Multicentury Reconstruction of Streamflow for the Abitibi River Basin and Estimation of Future Climate Changes
This project will provide hydropower producers with the robust scientific analyses to guide decision making in regards to climate change adaptations. The results will help determine whether the significance of recently observed floods is part of natural variability or if it is attributable to climate change, in which case, it may be relevant to adjust design criteria and management strategies accordingly.
Knowledge regarding how climate drivers affect the hydrological system is essential to better assess potential impacts of climate changes. The projected increase in temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns (droughts, floods) may have important economic consequences given the prevalence of hydropower production in the Abitibi River Basin (ARB) region.
Furthermore, increased temperatures and droughts could also impact the carbon balance in northern peatlands. One of the main limitations for analyzing the risks associated with low (droughts) and/or high (floods) water levels is the lack of long and well spatially distributed instrumental records. Hydrological gauge stations and meteorological stations are usually sparse and of short duration, especially in these regions.
The resulting short time series makes it difficult to realistically evaluate risks associated with extreme events, which occur only rarely. Given these limitations, developing paleorecords constitute a promising avenue to evaluate long-term changes in climate and hydrological systems.
This research program will take advantage of recent advances in dendrohydrology and dendroclimatology to extend back in time (prior to instrumental records) the streamflow series associated with the annual high flow series associated with the ARB.
Photo : UWDEL 2017
Providing a two-century long reconstruction of river flows for the Abitibi River Basin as well as providing a summer drought reconstruction for the same period, based on tree species that respond to water availability at different periods of the year.
Reconstruction (calibration/verification) of seasonal and annual streamflow for the past 200 years.
Reconstruction (calibration/verification) of seasonal and annual summer drought for the past 200 years.
Evaluation of the impacts of past, current and future climate conditions on the hydrological regime.
Synthesis of hydrological reconstructions conducted from central to eastern Canada.
Comparision of streamflow (drought) reconstruction based on distributed hydrological modeling coupled with climate scenarios.
Assessment of the impact of past climate evolution on hydropower production through a simple reservoir model coupled with hydrologic reconstructions.
Estimation of the coherency of the flood signal, streamflow and water level using stem analysis of floodplain black ash trees.
Estimation of the usefulness of diffuse-porous tree species in streamflow reconstruction.
Development of a dataset covering Manitoba, Ontario and Québec identifying potential floodplain sites where a similar methodology could be applied to streamflow reconstruction.
The project will provide reconstructions to quantify the natural variability in past hydrological regimes (high and low flows) and estimate the potential impacts of future climate changes on the hydrology of the Abitibi River basin.
Benefits for adaptation
Benefits for adaptation
This project will provide hydropower producers with the robust scientific analyses to guide decision making in regards to climate change adaptations.
The results will help determine whether the significance of recently observed floods is part of natural variability or if it is attributable to climate change, in which case, it may be relevant to adjust design criteria and management strategies accordingly
Institut de recherche sur les forêts (IRF)
Organisme de bassin versant Abitibi-Jamésie (OBVAJ)
Ressources naturelles Canada (RNCan)
Université de Sherbrooke