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Numerical daemons of hydrological models are summoned byextreme precipitation
Peter T. La Follette | Adriaan J. Teuling | Nans Addor | Martyn P. Clark | Koen Jansen | Lieke Melsen

Abstract. Hydrological models are usually systems of nonlinear differential equations for which no analytical solutions exist and thus rely on approximate numerical solutions. While some studies have investigated the relationship between numerical method choice and model error, the extent to which extreme precipitation like that observed during hurricanes Harvey and Katrina impacts numerical error of hydrological models is still unknown. This knowledge is relevant in light of climate change, where many regions will likely experience more intense precipitation events. In this experiment, a large number of hydrographs is generated with the modular modeling framework FUSE, using eight numerical techniques across a variety of forcing datasets. Multiple model structures, parameter sets, and initial conditions are incorporated for generality. The computational expense and numerical error associated with each hydrograph were recorded. It was found that numerical error (root mean square error) usually increases with precipitation intensity and decreases with event duration. Some numerical methods constrain errors much more effectively than others, sometimes by many orders of magnitude. Of the tested numerical methods, a second-order adaptive explicit method is found to be the most efficient because it has both low numerical error and low computational cost. A basic literature review indicates that many popular modeling codes use numerical techniques that were suggested by this experiment to be sub-optimal. We conclude that relatively large numerical errors might be common in current models, and because these will likely become larger as the climate changes, we advocate for the use of low cost, low error numerical methods.

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Advances in modelling large river basins in cold regions with Modélisation Environmentale Communautaire - Surface and Hydrology (MESH), the Canadian hydrological land surface scheme
H. S. Wheater | John W. Pomeroy | Alain Pietroniro | Bruce Davison | Mohamed Elshamy | Fuad Yassin | Prabin Rokaya | Abbas Fayad | Zelalem Tesemma | Daniel Princz | Youssef Loukili | C. M. DeBeer | Andrew Ireson | Saman Razavi | Karl–Erich Lindenschmidt | Amin Elshorbagy | Matthew K. MacDonald | Mohamed S. Abdelhamed | Amin Haghnegahdar | Ala Bahrami

Cold regions provide water resources for half the global population yet face rapid change. Their hydrology is dominated by snow, ice and frozen soils, and climate warming is having profound effects. Hydrological models have a key role in predicting changing water resources, but are challenged in cold regions. Ground-based data to quantify meteorological forcing and constrain model parameterization are limited, while hydrological processes are complex, often controlled by phase change energetics. River flows are impacted by poorly quantified human activities. This paper reports scientific developments over the past decade of MESH, the Canadian community hydrological land surface scheme. New cold region process representation includes improved blowing snow transport and sublimation, lateral land-surface flow, prairie pothole storage dynamics, frozen ground infiltration and thermodynamics, and improved glacier modelling. New algorithms to represent water management include multi-stage reservoir operation. Parameterization has been supported by field observations and remotely sensed data; new methods for parameter identification have been used to evaluate model uncertainty and support regionalization. Additionally, MESH has been linked to broader decision-support frameworks, including river ice simulation and hydrological forecasting. The paper also reports various applications to the Saskatchewan and Mackenzie River basins in western Canada (0.4 and 1.8 million km). These basins arise in glaciated mountain headwaters, are partly underlain by permafrost, and include remote and incompletely understood forested, wetland, agricultural and tundra ecoregions. This imposes extraordinary challenges to prediction, including the need to overcoming biases in forcing data sets, which can have disproportionate effects on the simulated hydrology.

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Impact of measured and simulated tundra snowpack properties on heat transfer
Victoria Dutch | Nick Rutter | Leanne Wake | Melody Sandells | Chris Derksen | Branden Walker | Gabriel Gosselin | Oliver Sonnentag | Richard Essery | Richard Kelly | Philip Marsh | Joshua King

Abstract. Snowpack microstructure controls the transfer of heat to, and the temperature of, the underlying soils. In situ measurements of snow and soil properties from four field campaigns during two different winters (March and November 2018, January and March 2019) were compared to an ensemble of CLM5.0 (Community Land Model) simulations, at Trail Valley Creek, Northwest Territories, Canada. Snow MicroPenetrometer profiles allowed snowpack density and thermal conductivity to be derived at higher vertical resolution (1.25 mm) and a larger sample size (n = 1050) compared to traditional snowpit observations (3 cm vertical resolution; n = 115). Comparing measurements with simulations shows CLM overestimated snow thermal conductivity by a factor of 3, leading to a cold bias in wintertime soil temperatures (RMSE = 5.8 °C). Bias-correction of the simulated thermal conductivity (relative to field measurements) improved simulated soil temperatures (RMSE = 2.1 °C). Multiple linear regression shows the required correction factor is strongly related to snow depth (R2 = 0.77, RMSE = 0.066) particularly early in the winter. Furthermore, CLM simulations did not adequately represent the observed high proportions of depth hoar. Addressing uncertainty in simulated snow properties and the corresponding heat flux is important, as wintertime soil temperatures act as a control on subnivean soil respiration, and hence impact Arctic winter carbon fluxes and budgets.

