemistry of these source areas remains limited. We propose to elucidate the role of winter soil processes on the export of carbon (C) and nutrients (N, P, S, Fe) to the river network under changing climate conditions. The project builds on the hypothesis that spring pulses of dissolved organic and inorganic C and nutrients by these headwaters reflect the cumulative effects of microbial and geochemical processing of redox sensitive elements during the non-growing season. The project will advance the predictive understanding of C and nutrient cycling in soils of headwater source areas under seasonal snow and ice cover. The project specifically aims to improve our conceptual and quantitative understanding of changes in C and nutrient stocks, speciation and fluxes driven by variations in snow cover and freeze-thaw cycles. The data collected in laboratory experiments will be integrated into reactive transport and bioenergetic modeling to simulate the biogeochemical transformations of C and nutrients in winter soils under changing climate conditions. The data and insights gained through the proposed laboratory-controlled experimental and modeling activities will yield a better conceptual understanding of shallow subsurface biogeochemical processes and strengthen their representation in coupled biogeochemical-hydrological catchment models. Overall, the proposed project will enhance our ability to evaluate the impact of different potential climatic scenarios on C and nutrient export and speciation along the aquatic continuum.

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Global Water Citizenship

Integrating Networked Citizens, Scientists and Local Decision Makers

PI: Colin Robertson, Wilfrid Laurier University

Co-I's: Rob Feick, University of Waterloo; Steven Roberts, Wilfrid Laurier University; Michael English, Wilfrid Laurier University

Changes in locally available water quality and quantity have direct impacts on the health and livelihoods of populations throughout Canada and internationally. As warming-induced environmental changes in northern regions transform ecosystems through permafrost thaw, changes in snow cover, vegetation communities, and related ecohydrological processes, the water resources that communities rely on are undergoing transformative shifts. In sparsely populated, climate-sensitive regions like northwestern Canada, there is an urgent need for holistic data-centric approaches that couple knowledge produced by scientific modelling, community-based monitoring, and citizen observations. Building the technical and social infrastructure to support Scientist to Citizen (S2C) and Citizen to Scientist (C2S) information exchange not only fosters involvement of the general public in fundamental scientific research, but also provides a forum for awareness of the threats posed by climate change to northern freshwater ecosystems. These information flows have enormous potential to not only improve scientific understanding of changing freshwater ecosystems, but also to actively engage citizens and decision-makers in evidence-based water resource planning and management.

Global Water Futures (GWF) provides a generational opportunity to create innovative risk management solutions for communities. We propose a project that aims to build the discipline of transformative water science by developing and testing big data analytic tools that support citizens and scientists in two-way knowledge exchanges. It is necessary build the socio-technical capacities that harness S2C and C2S information flows, bridge knowledge gaps, and achieve long-range integration of GWF research into local decision-making. In years 1-3 of the project we will focus our work in the Northwest Territories, with planned expansion nationally and internationally in years 4-7. The impacts of climate change are most pressing in cold regions of the world, and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has identified climate change, innovative and emerging technologies, and an enhanced role for NWT residents as the three core cross-cutting themes in its GNWT Knowledge Agenda: Norther Research for Northern Priorities report (GNWT 2017), highlighting that “Efforts must be made to create clear data collection, management and sharing protocols for the NWT. The GNWT must ensure it has the capacity to maintain these protocols. This will allow for the standardization of the collection, storage and dissemination of observational data.”

Responding to these challenges, the proposed Global Water Citizenship (GWC) project will build on existing citizen networks and will design, test, and build data quality assessment and decision-support tools directly into the GWF platform. The overarching objective of GWC is to develop new approaches for integrating citizen data into environmental change research. Hydrological modelling has historically been poorly engaged with citizens (Buytaert et al. 2014). Big data, mobile apps, and low-cost sensors now afford new opportunities to engage citizens through transdisciplinary approaches. The outcomes of GWC will provide the human and technical capacities that will support the wider adoption of citizen-water science in GWF over the seven-year time frame by fostering deep and broad citizen engagement, developing innovative risk management solutions, while making contributions to the fields of environmental citizen science and geographic information science.

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Sensors and Sensing Systems for Water Quality Monitoring

PI: Ravi Selvaganapathy, McMaster University 

Project Manager: Rana Attalla

Co-I's: Karsten Liber, University of Saskatchewan; Scott Smith, Wilfrid Laurier University; Juewen Liu, University of Waterloo; Wahid Khan, University of Saskatchewan; Chang-qing Xu, McMaster University; Carolyn Ren, University of Waterloo; James McGeer, Wilfrid Laurier University; Jamal Deen, McMaster University; Charles deLannoy, McMaster University; Peter Kruse, McMaster University; Phillippe van Cappellen, University of Waterloo; Dawn Martin-Hill, McMaster University

Many watersheds and water sources both in Canada and across the world are under stress due to human activity as well as climate change. Population growth in urban areas as well as agricultural practices and resource extraction tend to introduce pollutants such as nutrients, metals, microorganisms, pharmaceuticals, industrial waste products and other emerging contaminants into watersheds. These water quality issues are further exacerbated by climate change and other environmental changes in watersheds. There is a critical need to gain a detailed understanding of the effect of human activities on the ecosystem and water in particular. A crucial part of that strategy involves the use of sensors and sensing systems that can be deployed in the environment to monitor for the presence of contaminants and their variation over the short and long time scales. Although sensors and sensing systems for long term monitoring exist for many of the parameters of interests (such as dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, nitrates), they are not sufficiently low in cost and require technical expertise for operation and maintenance. In other cases such as some metals, phosphates and bacteria, continuous monitoring systems have yet to be developed. In this proposal, we will focus on two broad areas. 1) The development of low-cost sensing systems and its implementation for long term monitoring of water quality parameters; and 2) The development of specific low cost sensors that are capable of detecting pathogens, heavy metals, oxidants and nutrients and integrate them with the sensing system. The sensors and sensing systems will be field tested in collaboration with identified potential end users who have expressed interest in partnering with this project as well as partners in other GWF funded projects.

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Linking Multiple Stressors to Adverse Ecological Responses Across Watersheds

PI: Mark Servos, University of Waterloo

Co-I's: Wayne Parker; Paul Craig, University of Waterloo

The project will support improved monitoring and risk assessment programmes through the development of models and tools that can be employed to predict the impacts of contaminants related to changing urban environments and climate on aquatic ecosystems. This work will focus on creating and applying knowledge necessary for predicting and interpreting the impacts of urbanization (e.g. wastewater, storm water, population growth) in the context of variability (natural and anthropogenic) at the watershed scale. This will form the foundation for building frameworks for consideration of multiple stressors that are a major challenge for watershed management, especially in the face of global environmental change.

The integration of contaminant fate modelling (including hydrologic variability) with measured biological outcomes has rarely been done, especially in the context of evaluating multiple stressors and natural variability at the watershed scale. This is partly due to the need to have site specific information as well as the need for an intra-disciplinary approach (e.g. environmental chemistry, biology, engineering, etc.). The proposed project will contribute to this rapidly emerging area of research related to predicting exposure and effects of contaminants in watersheds and supporting the development of approaches for improved environmental assessments and remediation. The project will use a well-developed case study to build on past and current efforts to measure and model contaminants and their impacts in the Grand River watershed (a major focus of GWF), to validate models and then extend them towards other watersheds and conditions nationally. With major wastewater infrastructure investments being made in this watershed to improve water quality it is an ideal opportunity to explore how ecosystems change in response to remedial actions. This prior work has generated a unique data set spanning over more than a decade that has included sampling of effluent, waters (e.g. chemistry) and biological responses in a sentinel fish species (e.g. effects) across the watershed. It has characterized site specific and cumulative exposure and effects in fish across several levels of biological organization (genes to populations) and included numerous reference sites.

An exposure and effects model will be built and tested using this unique data set as the basis to predict spatial and temporal changes. This will contribute to building adverse outcome pathways for contaminants and complex mixtures that are currently not well developed. The current predictive exposure and effects models are currently not well linked or validated with actual field based observations. The proposed project will focus initially on well-documented endpoints (e.g. estrogenicity) but will also extend to new chemicals and biological endpoints (e.g. metabolism, epigenetics) that may become important tools for assessing change in the near future. The long term goal is to provide a robust multi-stressor modelling platform that could be transferable to other watersheds across Canada.

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Crowdsourcing Water Science

PI: Graham Strickert, University of Saskatchewan

Co-I's: Ralph Deters; Simon Lambert, University of Saskatchewan

Create a crowdsourcing data platform to support contributions from GWF user communities’ while also serving users needs in application development. The platforms will allow user communities to share geo-located and time-stamped photographs, which complement traditional forms of data acquisition.

