Improving Processes & Parameterization
for Prediction in Cold Regions Hydrology
Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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Centre for Hydrology

Theme 1 - Processes

Theme Lead: Sean Carey, Carleton University
(e-mail, www)

The theme aims to improve understanding of the key physical processes involved in the hydrometeorology of cold regions, through intensive and extensive studies of the nature and characteristics of climate and weather, the cryosphere, land surface and sub-surface, water bodies and the biosphere, in a group of high-latitude / high-altitude research basins.

Observations made in each basin have been used to derive algorithms representing a range of natural processes relevant to cold-regions hydrology.

Processes studied include sensible heat exchange, evaporation, radiation exchange, snow accumulation and loss, blowing snow transport rate, precipitation, snowmelt, ground heat flux, advection, soil thaw, overland flow, sub-surface flow, soil moisture change, runoff and streamflow.

The characteristics and conditions found in different basins makes them more or less useful for studying different processes, as shown in the table below;

  Trail Valley Havikpak Creek Wolf Creek Scotty Creek Baker Creek Peyto Creek Lake o'Hara Marmot Creek
Snow / ice melt
and runoff
Lake runoff
Hillslope runoff
Evaporation and

Issues of spatial variability in these processes have been addressed by taking multiple observations within basins, and making comparison between basins, supported by the use of new remote sensing technology. Because the basins cover significantly different topography and climate, the algorithms have been evaluated to ensure robustness and transferability to a variety of different environments.

Theme 1 Timeline:


  • Install and upgrade hydrometeorological network in research basins and begin all field observations
  • Explore alternative methods to LIDAR for obtaining high-resolution DEMs for research basins
  • Collation of historical processes data collected in MAGS and Quinton-CFCAS project
  • Begin analysis of MAGS historical turbulent and radiative transfer data applicable to IP3 project
  • Boundary layer growth experiment begins
  • Identify existing LSS numerical process descriptions for cryosphere processes and incorporate into CRHM
  • All research sites fully instrumented and experiments set up


  • All field field-sites fully operational with personnel on-site for intensive data collection
  • Ongoing analysis of HRU runoff sources, pathways, residence times, and intra-basin hydrological interaction
  • Evaluate and upscale existing numerical process descriptions for frozen and organic soils
  • Ongoing analysis and of radiative and turbulent transfer data from lake and snow experiments
  • Implementation of new and developing numerical process descriptions into CRHM
  • Frequency distributions for spatial representation of soil parameters determined
  • New numerical routines to accurately estimate ground thaw and how it relates to surface and vegetation properties
  • DEMs obtained for each basin


  • Final year of full-scale field measurement programmes
  • Milestones & Deliverables
  • All primary data collection for Theme 1 objectives complete
  • Analysis of aircraft flux and historical MAGS data complete
  • Sources, residence times and pathways of water for intra-basin HRUs resolved
  • New basin runoff description linking hillslope processes and stream routing complete
  • Seasonal energy and water balance of arctic lakes determined
  • Role of lakes in regional climate established and numerical descriptions of lake advection for all stability conditions complete
  • New algorithms for turbulent closure atop glaciers complete
  • Numerical process descriptions of long-wave exitance from snow and shortwave radiation transfer through canopies complete
  • New bulk-transfer coefficients for snow determined


  • Incorporation of all new numerical process descriptions into CRHM complete
  • Continued refinement of numerical process descriptions as they are tested across all research catchments
Sean Carey Carleton University
Richard Essery University of Edinburgh, UK
Raoul Granger Environment Canada
Masaki Hayashi University of Calgary
Richard Janowicz Yukon Environment
Philip Marsh University of Saskatchewan
Scott Munro University of Toronto
John Pomeroy University of Saskatchewan
William Quinton Wilfrid Laurier University
Ken Snelgrove Memorial University of Newfoundland
Ric Soulis University of Waterloo
Chris Spence University of Saskatchewan
Diana Verseghy University of Waterloo