Changing climate, energy, and the hydrology of northern rivers

Power demands in Yukon are largely met through hydroelectric generation.  Runoff from the headwaters of the Yukon, Aishihik, and Mayo rivers are an important territorial resource. Sound water management and planning is required to ensure future hydro-electric security, but there is currently significant uncertainty regarding the response of the river's flow to climate change. Northern Climate ExChange has led a series of projects to explore methods that make the best use of the limited meteorological data and direct observations that are available.

Project Overview

Outcomes from these projects will establish appropriate monitoring networks and develop predictive tools for Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC), that will form the basis of climate-related risk assessment and management strategies. These tools will allow YEC to operate hydropower facilities more efficiently under various demand scenarios, which is of key economic importance for YEC and Yukon, where a growing economy demands secure power resources.

These projects involve students from Yukon College, thus contributing to the development of highly qualified personnel with valuable experience in Canada's North. Ultimately, the research projects improve our understanding of, and preparedness for, the impacts of climate change in northern Canada, which is of vital importance for continued economic prosperity in Yukon, and in northern Canada.

The initial project ran in 2011/12 and focused on the Llewellyn Glacier as a key water source for the Yukon River.  A second Yukon River project began in 2012 and will last until December 2016. This project expanded from the Llewellyn to include the entire Yukon River headwaters above Whitehorse Dam.  A third project began in September 2016. This project will develop hydrologic modelling tools for the Aishihik and Mayo rivers. 

Project Team

Dr. Jos Samuel, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yukon Research Centre

Brian Horton, Project Coordinator, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, School of Science

Dr. Bronwyn Hancock, Manager, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre

Jeffrey Kavanaugh, Adjunct Faculty, Yukon College; Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

Chris DeBeer, Research Associate, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College

Bob Sagar, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Reserach Centre, Yukon College

Collaborators and Technical Advisors

Sarah Laxton, Outreach Geologist, Yukon Geological Survey

Mary Samolczyk, Instructor, School of Science, Yukon College

John Pomeroy, Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Alain Rousseau, Professor, Institut national de la recherche scientifique

    Partners

    Yukon Geological Survey

    University of Alberta

    University of Saskatchewan

    Institut national de la recherche scientifique

    Ouranos Consortium

     

    Funders

    Yukon Energy Corporation

    Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada