Predicting snowmelt in the mountain headwaters of the world’s major rivers is now vastly more accurate due to a new University of Saskatchewan (USask) computer simulation model.
Predicting snowmelt in the mountain headwaters of the world’s major rivers is now vastly more accurate due to a new University of Saskatchewan (USask) computer simulation model that can improve forecasts of downstream river flow—an innovation that will improve water management in the face of a changing climate.
“Our software has predicted the high snowpacks that occurred in the Rockies this year and the low snowpacks of previous years—useful for forecasting floods and droughts,” said USask post-doctoral fellow Chris Marsh who developed the model as part of his PhD project supervised by hydrologists John Pomeroy and Howard Wheater.
“By determining how much snow accumulates in the winter and melts in the spring, our software enables better planning for crop irrigation and municipal water usage to help produce food and support communities.”
Still in development, Marsh’s computer model can aid the prediction of floods or droughts by integrating information with other tools, and can predict snow in high mountains, a vital source for freshwater and rivers that flow to the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The snow that feeds these water sources is significantly affected by climate change, causing fluctuations in water availability for agriculture, fish, hydroelectricity, and mining, Marsh said.
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Image via Megan Marsh.