Evaluation of the impact of land use on watershed hydrology and flood flows
Public safety officials, hydrological system managers and hydroclimatology researchers will be able to better assess the impacts of climate change on water resources based on changes in vegetation cover.
As part of the INFO-Crue project, needs have been identified in terms of developing a better understanding of the impacts of land use changes on watershed hydrology in order to better comprehend how land use planning can influence the frequency and intensity of floods. This project was initiated in that context, and it also contributes to fostering scientific collaboration between Quebec and Bavaria through the complementarity of research objectives.
Considering the needs identified in Quebec, the synergistic opportunities with Bavaria and the state of knowledge in the field, this project will aim to:
Evaluate the hydrological modelling tools generally used in Quebec in the study of climate change in terms of their ability to simulate the hydrological effect of land use changes at relevant scales
Assess the impact of different land use changes (forestry, agriculture, urban areas, wetlands, etc.) on the magnitude of floods for watersheds of various sizes
As a first step, the hydrological modelling tools generally used in Quebec and Bavaria will be evaluated in terms of their ability to properly simulate the hydrological effect of land use changes. Three modelling approaches will be tested and compared using paired watersheds with contrasting land uses. The modelling approaches are the following: distributed and physically based, broad-based and conceptual, and a “hybrid” approach combining broad-based models with river routing using Raven.
Next, the impact of different land cover changes on flood magnitude for watersheds of various sizes will be evaluated, in particular by:
Carrying out hydrological modelling of a variety of Quebec watersheds for various land use scenarios
Evaluating the potential contribution of land use change to historic floods in Quebec
Exploring the use of climate and hydrological models with consistent land use and climate scenarios
This work will make it possible to issue recommendations on:
The spatial scale at which changes in land use influence hydrology
The ability of different hydrological models to adequately represent the hydrological effect of changes in land use, particularly on floods
Benefits for adaptation
Retombées pour l'adaptation
The results of the project will be of benefit to the community of public safety officials, hydrological system managers and hydroclimatology researchers.
A better understanding of the impact of land use changes on Quebec's hydroclimate will make it possible to better assess the impacts of climate change on water resources based on changes in vegetation cover, in particular.