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    The Virtual Water Gallery: Changing Attitudes through Art
    (European Geosciences Union, 2023) Arnal, Louise; Clark, Martyn P.; Dumanski, Stacey
    Water is life. Water-related challenges, such as droughts, floods, wildfires, water quality degradation, permafrost thaw and glacier melt, exacerbated by climate change, affect everyone. Yet, it is challenging to communicate science on difficult, highly volatile topics such as water and climate change. Conceptualizing water-related environmental and social issues in novel ways, with engagement between diverse audiences may lead to comprehensive solutions to these complex challenges. Art can be a catalyst in the co-creation of new knowledge for the benefit of society. The Virtual Water Gallery (VWG) is a transdisciplinary science and art project of the Global Water Futures (GWF) program. Launched in 2020, the VWG aims to provide a collaborative space for dialogues between water experts, artists, and the wider public, to explore water challenges. As part of this project, 13 artists representing women’s, men’s and Indigenous voices across Canada were paired with teams of GWF scientists to co-explore specific water challenges in various Canadian ecoregions and communities. These collaborations led to the co-creation of artworks exhibited online on the VWG ( in 2021. The VWG recently came to life in 2022 with an in-person exhibition in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Surveys were developed to capture changes in perspectives regarding climate change and water challenges through this art-science exhibit. Participants of the VWG (artists and scientists), visitors to the online gallery, and visitors to the in-person exhibition in Canmore were all invited to take part in those surveys. The preliminary results from the surveys suggest that participants experienced changes in behaviour regarding water-related climate change mitigation, and that the degree of change depends on factors such as age, income and lived experience (i.e., floods and droughts). The results help elucidate how art viewers engage with art based on science and how science messages can be more effectively communicated through art.
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    Translating hydrology research into practice: A Canadian Perspective
    (European Geosciences Union, 2023) Pietroniro, Alain; Rokaya, Prabin; Schuster-Wallace, Corinne; Pomeroy, John
    Hydrology research is regarded as vital for advancing human development and environmental conservation through improved hydrological process understanding and by devising solutions to address water management challenges. This is particularly acute in a time of global change and the need to find pathways to water sustainability. Success for research in hydrology is often measured through quantitative research outputs, such as the number of journal publications, citation indices, number of students trained, patents, and external research funding. User involvement in the research and development process is rarely considered a metric for success in hydrology. Despite successful scientific or engineering advancements, a greater scientific understanding of hydrology and ever-increasing publications, much of the research has limited uptake by practitioners and implementation into practice, leading to a growing gap between research and practice. This lack of utilisation is not due to a lack of need by users, but rather is a symptom of the disconnect between these advances and research that would most add value to practitioners and their application needs. We explore some outstanding challenges in translating academic research into practice and make some recommendations to bridge the increasing gaps between research and practice through a transdisciplinary approach, user engagement metrics in funded research and strong knowledge mobilization. We also discuss the success and challenges of these approaches in the Global Water Futures program along with lessons learned.
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    Advances in mapping sub-canopy snow depth with unmanned aerial vehicles using structure from motion and lidar techniques
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2019) Harder, Phillip; Pomeroy, John; Helgason, Warren D.
    Vegetation has a tremendous influence on snow processes and snowpack dynamics yet remote sensing techniques to resolve the spatial variability of sub-canopy snow depth are lacking. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have had recent widespread application to capture high resolution information on snow processes and are herein applied to the sub-canopy snow depth challenge. Previous demonstrations of snow depth mapping with UAV Structure from Motion (SfM) and airborne lidar have focussed on non-vegetated surfaces or reported large errors in the presence of vegetation. In contrast, UAV-lidar systems have high-density point clouds, measure returns from a wide range of scan angles, and so have a greater likelihood of successfully sensing the sub-canopy snow depth. The effectiveness of UAV-lidar and UAV-SfM in mapping snow depth in both open and forested terrain was tested in a 2019 field campaign in the Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory, Alberta and at Canadian Prairie sites near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Only UAV-lidar could successfully measure the sub-canopy snow surface with reliable sub-canopy point coverage, and consistent error metrics (RMSE <0.17m and bias -0.03m to -0.13m). Relative to UAV-lidar, UAV-SfM did not consistently sense the sub-canopy snow surface, the interpolation needed to account for point cloud gaps introduced interpolation artefacts, and error metrics demonstrate relatively large variability (RMSE <0.33m and bias 0.08 m to -0.14m). With the demonstration of sub-canopy snow depth mapping capabilities a number of early applications are presented to showcase the ability of UAV-lidar to effectively quantify the many multiscale snow processes defining snowpack dynamics in mountain and prairie environments.
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    Hybrid forecasting: blending climate predictions with AI models
    (Copernicus Publications [Commercial Publisher], European Geosciences Union [Society Publisher], 2023) Slater, Louise; Arnal, Louise; Boucher, Marie-Amélie; Chang, Annie Y.-Y.; Moulds, Simon; Murphy, Conor; Nearing, Grey; Shalev, Guy; Shen, Chaopeng; Speight, Linda; Villarini, Gabriele; Wilby, Robert L.; Wood, Andrew; Zappa, Massimiliano
    Hybrid hydroclimatic forecasting systems employ data-driven (statistical or machine learning) methods to harness and integrate a broad variety of predictions from dynamical, physics-based models – such as numerical weather prediction, climate, land, hydrology, and Earth system models – into a final prediction product. They are recognized as a promising way of enhancing the prediction skill of meteorological and hydroclimatic variables and events, including rainfall, temperature, streamflow, floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, or atmospheric rivers. Hybrid forecasting methods are now receiving growing attention due to advances in weather and climate prediction systems at subseasonal to decadal scales, a better appreciation of the strengths of AI, and expanding access to computational resources and methods. Such systems are attractive because they may avoid the need to run a computationally expensive offline land model, can minimize the effect of biases that exist within dynamical outputs, benefit from the strengths of machine learning, and can learn from large datasets, while combining different sources of predictability with varying time horizons. Here we review recent developments in hybrid hydroclimatic forecasting and outline key challenges and opportunities for further research. These include obtaining physically explainable results, assimilating human influences from novel data sources, integrating new ensemble techniques to improve predictive skill, creating seamless prediction schemes that merge short to long lead times, incorporating initial land surface and ocean/ice conditions, acknowledging spatial variability in landscape and atmospheric forcing, and increasing the operational uptake of hybrid prediction schemes.
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    The Impact of Meteorological Forcing Uncertainty on Hydrological Modeling: A Global Analysis of Cryosphere Basins
    (Wiley [Commercial Publisher], American Geophysical Union [Client Organisation], 2023) Tang, Guoqiang; Clark, Martyn; Knoben, Wouter; Liu, Hongli; Gharari, Shervan; Arnal, Louise; Beck, Hylke; Wood, Andrew W.; Newman, Andrew J.; Papalexiou, Simon Michael
    Meteorological forcing is a major source of uncertainty in hydrological modeling. The recent development of probabilistic large-domain meteorological data sets enables convenient uncertainty characterization, which however is rarely explored in large-domain research. This study analyzes how uncertainties in meteorological forcing data affect hydrological modeling in 289 representative cryosphere basins by forcing the Structure for Unifying Multiple Modeling Alternatives (SUMMA) and mizuRoute models with precipitation and air temperature ensembles from the Ensemble Meteorological Data set for Planet Earth (EM-Earth). EM-Earth probabilistic estimates are used in ensemble simulation for uncertainty analysis. The results reveal the magnitude, spatial distribution, and scale effect of uncertainties in meteorological, snow, runoff, soil water, and energy variables. There are three main findings. (a) The uncertainties in precipitation and temperature lead to substantial uncertainties in hydrological model outputs, some of which exceed 100% of the magnitude of the output variables themselves. (b) The uncertainties of different variables show distinct scale effects caused by spatial averaging or temporal averaging. (c) Precipitation uncertainties have the dominant impact for most basins and variables, while air temperature uncertainties are also nonnegligible, sometimes contributing more to modeling uncertainties than precipitation uncertainties. We find that three snow-related variables (snow water equivalent, snowfall amount, and snowfall fraction) can be used to estimate the impact of air temperature uncertainties for different model output variables. In summary, this study provides insight into the impact of probabilistic data sets on hydrological modeling and quantifies the uncertainties in cryosphere basin modeling that stem from the meteorological forcing data.
