The Changing Cold Regions Network: Improving the Understanding and Prediction of Changing Land, Water, and Climate in the Mackenzie and Saskatchewan River Basins, Canada

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Chris Michael DeBeer, Howard S Wheater, Kwok Pan Chun, Kevin Shook and Paul Whitfield, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Within the cold interior of western and northern Canada, rapid and widespread environmental changes are taking place, which are of serious concern for society and have a range of implications from local to regional and global scales. From a scientific standpoint there is an urgent need to understand the changes and develop improved diagnostic and predictive modelling tools to deal with the uncertainty faced in the future. The Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN) is a research consortium of over 50 Canadian university and government scientists and international researchers aimed at addressing these issues within the geographic domain of the Mackenzie and Saskatchewan River Basins. CCRN’s primary focus is to integrate existing and new experimental data with modelling and remote sensing products to understand, diagnose and predict changing land, water and climate, and their interactions and feedbacks. To support these activities, the network utilizes a suite of 14 world-class water, ecosystem, cryosphere and climate (WECC) observatories across this region that provide exceptional opportunities to observe change, investigate processes and their dynamics, and develop and test environmental models. This talk will briefly describe the CCRN thematic components and WECC observatories, and will then describe some of the observed environmental changes and their linkages across the northern and mountainous parts of the network study domain. In particular, this will include changes in permafrost, terrestrial vegetation, snowcover, glaciers, and river discharge in relation to observed climatic changes across the region. The observations draw on a wide range of literature sources and statistical analyses of federal and provincial regional monitoring network data, while more detailed observations at some of the WECC observatories help to show how these regional changes are manifested at local scales and vice versa. A coordinated special observation and analysis period across all WECC observatories is planned for 2014–15, and this will also be briefly described.