LOW WATER LEVELS: Changing hydrological droughts in southern Quebec in the face of climate change

This project aims to get an overall view of hydrological drought episodes in southern Quebec in the context climate change by better identifying the meteorological conditions leading to such events and analyzing their prevalence in future climates. The project could pave the way for a hydrological forecast adapted to low water levels.

Project details
Scientific program
2020-2025 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Extreme Events - Water Availability
Start and duration
April 2023 • 24 months
Project Status
In progress
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Marc-André Bourgault
Université Laval
Audrey Maheu
Université du Québec en Outaouais


In the context of climate change and growing anthropogenic pressures on resources, southern Quebec could experience increased and more marked risks of hydrological drought than in the past. A hydrological drought refers to surface water or groundwater levels dropping well below the long-term average.

These droughts will modify the availability of water for drinking water supply, for ecosystems and for several sectors of socio-economic activity. Understanding the meteorological determinants of hydrological droughts and examining the prevalence of such conditions in the future appears to be a priority for maintaining the security of the water supply sources of several regions of Quebec, in addition to promoting our society’s adaptation to the consequences of climate change.



  • To generate an overall view of episodes of hydrological drought (surface water and groundwater) in southern Quebec in the context of a changing climate


  • Identify past hydrological drought events in southern Quebec using standardized indices of flow and groundwater level and characterize each event in terms of duration, severity and occurrence.

  • Identify the meteorological determinants (e.g. deficit of liquid and solid precipitation, increased evapotranspiration) of hydrological drought events by linking past drought events with standardized meteorological indices compiled at different time intervals (1, 3, 6 and 12 months). 

  • Characterize the prevalence of meteorological events that can lead to hydrological drought events in a future climate for two socio-economic trajectories (SSP2-4.5 and SSP3-7.0).  

Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

The results that will be generated should make it possible to better understand the hazards associated with droughts and to identify the regions most likely to experience severe droughts in southern Quebec in the future. This will enable water management stakeholders to identify and prioritize their actions in order to promote adaptation to climatic hazards and the mitigation of their effects in the future.

In the medium term, identifying the determinants of hydrological droughts will also facilitate hydrological forecasting for low water levels,  in particular, which will allow for the informed management of water resources and the implementation of preventive interventions where necessary.


Other participants

  • CentrEau

  • UQAM

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