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SPADE

Storms and Precipitation Across the Continental Divide Experiment

PI: Julie Theriault, University of Quebec at Montreal

Co-I's: Stephen Déry, University of Northern British Columbia; Shawn Marshall, University of Calgary; John Pomeroy, University of Saskatchewan; Ronald Stewart, University of Manitoba

This project focuses on cold region processes related to storms and their precipitation at the top of the western Cordillera. The precipitation in this region provides the primary source of water for North American rivers going to the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, can trigger catastrophic flooding and it maintains the perilous existence of glaciers. Despite its essential role, very few observations that link surface features, precipitation and atmospheric conditions are available in this region. This project will start to address this gap by using a combination of sophisticated weather instruments, instrumented mountain basins and modelling tools to study storms and precipitation across the continental divide. One of the key issues is how much of the moisture flux crosses the barrier from either the Pacific in eastward moving storms or from the Prairies and Gulf of Mexico in leeside (upslope) storms. In particular, small-scale features of this moisture transport such as the distribution of snowfall, from for example, preferential deposition, will be addressed. To do so, both sides of the divide will be instrumented to measure precipitation fields aloft to study their evolution as they fall through the atmosphere on either side of the divide. The study region includes well-documented glacier sites as well as mountain headwater basins that were sources of the 2013 floodwaters in Alberta and British Columbia. This fills in the gaps of efforts to characterize the precipitation at the surface and snowline, in drought periods and will help determine their impacts on hydrology as part of GWF. Although our team is involved in GWF Pillar 3 projects (JT/RS: 2 projects, SD: 1 project and JP: 6 projects), none is obtaining any special atmospheric measurements or examining small-scale features of orographic precipitation. A critical outcome will be to deliver a system to diagnose and predict precipitation amounts, patterns and types across the divide using a combination of very high-resolution modelling and sophisticated instrumentation. This will inform improvements in numerical weather prediction systems such as Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model.

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SAMMS

Sub-Arctic Metal Mobility Study

PI: Brent Wolfe, Wilfrid Laurier University

Co-I's: Jason J. Venkiteswaran, Wilfrid Laurier University; Michael English, Wilfrid Laurier University; Sherry Schiff, University of Waterloo; Roland Hall, University of Waterloo; Scott Smith, Wilfrid Laurier University; James McGeer, Wilfrid Laurier University; Colin Whitfield, University of Saskatchewan; Kevin Stevens, Wilfrid Laurier University; Jules M. Blais, University of Waterloo

Abandoned mines abound in the NWT with dates of operation varying from 1930s to 2000s and lifespans of <1 to 50 years. Most are located in the boreal forest on the Canadian Shield in the zone of discontinuous permafrost. The legacy of metal pollution from mining extends beyond the immediate mining sites and across the NWT via emissions to the atmosphere and subsequent deposition. However, its extent is poorly known. The fate and toxicity of these metals from mining activities depends strongly on their transport via dissolved organic matter (DOM). DOM is a complex array of molecules that play an influential role in dictating surface water quality. It is predicted that climate warming, especially in subarctic regions where substantial organic matter has accumulated over time, will accelerate both rates of organic matter decomposition and consequently the mass and chemistry of DOM entering freshwater systems during the next few decades. These changes have important implications for surface water quality with respect to long-term ecosystem health and human consumption of drinking water. Metals at levels comparable to guidelines for aquatic ecosystem health and drinking water consumption can result from enhanced metal mobility due to mining activities. Critically important to metal mobility is the production of elevated and potentially chemically altered DOM with wetlands, soils, streams, and lakes that have been a repository for elevated metal concentrations via atmospheric or direct deposition. Increased mobility of metals from anthropogenic sources, as well as those that are naturally occurring, in catchments and lakes in NWT as a consequence of ongoing climate warming has the potential to significantly expand the anthropogenic impacts of mining.

To address the pressing need to examine legacy metal pollution from mining with changes in DOM and hydrology due to climate change in the NWT, the Sub-Arctic Metal Mobility Study (SAMMS) will undertake six work plans, four of which will be completed in the first three-year phase. These have been designed to comprehensively trace the transport and behaviour of DOM and metals through terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in headwater catchments along a 200 km airshed transect between Giant Mine and Whati, an area of concentrated mining activity. Work plan include: 1) terrestrial stores of historical metal deposition and transport to aquatic ecosystems, 2) DOM quantity and quality, metal binding, and toxicology, 3) modelling of DOM quantity and quality in cold regions, 4) metal depositional history, pathways, and processes in lake sediments, 5) paleo-ecotoxicology and ecosystem structure, and 6) climate change effects including permafrost thaw. Findings will inform improved decision-making by multiple stakeholders in the NWT, including Indigenous peoples, about the both legacy of mining activities and implications of new mining developments on water quality in a changing environment. 

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Adaptation Governance and Policy Changes in Relation to a Changing Moisture Regime Across the Southern Boreal Forest

PI: Colin Laroque, University of Saskatchewan

We will conduct a Vulnerability Assessment, including both current and future risks, of Mistik’s management forest area using the existing Climate Change and Sustainable Forest Management in Canada: A Guidebook for Assessing Vulnerability and Mainstreaming Adaptation into Decision Making guidebook. It will include both the biophysical and management aspects of their practices as related to climate change. We will also assess Mistik’s response to past and present climate related impacts, i.e., an analysis of their Adaptive Capacity. This is a new aspect of climate change related adaptation strategies, and will be the first of its kind in Canada. Based on the Vulnerability Assessment and the analysis of the company’s Adaptive Capacity, we will work with Misitk on incorporating these results into their new 20-year forest management plan. To provide the company with bio-physical background, a tree-ring collection and analysis of suitable tree species (determined by Mistik) will be conducted to define past growth-climate related relationships from trees growing on their land base. Tree rings represent a unique source of historical annual data that have been used to identify changes in growth as a result of past climate. These data can also be used to provide trajectories on how trees will grow under future climates. We will then use these relationships to project future growth based on various GCM or CORE modeling-team derived climate scenarios for the future of Mistik’s FMA. Once we better understand how climatic changes are affecting the forest in their FMA, we will formulate the outcomes of our case study in the context of Saskatchewan’s provincial “Results-Based Regulatory approach” for the company. Non-climate factors such as First Nations concerns, economics, forest-dependent communities in the region, as well as ecological variations within their FMA will also be examined as to how they affect the current adaptive capacity of Mistik Management.

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Significance of Groundwater Dynamics Within Hydrologic Models

PI: Walter Illman, University of Waterloo

Research will be conducted to study the significance of spatial and temporal groundwater dynamics on watershed hydrology through high-resolution simulations with a fully-integrated hydrologic model. Because of the availability of high-quality data, datasets from the well-instrumented Alder Creek Watershed (ACW) (~79 km2) within the Grand River Basin in Ontario will be utilized to parameterize, calibrate, and validate the model.

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Diagnosing and Mitigating Hydrologic Model Uncertainty in High-Latitude Canadian Watersheds

PI: Tricia Stadnyk, University of Manitoba

It has been the recommendation of several International collaborative research projects that stable water isotope (SWI) data could be leveraged to “develop a methodology and monitoring network … to understand hydrological processes in large river basins” (IAEA, 2003). SWIs (δ18O, δ2H) have proven to be useful diagnostic variables for hydrological modelling, with some uncertainty as to the degree of usefulness for parameter constraint. There is a need to quantify the effectiveness of isotope data from large scale monitoring networks, applied in conjunction with observed streamflow, at enhancing hydrologic model calibration and optimization. The benefit, should such soft data methods prove successful, would be enhanced knowledge of model parameter uncertainty, and more realistic parameterization of hydrologic models. Such methods could prove especially value in the cold, vast and complex pan-Canadian watersheds.

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Hydrological Processes in Frozen Soils

PI: Andrew Ireson, University of Saskatchewan

Soil freeze-thaw processes play a critical role in the surface energy and water balance in cold regions. Partitioning of snowmelt into runoff and infiltration is arguably the single most important control on flood risk and water for crops in the Canadian prairies. Understanding of the physical processes involved is fraught with challenges and there remain major gaps. Perhaps the most basic property is the soil freezing characteristic curve, SFC: a relationship between unfrozen water content and soil temperature (below zero degrees Celsius), analogous to the soil moisture characteristic for unfrozen conditions. This represents the phenomenon of freezing-point depression in soils, and controls the hydraulic properties. However, there is no consensus on why this actually happens. Moreover, there is no simple in-situ method to measure this phenomenon directly in the field – the problem being our inability to interpret most soil moisture instrumentation in frozen conditions. From a hydrological perspective, this understanding is critical to being able to predict the fate of snowmelt, and the overall water balance of a watershed or field.

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Improved Estimates of Wetland Evaporation

PI: Warren Helgason, University of Saskatchewan

The issue of dynamic water storage in prairie wetlands has received considerable attention in recent years. Accordingly, we have learned a great deal about wetland storage, hydraulic connectivity between adjacent wetlands, and the contribution of wetlands to streamflow and groundwater systems. However, there has been scant attention paid to the factors that influence the rates of evaporation from wetlands, or evapotranspiration from wetland-dominated landscapes. Frequently, evaporation estimates are based on simple Priestly-Taylor or Penman-Monteith approaches, using parameters that can’t possibly reflect the dynamic nature of prairie wetlands. In this work, I am proposing a PhD project to examine the factors influencing wetland evaporation in prairie agricultural landscapes, for the purpose of developing more robust techniques for estimating the rate of wetland evaporation.

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