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    Harvesting Local Energy: A Case Study of Community-Led Bioenergy Development in Galena, Alaska
    (MDPI, 2022) Menghwani, Vikas; Walker, Chad; Kalke, Tim; Noble, Bram; Poelzer, Greg
    Community-led bioenergy projects show great promise to address a range of issues for remote and Indigenous Arctic communities that typically rely on diesel for meeting their energy demands. However, there is very little research devoted to better understanding what makes individual projects successful. In this study, we analyze the case of the Galena Bioenergy Project (Alaska)—a biomass heating project that uses locally sourced woody biomass to help meet the heating demands of a large educational campus. Using project documents and other publicly available reports, we evaluate the project’s success using three indicators: operational, environmental, and community level socio-economic benefits. We find that the project shows signs of success in all three respects. It has a reliable fuel supply chain for operations, makes contributions towards greenhouse gas reductions by replacing diesel and has improved energy and economic security for the community. We also examine enabling factors behind the project’s success and identify the following factors as crucial: community-level input and support, state level financial support, access to forest biomass with no competing use, predictable demand and committed leadership. Our findings have important implications for other remote communities across the Boreal zone—especially those with nearby forest resources. Our examination of this case study ultimately highlights potential pathways for long-term success and, more specifically, shows how biomass resources might be best utilized through community-led initiatives to sustainably support energy security in Arctic communities.
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    Xeriscape for Urban Water Security: A Preliminary Study from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    (JSTOR, 2011) Smith, Brittany; Patrick, Robert J.
    Xeriscape is a contemporary landscape maintenance term coined from the Greek xeros, meaning dry, and scape, from the Anglo-Saxon term schap, meaning view. The practice of xeriscape encompasses many landscape styles and materials to produce everything from lush gardens to desert-like landscapes. The purpose of xeriscape is to achieve low garden maintenance measured by less watering, less fertilizer and pesticides, less weeding and less mowing. The defining feature of xeriscape is how water is used with the goal of water efficiency through practices such as mulching, appropriate plant selection and landscape design. As urban regions in Canada look to enhance future water security what opportunities might there be in landscape conversions from mono-culture grass lawns to xeriscape? Using case study research in a Canadian prairie-region city, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this research explores household motivation for xeriscape gardening. Through identification of household motivation for xeriscape, urban policy makers will be better able to design programs and incentives aimed at enhancing water security. The results of this research show that households with xeriscape landscaping were motivated mainly by factors related to landscape aesthetic and physical activity rather than water conservation.
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    Lessons Learned Through Community-Engaged Planning
    (Scholarship@Western, 2017) Patrick, Robert J.; Machial, Laura; Quinney, Kendra; Quinney, Len
    This article explores the potential for community-engaged planning to empower Indigenous communities to take ownership of planning and plan-making. We do this through a source water protection planning process with a First Nation community in Alberta, Canada. Access to safe drinking water for many First Nation communities in Canada remains problematic. Source water protection planning seeks to better integrate land and water management to prevent contamination of the drinking water supply. We employ a community-based planning initiative to develop a source water protection plan. While the planning initiative developed a successful drinking water protection plan it also served to built trust between the participants, respected traditional and Western values, as well as empowered the community. Lessons learned from this initiative are shared.
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    Adapting to Climate Change Through Source Water Protection: Case Studies from Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada
    (Scholarship@Western, 2018) Patrick, Robert J.
    The protection of drinking water sources continues to gain momentum in First Nation communities on the Canadian Prairie. Through the identification of potential threats to drinking water sources communities are taking action to mitigate those threats. This article explores the extent to which climate change has been taken into consideration in recent source water protection planning community exercises. In addition, this article describes how source water protection planning has potential to enhance community adaptation strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change on source water and drinking water systems. Results are based on six case studies from Alberta and Saskatchewan.
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    Reclaiming Indigenous Planning as a Pathway to Local Water Security
    (MDPI, 2019) Patrick, Robert J.; Grant, Kellie; Bharadwaj, Lalita
    Access to drinkable water is essential to human life. The consequence of unsafe drinking water can be damaging to communities and catastrophic to human health. Today, one in five First Nation communities in Canada is on a boil water advisory, with some advisories lasting over 10 years. Factors contributing to this problem stretch back to colonial structures and institutional arrangement that reproduce woefully inadequate community drinking water systems. Notwithstanding these challenges, First Nation communities remain diligent, adaptive, and innovative in their e orts to provide drinkable water to their community members. One example is through the practice of source water protection planning. Source water is untreated water from groundwater or surface water that supplies drinking water for human consumption. Source water protection is operationalized through land and water planning activities aimed at reducing the risk of contamination from entering a public drinking water supply. Here, we introduce a source water protection planning process at Muskowekwan First Nation, Treaty 4, Saskatchewan. The planning process followed a community-based participatory approach guided by trust, respect, and reciprocity between community members and university researchers. Community members identified threats to the drinking water source followed by restorative land management actions to reduce those threats. The result of this process produced much more than a planning document but engaged multiple community members in a process of empowerment and self-determination. The process of plan-making produced many unintended results including human–land connectivity, reconnection with the water spirit, as well as the reclaiming of indigenous planning. Source water protection planning may not correct all the current water system inadequacies that exist on many First Nations, but it will empower communities to take action to protect their drinking water sources for future generations as a pathway to local water security.
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    “We Don’t Drink the Water Here”: The Reproduction of Undrinkable Water for First Nations in Canada
    (MDPI, 2019) Baijius, Warrick; Patrick, Robert J.
    First Nation communities in Canada are disproportionately plagued by undrinkable water and insufficient household sanitation. In addition, water resource management in First Nation communities has long been a technocratic and scientific mission controlled by state-led authorities. There has been limited engagement of First Nations in decision-making around water management and water governance. As such, problems associated with access to drinkable water and household sanitation are commonly positioned as hydrological or environmental problems (flood or drought) to be fixed by technical and engineering solutions. This apolitical reading has been criticized for not addressing the root cause of the First Nation water problem, but instead, of reproducing it. In this paper, an approach using political ecology will tease out key factors contributing to the current water problem in many First Nation communities. Using case study research set in source water protection planning, this paper explains how persistent colonial practices of the state continue to reproduce undrinkable water and insufficient household sanitation. Solutions to this ‘water problem’ require greater attention to First Nations water governance capacity and structures.
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    Planning Around Reserves: Probing the Inclusion of First Nations in Saskatchewan's Watershed Planning Framework
    (Scholarship@Western, 2019) Baijius, Warrick; Patrick, Robert J.
    Watershed-based planning in Saskatchewan began in earnest after 2006 under the auspices of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. Within a decade, a dozen watershed plans were produced following a planning framework that included technical and watershed resident committees. First Nation communities, or "reserves," exist within these watershed areas. This article probes the inclusion of First Nations in those plans. Using document analysis and keyword search, our analysis explores any spatial relationship that may exist between First Nation inclusion and the amount of reserve land in a watershed. The results of this research show that First Nation inclusion is limited in watershed planning in Saskatchewan. We see opportunity for more effective watershed planning through greater collaboration with First Nations.
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    Indigenous Perspectives on Water Security in Saskatchewan, Canada
    (MDPI, 2020) Awume, Obadiah; Patrick, Robert J.; Baijius, Warrick
    The term “water security” continues to gain traction in water resources literature with broad application to human health, water quality, and sustainability of water supply. These western science applications focus almost exclusively on the material value of water for human uses and activities. This paper offers voice to other interpretations of water security based on semi-structured interviews with Indigenous participants representing varied backgrounds and communities from Saskatchewan, a Canadian prairie province. The results indicate that water security from an Indigenous perspective embraces much more than the material value of water. Five themes emerged from this research that speak to a more holistic framing of water security to include water as a life form, water and the spirit world, women as water-keepers, water and human ethics, and water in Indigenous culture. This broader interpretation provides a more nuanced understanding of water security, which serves to enrich the water security narrative while educating western science.
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    A Parallel Approach to Water Stewardship Planning: Making Space for Traditional Knowledge and Western-Science
    (Canadian Institute of Planners and the Association of Canadian University Planning Programs, 2021) Patrick, Robert J.; Baijius, Warrick
    The professional practice of planning and the state-controlled mechanisms under which western-science planning operate offer little to improve the lives of Indigenous people and their communities. Arguably, western-science planning along with its many legal tools, collectively reproduce existing colonial relations in the interest of state domination over, and suppression of, Indigenous people. In this paper, we describe a different planning model, one that Viswanathan (2019) refers to as “parallel planning”, wherein Indigenous planning principles are practiced in parallel to western-science planning, with each approach informing, and complementing, the other. Our case example is from the Saskatchewan River Delta wherein Indigenous values nested in traditional knowledge in the land and water are the centrepiece of a planning process supported by the western-science planning framework. Challenges facing this approach will be discussed alongside suggestions on how these challenges may be overcome.
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    Ultrahigh-resolution mapping of peatland microform using ground-based structure from motion with multiview stereo
    (American Geophysical Union (AGU) [Client Organization]; Wiley [Commercial Publisher], 2016) Mercer, Jason; Westbrook, Cherie
    Microform is important in understanding wetland functions and processes. But collecting imagery of and mapping the physical structure of peatlands is often expensive and requires specialized equipment. We assessed the utility of coupling computer vision-based structure from motion with multiview stereo photogrammetry (SfM-MVS) and ground-based photos to map peatland topography. The SfM-MVS technique was tested on an alpine peatland in Banff National Park, Canada, and guidance was provided on minimizing errors. We found that coupling SfM-MVS with ground-based photos taken with a point and shoot camera is a viable and competitive technique for generating ultrahigh-resolution elevations (i.e., <0.01 m, mean absolute error of 0.083 m). In evaluating 100+ viable SfM-MVS data collection and processing scenarios, vegetation was found to considerably influence accuracy. Vegetation class, when accounted for, reduced absolute error by as much as 50%. The logistic flexibility of ground-based SfM-MVS paired with its high resolution, low error, and low cost makes it a research area worth developing as well as a useful addition to the wetland scientists’ toolkit.
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    Beaver dam capacity of Canada’s boreal plain in response to environmental change
    (Springer Nature, 2020) Stoll, Nichole-Lynn; Westbrook, Cherie
    Environmental changes are altering the water cycle of Canada’s boreal plain. Beaver dams are well known for increasing water storage and slowing flow through stream networks. For these reasons beavers are increasingly being included in climate change adaptation strategies. But, little work focuses on how environmental changes will affect dam building capacity along stream networks. Here we estimate the capacity of the stream network in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada to support beaver dams under changing environmental conditions using a modelling approach. We show that at capacity, the park’s stream network can support 24,690 beaver dams and hold between 8.2 and 12.8 million m3 of water in beaver ponds. Between 1991 and 2016 the park’s vegetation composition shifted to less preferred beaver forage, which led to a 13% decrease in maximum dam capacity. We also found that dam capacity is sensitive to the size of regularly-occurring floods— doubling the 2-year flood reduces the park’s dam capacity by 21%. The results show that the potential for beaver to offset some expected climatic-induced changes to the boreal water cycle is more complex than previously thought, as there is a feedback wherein dam capacity can be reduced by changing environmental conditions.
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    Thermal Characteristics of a Beaver Dam Analogues Equipped Spring-Fed Creek in the Canadian Rockies
    (MDPI, 2021) MUNIR, TARIQ; Westbrook, Cherie
    Beaver dam analogues (BDAs) are becoming an increasingly popular stream restoration technique. One ecological function BDAs might help restore is suitable habitat conditions for fish in streams where loss of beaver dams and channel incision has led to their decline. A critical physical characteristic for fish is stream temperature. We examined the thermal regime of a spring-fed Canadian Rocky Mountain stream in relation to different numbers of BDAs installed in series over three study periods (April–October; 2017–2019). While all BDA configurations significantly influenced stream and pond temperatures, single- and double-configuration BDAs incrementally increased stream temperatures. Single and double configuration BDAs warmed the downstream waters of mean maxima of 9.9, 9.3 °C by respective mean maxima of 0.9 and 1.0 °C. Higher pond and stream temperatures occurred when ponding and discharge decreased, and vice versa. In 2019, variation in stream temperature below double-configuration BDAs was lower than the single-configuration BDA. The triple-configuration BDA, in contrast, cooled the stream, although the mean maximum stream temperature was the highest below these structures. Ponding upstream of BDAs increased discharge and resulted in cooling of the stream. Rainfall events sharply and transiently reduced stream temperatures, leading to a three-way interaction between BDA configuration, rainfall and stream discharge as factors co-influencing the stream temperature regime. Our results have implications for optimal growth of regionally important and threatened bull and cutthroat trout fish species.
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    Relative Effectiveness of Four Different Guards In Preventing Beaver Cutting of Urban Trees
    (Oxford Academic, 2022) Westbrook, Cherie; England, Kirby
    Beavers are expanding into cities as they recolonize their historic range. While they increase the ecological functioning of urban green areas, human-beaver conflicts occur. Public support to deal with conflicts has shifted from population to forage control. Tree guards are becoming popular with management personnel in North America and Europe to reduce damage to valuable trees. The problem is that this management technique has not been studied. We inventoried the tree guard types in use in natural and manicured river parks in the City of Saskatoon, Canada, determined their adherence to an installation protocol by measuring guard dimensions, and assessed the relative effectiveness of guards in protecting trees from beaver cutting. The inventory revealed that four types of tree guards are in use, ranging from light gauge chicken wire to heavy gauge chain link fencing. Overall, 11% of the trees with guards that we inventoried were cut by beavers, but variation among guard types was observed. Less than 10% of trees with type i and ii guards were beaver cut whereas 17% of trees with types iii and iv guards were beaver cut. Fewer trees were cut when there was adherence to installation protocol, regardless of guard type. Cut trees with guard types i, iii and iv experienced both minor and major damage whereas cut trees with guard type ii experienced only minor damage. The study results have implications for developing effectiveness and implementation monitoring plans for tree guards as part of an overall beaver management plan.