Yukon College Home Research & Innovation Changing climate, energy, and the hydrology of northern rivers

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.
 
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.  Accomplishments to date are outlined in the Publications linked to the right.

Project Team

Project Team:
Jos Samuel, Hydrological Modeller, Post-Doc, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
Brian Horton, Research Project Coordinator, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
Bronwyn Benkert, Manager, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College
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

Project 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

Project Partners

Yukon Geological Survey
University of Alberta
University of Saskatchewan
Institut national de la recherche scientifique
Ouranos Consortium

Project Funders

Yukon Energy Corporation
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada