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Spatially-distributed tracer-aided runoff modelling and dynamics ofstorage and water ages in a permafrost-influenced catchment
Thea Ilaria Piovano | Doerthe Tetzlaff | Sean K. Carey | Nadine J. Shatilla | Aaron Smith | Chris Soulsby

Abstract. Permafrost strongly controls hydrological processes in cold regions, and our understanding of how changes in seasonal and perennial frozen ground disposition and linked storage dynamics affects runoff generation processes remains limited. Storage dynamics and water redistribution are influenced by the seasonal variability and spatial heterogeneity of frozen ground, snow accumulation and melt. Stable isotopes provide a potentially useful technique to quantify the dynamics of water sources, flow paths and ages; yet few studies have employed isotope data in permafrost-influenced catchments. Here, we applied the conceptual model STARR (Spatially distributed Tracer-Aided Rainfall-Runoff model), which facilitates fully distributed simulations of hydrological storage dynamics and runoff processes, isotopic composition and water ages. We adapted this model to a subarctic catchment in Yukon Territory, Canada, with a time-variable implementation of field capacity to include the influence of thaw dynamics. A multi-criteria calibration based on stream flow, snow water equivalent and isotopes was applied to three years of data. The integration of isotope data in the spatially distributed model provided the basis to quantify spatio-temporal dynamics of water storage and ages, emphasizing the importance of thaw layer dynamics in mixing and damping the melt signal. By using the model conceptualisation of spatially and temporally variant storage, this study demonstrates the ability of tracer-aided modelling to capture thaw layer dynamics that cause mixing and damping of the isotopic melt signal.

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Wildland fire impacts on water yield across the contiguous United States
Dennis W. Hallema | Ge Sun | Peter Caldwell | François Robinne | Kevin D. Bladon | Steven P. Norman | Yongqiang Liu | Erika Cohen | Steven G. McNulty

Wildland fires in the contiguous United States (CONUS) have increased in size and severity, but much remains unclear about the impact of fire size and burn severity on water supplies used for drinking, irrigation, industry, and hydropower. While some have investigated large-scale fire patterns, long-term effects on runoff, and the simultaneous effect of fire and climate trends on surface water yield, no studies account for all these factors and their interactions at the same time. In this report, we present critical new information for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy—a first-time CONUS-wide assessment of observed and potential wildland fire impacts on surface water yield. First, we analyzed data from 168 fire-affected locations, collected between 1984 and 2013, with machine learning and used climate elasticity models to correct for the local climate baseline impact. Stream gage data show that annual river flow increased most in the Lower Mississippi and Lower and Upper Colorado water resource regions, however they do not show which portion of this increase is caused by fire and which portion results from local climate trends. Our machine learning model identified local climate trends as the main driver of water yield change and determined wildland fires must affect at least 19 percent of a watershed >10 km2 to change its annual water yield. A closer look at 32 locations with fires covering at least 19 percent of a watershed >10 km2 revealed that wildfire generally enhanced annual river flow. Fires increased river flow relatively the most in the Lower Colorado, Pacific Northwest, and California regions. In the Lower Colorado and Pacific Northwest regions, flow increased despite post-fire drought conditions. In southern California, post-fire drought effects masked the flow enhancement attributed to wildfire, meaning that annual water yield declined but not as much as expected based on the decline in precipitation. Prescribed burns in the Southeastern United States did not produce a widespread effect on river flow, because the area affected was typically too small and characterized by only low burn severity. In the second stage of the assessment, we performed full-coverage simulations of the CONUS with the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) hydrologic model (88,000 HUC-12-level watersheds) for the period between 2001 and 2010. This enables us to fill in the gaps of areas with scarce data and to identify regions with large potential increases in post-fire annual water yield (+10 to +50 percent): midto high-elevation forests in northeastern Washington, northwestern Montana, central Minnesota, southern Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota, and coastal forests in Georgia and northern Florida. A hypothetical 20-percent forest burn impact scenario for the CONUS suggests that surface yield can increase up to +10 percent in most watersheds, and even more in some watersheds depending on climate, soils, and vegetation. The insights gained from this quantitative analysis have major implications for flood mitigation and watershed restoration, and are vital to forest management policies aimed at reducing fire impact risk and improving water supply under a changing climate.

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Successful forecasting of harmful cyanobacteria blooms with high frequency lake data
Michael Kehoe | Brian Ingalls | Jason J. Venkiteswaran | Helen M. Baulch

Abstract Cyanobacterial blooms are causing increasing issues across the globe. Bloom forecasting can facilitate adaptation to blooms. Most bloom forecasting models depend on weekly or fortnightly sampling, but these sparse measurements can miss important dynamics. Here we develop forecasting models from five years of high frequency summer monitoring in a shallow lake (which serves as an important regional water supply). A suite of models were calibrated to predict cyanobacterial fluorescence (a biomass proxy) using measurements of: cyanobacterial fluorescence, water temperature, light, and wind speed. High temporal autocorrelation contributed to relatively strong predictive power over 1, 4 and 7 day intervals. Higher order derivatives of water temperature helped improve forecasting accuracy. While traditional monitoring and modelling have supported forecasting on longer timescales, we show high frequency monitoring combined with telemetry allows forecasting over timescales of 1 day to 1 week, supporting early warning, enhanced monitoring, and adaptation of water treatment processes.

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Extreme rainfall drives early onset cyanobacterial bloom
Megan L. Larsen | Helen M. Baulch | Sherry L. Schiff | Dana F. Simon | Sébastien Sauvé | Jason J. Venkiteswaran

Abstract The increasing prevalence of cyanobacteria-dominated harmful algal blooms is strongly associated with nutrient loading and changing climatic patterns. Changes to precipitation frequency and intensity, as predicted by current climate models, are likely to affect bloom development and composition through changes in nutrient fluxes and water column mixing. However, few studies have directly documented the effects of extreme precipitation events on cyanobacterial composition, biomass, and toxin production. We tracked changes in a eutrophic reservoir following an extreme precipitation event, describing an atypically early toxin-producing cyanobacterial bloom, successional progression of the phytoplankton community, toxins, and geochemistry. An increase in bioavailable phosphorus by more than 27-fold in surface waters preceded notable increases in Aphanizomenon flos-aquae throughout the reservoir approximately 2 weeks post flood and ~5 weeks before blooms typically occur. Anabaenopeptin-A and three microcystin congeners (microcystin-LR, -YR, and -RR) were detected at varying levels across sites during the bloom period, which lasted between 3 and 5 weeks. Synthesis and applications: These findings suggest extreme rainfall can trigger early cyanobacterial bloom initiation, effectively elongating the bloom season period of potential toxicity. However, effects will vary depending on factors including the timing of rainfall and reservoir physical structure. In contrast to the effects of early season extreme rainfall, a mid-summer runoff event appeared to help mitigate the bloom in some areas of the reservoir by increasing flushing.

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High-Resolution Regional Climate Modeling and Projection over Western Canada using a Weather Research Forecasting Model with a Pseudo-Global Warming Approach
Yanping Li | Zhenhua Li | Zhe Zhang | Liang Chen | Sopan Kurkute | Lucia Scaff | Xicai Pan

Abstract. To assess the hydroclimatic risks posed by climate change in western Canada, this study conducted a retrospective simulation (CTL) and a pseudo-global warming (PGW) dynamical downscaling of future warming projection under RCP8.5 from an ensemble of CMIP5 climate model projections using a convection-permitting 4-km Weather Research Forecasting (WRF) model. The convection-permitting resolution of the model avoids the error-prone convection parameterization by explicitly resolving cumulus plumes. The evaluation of surface air temperature by the retrospective simulation WRF-CTL against a gridded observation ANUSPLIN shows that WRF simulation of daily mean temperature agrees well with ANUSPLIN temperature in terms of the geographical distribution of cold biases east of the Canadian Rockies, especially in spring. Compared with the observed precipitation from ANUSPLIN and CaPA, the WRF-CTL simulation captures the main pattern of distribution, but with a wet bias seen in higher precipitation near the British Columbia coast in winter and over the immediate region on the lee side of the Canadian Rockies. The PGW simulation shows more warming than CTL, especially over the polar region in the northeast, during the cold season, and in daily minimum temperature. Precipitation changes in PGW over CTL vary with the seasons: In spring and late fall for both basins, precipitation is shown to increase, whereas in summer in the Saskatchewan River Basin, it either shows no increase or decreases, with less summer precipitation shown in PGW than in CTL for some parts of the Prairies. This seasonal difference in precipitation change suggests that in summer the Canadian Prairies and the southern Boreal Forest biomes will likely see a slight decline in precipitation minus evapotranspiration, which might impact soil moisture for farming and forest fires. With almost no increase in summer precipitation and much more evapotranspiration in PGW than in CTL, the water availability during the growing season will be challenging for the Canadian Prairies. WRF-PGW shows an increase of high-intensity precipitation events and shifts the distribution of precipitation events toward more extremely intensive events in all seasons, as current moderate events become extreme events with more vapor loading, especially in summer. Due to this shift in precipitation intensity to the higher end in the PGW simulation, the seemingly moderate increase in the total amount of precipitation in summer for both the Mackenzie and Saskatchewan river basins may not reflect the real change in flooding risk and water availability for agriculture. The high-resolution downscaled climate simulations provide abundant opportunities both for investigating local-scale atmospheric dynamics and for studying climate impacts in hydrology, agriculture, and ecosystems. The change in the probability distribution of precipitation intensity also calls for innovative bias-correction methods to be developed for the application of the dataset when bias-correction is required.

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Are the effects of vegetation and soil changes as important as climatechange impacts on hydrological processes?
Kabir Rasouli | John W. Pomeroy | Paul H. Whitfield

Abstract. Hydrological processes are widely understood to be sensitive to changes in climate, but the effects of changes in vegetation and soils have seldom been considered. The response of mountain hydrology to future climate and vegetation/soil changes is modelled in three snowmelt dominated mountain basins in the North American Cordillera. A Cold Regions Hydrological Model developed for each basin was driven with perturbed observed meteorological time series. Monthly perturbations were developed from differences in eleven regional climate model outputs between the present and future scenarios. Future climate change in these basins results in decreased modelled peak snow water equivalent (SWE) but increased evapotranspiration in all basins. All three watersheds became more rainfall-dominated. In Wolf Creek in the Yukon Territory, an insignificant increasing effect of vegetation change on peak SWE was found to be important enough to offset the significant climate change effect on alpine snow. In Marmot Creek in the Canadian Rockies, a combined effect of soil and climate changes on increasing annual runoff becomes significant while their individual effects are not statistically significant. In the relatively warmer Reynolds Mountain East catchment in Idaho, USA, only vegetation change decreases annual runoff volume and changes in soil, climate, or combination of them do not affect runoff. At high elevations in Wolf and Marmot Creeks, modelled vegetation/soil changes moderated the impact of climate change on peak SWE, the timing of peak SWE, evapotranspiration, and annual runoff volume. At medium elevations, these changes intensified the impact of climate change, decreasing peak SWE, and sublimation. The modelled hydrological impacts of changes in climate, vegetation, and soil in mountain environments are similar in magnitude but not consistently in the direction in all biomes; in some combinations, this results in enhanced impacts at lower elevations and latitudes and offsetting effects at higher elevations and latitudes.

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Hydrologic-Land Surface Modelling of a Complex System under PrecipitationUncertainty: A Case Study of the Saskatchewan River Basin, Canada
Fuad Yassin | Saman Razavi | Jefferson S. Wong | Alain Pietroniro | H. S. Wheater

Abstract. Hydrologic-Land Surface Models (H-LSMs) have been progressively developed to a stage where they represent the dominant hydrological processes for a variety of hydrological regimes and include a range of water management practices, and are increasingly used to simulate water storages and fluxes of large basins under changing environmental conditions across the globe. However, efforts for comprehensive evaluation of the utility of H-LSMs in large, regulated watersheds have been limited. In this study, we evaluated the capability of a Canadian H-LSM, called MESH, in the highly regulated Saskatchewan River Basin (SaskRB), Canada, under the constraint of significant precipitation uncertainty. The SaskRB is a complex system characterized by hydrologically-distinct regions that include the Rocky Mountains, Boreal Forest, and the Prairies. This basin is highly vulnerable to potential climate change and extreme events. A comprehensive analysis of the MESH model performance was carried out in two steps. First, the reliability of multiple precipitation products was evaluated against climate station observations and based on their performance in simulating streamflow across the basin when forcing the MESH model with a default parameterization. Second, a state-of-the-art multi-criteria calibration approach was applied, using various observational information including streamflow, storage and fluxes for calibration and validation. The first analysis shows that the quality of precipitation products had a direct and immediate impact on simulation performance for the basin headwaters but effects were dampened when going downstream. In particular, the Canadian Precipitation Analysis (CaPA) performed the best among the precipitation products in capturing timings and minimizing the magnitude of error against observation, despite a general underestimation of precipitation amount. The subsequent analyses show that the MESH model was able to capture observed responses of multiple fluxes and storage across the basin using a global multi-station calibration method. Despite poorer performance in some basins, the global parameterization generally achieved better model performance than a default model parameterization. Validation using storage anomaly and evapotranspiration generally showed strong correlation with observations, but revealed potential deficiencies in the simulation of storage anomaly over open water areas.

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Assessing inter-annual and seasonal patterns of DOC and DOM quality across a complex alpine watershed underlain by discontinuous permafrost in Yukon, Canada
Nadine J. Shatilla | Sean K. Carey

Abstract. High latitude environments store approximately half of the global organic carbon pool in peatlands, organic soils and permafrost while large arctic rivers convey an estimated 18–50 Tg C a−1 to the Arctic Ocean. Warming trends associated with climate change affect dissolved organic carbon (DOC) export from terrestrial to riverine environments. However, there is limited consensus as to whether exports will increase or decrease due to complex interactions between climate, soils, vegetation, and associated production, mobilization and transport processes. A large body of research has focused on large river system DOC and DOM lability and observed trends conserved across years, whereas investigation at smaller watershed scales show that thermokarst and fire have a transient impact on hydrologically-mediated solute transport. This study, located in the Wolf Creek Research Basin situated ~ 20 km south of Whitehorse, YT, Canada, utilises a nested design to assess seasonal and annual patterns of DOC and DOM composition across diverse landscape types (headwater, wetland, lake) and watershed scales. Peak DOC concentration and export occurred during freshet per most northern watersheds, however, peaks were lower than a decade ago at the headwater site Granger Creek. DOM composition was most variable during freshet with high A254, SUVA254 and low FI and BIX. DOM composition was relatively insensitive to flow variation during summer and fall. The influence of increasing watershed scale and downstream mixing of landscape contributions was an overall dampening of DOC concentrations and optical indices with increasing groundwater contribution. Forecasted vegetation shifts, permafrost thaw and other changes due to climate change may alter DOM sources from predominantly organic soils to decomposing vegetation, and facilitate transport through deeper flow pathways with an enhanced groundwater role.

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What do we do with model simulation crashes? Recommendations for global sensitivity analysis of earth and environmental systems models
Razi Sheikholeslami | Saman Razavi | Amin Haghnegahdar

Abstract. Complex, software-intensive, technically advanced, and computationally demanding models, presumably with ever-growing realism and fidelity, have been widely used to simulate and predict the dynamics of the Earth and environmental systems. The parameter-induced simulation crash (failure) problem is typical across most of these models, despite considerable efforts that modellers have directed at model development and implementation over the last few decades. A simulation failure mainly occurs due to the violation of the numerical stability conditions, non-robust numerical implementations, or errors in programming. However, the existing sampling-based analysis techniques such as global sensitivity analysis (GSA) methods, which require running these models under many configurations of parameter values, are ill-equipped to effectively deal with model failures. To tackle this problem, we propose a novel approach that allows users to cope with failed designs (samples) during the GSA, without knowing where they took place and without re-running the entire experiment. This approach deems model crashes as missing data and uses strategies such as median substitution, single nearest neighbour, or response surface modelling to fill in for model crashes. We test the proposed approach on a 10-paramter HBV-SASK rainfall-runoff model and a 111-parameter MESH land surface-hydrology model. Our results show that response surface modelling is a superior strategy, out of the data filling strategies tested, and can scale well to the dimensionality of the model, sample size, and the ratio of number of failures to the sample size. Further, we conduct a "failure analysis" and discuss some possible causes of the MESH model failure.

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A Review and Synthesis of Future Earth System Change in theInterior of Western Canada: Part I – Climate and Meteorology
Ronald E. Stewart | Kit K. Szeto | Barrie Bonsal | John Hanesiak | Bohdan Kochtubajda | Yanping Li | Julie M. Thériault | C. M. DeBeer | Benita Y. Tam | Zhenhua Li | Lu Zhuo | Jennifer Bruneau | Sébastien Marinier | Dominic Matte

Abstract. The Interior of Western Canada, up to and including the Arctic, has experienced rapid change in its climate, hydrology, cryosphere and ecosystems and this is expected to continue. Although there is general consensus that warming will occur in the future, many critical issues remain. In this first of two articles, attention is placed on atmospheric-related issues that range from large scales down to individual precipitation events. Each of these is considered in terms of expected change organized by season and utilizing climate scenario information as well as thermodynamically-driven future climatic forcing simulations. Large scale atmospheric circulations affecting this region are generally projected to become stronger in each season and, coupled with warming temperatures, lead to enhancements of numerous water-related and temperature-related extremes. These include winter snowstorms, freezing rain, drought as well as atmospheric forcing of spring floods although not necessarily summer convection. Collective insights of these atmospheric findings are summarized in a consistent, connected physical framework.

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Soil Bacterial and Fungal Response to Wildfires in the Canadian Boreal Forest Across a Burn Severity Gradient
Thea Whitman | Ellen Whitman | Jamie Woolet | Mike D. Flannigan | Dan K. Thompson | Marc‐André Parisien

Global fire regimes are changing, with increases in wildfire frequency and severity expected for many North American forests over the next 100 years. Fires can result in dramatic changes to C stocks and can restructure plant and microbial communities, which can have long-lasting effects on ecosystem functions. We investigated wildfire effects on soil microbial communities (bacteria and fungi) in an extreme fire season in the northwestern Canadian boreal forest, using field surveys, remote sensing, and high-throughput amplicon sequencing. We found that fire occurrence, along with vegetation community, moisture regime, pH, total carbon, and soil texture are all significant predictors of soil microbial community composition. Communities become increasingly dissimilar with increasingly severe burns, and the burn severity index (an index of the fractional area of consumed organic soils and exposed mineral soils) best predicted total bacterial community composition, while burned/unburned was the best predictor for fungi. Globally abundant taxa were identified as significant positive fire responders, including the bacteria Massilia sp. (64x more abundant with fire) and Arthrobacter sp. (35x), and the fungi Penicillium sp. (22x) and Fusicladium sp. (12x) Bacterial and fungal co-occurrence network modules were characterized by fire responsiveness as well as pH and moisture regime. Building on the efforts of previous studies, our results identify specific fire-responsive microbial taxa and suggest that accounting for burn severity improves our understanding of their response to fires, with potentially important implications for ecosystem functions.

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Watershed classification for the Canadian prairie
Jared D. Wolfe | Kevin Shook | Chris Spence | Colin J. Whitfield

Abstract. Classification and clustering approaches provide a means to group watersheds according to similar attributes, functions, or behaviours, and can aid in managing natural resources within these regions. While widely used, approaches based on hydrological response parameters restrict analyses to regions where well-developed hydrological records exist, and overlook factors contributing to other management concerns, including biogeochemistry and ecology. In the Canadian Prairie, hydrometric gauging is sparse and often seasonal, large areas are endorheic and the landscape is highly modified by human activity, complicating classification based solely on hydrological parameters. We compiled climate, geological, topographical, and land cover data from the Prairie and conducted a classification of watersheds using a hierarchical clustering of principal components. Seven classes were identified based on the clustering of watersheds, including those distinguishing southern Manitoba, the pothole region, river valleys, and grasslands. Important defining variables were climate, elevation, surficial geology, wetland distribution, and land cover. In particular, three classes occur almost exclusively within regions that tend not to contribute to major river systems, and collectively encompass the majority of the study area. The gross difference in key characteristics across the classes suggests that future water management and climate change may carry with them heterogeneous sets of implications for water security across the Prairies. This emphasizes the importance of developing management strategies that target sub-regions expected to behave coherently as current human-induced changes to the landscape will affect how watersheds react to change. This study provides the first classification of watersheds within the Prairie based on climatic and biophysical attributes, and our findings provide a foundation for addressing questions related to hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological behaviours at a regional level.

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Representation of Water Management in Hydrological and LandSurface Models
Fuad Yassin | Saman Razavi | Mohamed Elshamy | Bruce Davison | Gonzalo Sapriza-Azuri | H. S. Wheater

Abstract. Reservoirs significantly affect flow regimes in watershed systems by changing the magnitude and timing of streamflows. Failure to represent these effects limits the performance of hydrological and land surface models (H-LSMs) in the many highly regulated basins across the globe and limits the applicability of such models to investigate the futures of watershed systems through scenario analysis (e.g., scenarios of climate, land use, or reservoir regulation changes). An adequate representation of reservoirs and their operation in an H-LSM is therefore essential for a realistic representation of the downstream flow regime. In this paper, we present a general parametric reservoir operation model based on piecewise linear relationships between reservoir storage, inflow, and release, to approximate actual reservoir operations. For the identification of the model parameters, we propose two strategies: (a) a generalized parameterization that requires a relatively limited amount of data; and (b) direct calibration via multi-objective optimization when more data on historical storage and release are available. We use data from 37 reservoir case studies located in several regions across the globe for developing and testing the model. We further build this reservoir operation model into the MESH modelling system, which is a large-scale H-LSM. Our results across the case studies show that the proposed reservoir model with both of the parameter identification strategies leads to improved simulation accuracy compared with the other widely used approaches for reservoir operation simulation. We further show the significance of enabling MESH with this reservoir model and discuss the interdependent effects of the simulation accuracy of natural processes and that of reservoir operation on the overall model performance. The reservoir operation model is generic and can be integrated into any H-LSM.

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Assessment of Near 0 °C Temperature and Precipitation Characteristicsacross Canada
Éva Mekis | Ronald E. Stewart | Julie M. Thériault | Bohdan Kochtubajda | Barrie Bonsal | Zhuo Liu

Abstract. The 0 °C temperature threshold is critical to many meteorological and hydrological processes driven by melting and freezing in the atmosphere, surface and sub-surface and by the associated precipitation varying between rain, freezing rain, wet snow and snow. This threshold, linked with freeze-thaw, is especially important in cold regions such as Canada. This study develops a Canada-wide perspective on near 0 °C conditions with a particular focus on the occurrence of its associated precipitation. Since this analysis requires hourly values of surface temperature and precipitation type observations, it was limited to 92 stations over the 1981–2011 period. In addition, nine stations representative of various climatic regions are selected for further analysis. Near 0 °C conditions are defined as periods when the surface temperature is between −2 °C and 2 °C. Near 0 °C conditions occur often across all regions of the country although the annual number of days and hours and the duration of these events varies dramatically. Various forms of precipitation (including rain, freezing rain, wet snow and ice pellets) are sometimes linked with these temperatures with highest fractions tending to occur in Atlantic Canada. Trends of most temperature-based and precipitation-based indicators show little or no change despite a systematic warming in annual temperatures. Over the annual cycle, near 0 °C temperatures and precipitation often exhibit a pattern with short durations near summer driven by the diurnal cycle, while longer durations tend to occur more towards winter associated with storms. There is also a tendency for near 0 °C temperatures to occur more often than expected relative to other temperature windows; due at least in part to diabatic cooling and heating occurring with melting and freezing, respectively, in the atmosphere and at the surface.

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Assessment and Projection of Water Budget over Western Canada using Convection Permitting WRF Simulations
Sopan Kurkute | Zhenhua Li | Yanping Li | Fei Huo

Abstract. Water resources in cold regions in western Canada face severe risks posed by anthropogenic global warming as evapotranspiration increases and precipitation regimes shift. Although understanding the water cycle is key in addressing climate change issues, it is difficult to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution observations of hydroclimatic processes, especially in remote regions. Climate models are useful tools for dissecting and diagnosing these processes, especially, convection-permitting (CP) high-resolution regional climate simulation provides advantages over lower-resolution models by explicitly representing convection. In addition to better representing convective systems, higher spatial resolution also better represents topography and mountain meteorology, and highly heterogeneous geophysical features. However, there is little work with convection-permitting regional climate models conducted over western Canada. Focusing on the Mackenzie and Saskatchewan river basins, this study investigated the surface water budget and atmospheric moisture balance in historical and RCP8.5 projections using 4-km CP Weather Research and Forecast (WRF). We compared the high-resolution 4-km CP WRF and three common reanalysis datasets: NARR, JRA-55, and ERA-Interim. High-resolution WRF out-performs the reanalyses in balancing the surface water budget in both river basins with much lower residual terms. For the pseudo-global warming scenario at the end of the 21st century with RCP8.5 radiative forcing, both the Mackenzie and Saskatchewan river basins show increases in the amplitude for precipitation and evapotranspiration and a decrease in runoff. The Saskatchewan river basin shows a moderate increase of precipitation in the west and a small decrease in the east. Combined with a significant increase of evapotranspiration in a warmer climate, the Saskatchewan river basin would have a larger deficit of water resources than in the current climate based on the PGW simulation. The high-resolution simulation also shows the difference of atmospheric water vapour balance in the two river basins is due to flow orientation and topography differences at the western boundaries of the two basins. The sensitivity of water vapour balance to fine-scale topography and atmospheric processes shown in this study demonstrates that high-resolution dynamical downscaling is important for large-scale water balance and hydrological cycles.