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The Boreal-Arctic Wetland and Lake Dataset (BAWLD)
David Olefeldt | Mikael Hovemyr | McKenzie Kuhn | David Bastviken | Theodore J. Bohn | John Connolly | Patrick Crill | Eugénie Euskirchen | S. A. Finkelstein | Hélène Genet | Guido Grosse | Lorna I. Harris | Liam Heffernan | Manuel Helbig | Gustaf Hugelius | Ryan H. S. Hutchins | Sari Juutinen | Mark J. Lara | Avni Malhotra | Kristen L. Manies | A. David McGuire | Susan M. Natali | J. A. O’Donnell | Frans‐Jan W. Parmentier | Aleksi Räsänen | Christina Schädel | Oliver Sonnentag | Maria Strack | Suzanne E. Tank | Claire C. Treat | R. K. Varner | Tarmo Virtanen | Rebecca K. Warren | Jennifer D. Watts

Abstract. Methane emissions from boreal and arctic wetlands, lakes, and rivers are expected to increase in response to warming and associated permafrost thaw. However, the lack of appropriate land cover datasets for scaling field-measured methane emissions to circumpolar scales has contributed to a large uncertainty for our understanding of present-day and future methane emissions. Here we present the Boreal-Arctic Wetland and Lake Dataset (BAWLD), a land cover dataset based on an expert assessment, extrapolated using random forest modelling from available spatial datasets of climate, topography, soils, permafrost conditions, vegetation, wetlands, and surface water extents and dynamics. In BAWLD, we estimate the fractional coverage of five wetland, seven lake, and three river classes within 0.5 × 0.5° grid cells that cover the northern boreal and tundra biomes (17 % of the global land surface). Land cover classes were defined using criteria that ensured distinct methane emissions among classes, as indicated by a co-developed comprehensive dataset of methane flux observations. In BAWLD, wetlands occupied 3.2 × 106 km2 (14 % of domain) with a 95 % confidence interval between 2.8 and 3.8 × 106 km2. Bog, fen, and permafrost bog were the most abundant wetland classes, covering ~28 % each of the total wetland area, while the highest methane emitting marsh and tundra wetland classes occupied 5 and 12 %, respectively. Lakes, defined to include all lentic open-water ecosystems regardless of size, covered 1.4 × 106 km2 (6 % of domain). Low methane-emitting large lakes (> 10 km2) and glacial lakes jointly represented 78 % of the total lake area, while high-emitting peatland and yedoma lakes covered 18 and 4 %, respectively. Small (< 0.1 km2) glacial, peatland, and yedoma lakes combined covered 17 % of the total lake area, but contributed disproportionally to the overall spatial uncertainty of lake area with a 95 % confidence interval between 0.15 and 0.38 × 106 km2. Rivers and streams were estimated to cover 0.12 × 106 km2 (0.5 % of domain) of which 8 % was associated with high-methane emitting headwaters that drain organic-rich landscapes. Distinct combinations of spatially co-occurring wetland and lake classes were identified across the BAWLD domain, allowing for the mapping of “wetscapes” that will have characteristic methane emission magnitudes and sensitivities to climate change at regional scales. With BAWLD, we provide a dataset which avoids double-accounting of wetland, lake and river extents, and which includes confidence intervals for each land cover class. As such, BAWLD will be suitable for many hydrological and biogeochemical modelling and upscaling efforts for the northern Boreal and Arctic region, in particular those aimed at improving assessments of current and future methane emissions. Data is freely available at (Olefeldt et al., 2021).

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Review Article: Global Monitoring of Snow Water Equivalent using High Frequency Radar Remote Sensing
Leung Tsang | M. T. Durand | Chris Derksen | A. P. Barros | Dong-In Kang | Hans Lievens | Hans‐Peter Marshall | Jiyue Zhu | Joel T. Johnson | Joshua King | Juha Lemmetyinen | Melody Sandells | Nick Rutter | Paul Siqueira | A. W. Nolin | Batu Osmanoglu | Carrie Vuyovich | Edward Kim | Drew Taylor | Ioanna Merkouriadi | Ludovic Brucker | Mahdi Navari | Marie Dumont | Richard Kelly | Rhae Sung Kim | Tien-Hao Liao | Xiaolan Xu

Abstract. Seasonal snow cover is the largest single component of the cryosphere in areal extent, covering an average of 46 million square km of Earth's surface (31 % of the land area) each year, and is thus an important expression of and driver of the Earth’s climate. In recent years, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover has been declining at about the same rate (~ −13 %/decade) as Arctic summer sea ice. More than one-sixth of the world’s population relies on seasonal snowpack and glaciers for a water supply that is likely to decrease this century. Snow is also a critical component of Earth’s cold regions' ecosystems, in which wildlife, vegetation, and snow are strongly interconnected. Snow water equivalent (SWE) describes the quantity of snow stored on the land surface and is of fundamental importance to water, energy, and geochemical cycles. Quality global SWE estimates are lacking. Given the vast seasonal extent combined with the spatially variable nature of snow distribution at regional and local scales, surface observations will not be able to provide sufficient SWE information. Satellite observations presently cannot provide SWE information at the spatial and temporal resolutions required to address science and high socio-economic value applications such as water resource management and streamflow forecasting. In this paper, we review the potential contribution of X- and Ku-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for global monitoring of SWE. We describe radar interactions with snow-covered landscapes, characterization of snowpack properties using radar measurements, and refinement of retrieval algorithms via synergy with other microwave remote sensing approaches. SAR can image the surface during both day and night regardless of cloud cover, allowing high-frequency revisit at high spatial resolution as demonstrated by missions such as Sentinel-1. The physical basis for estimating SWE from X- and Ku-band radar measurements at local scales is volume scattering by millimetre-scale snow grains. Inference of global snow properties from SAR requires an interdisciplinary approach based on field observations of snow microstructure, physical snow modelling, electromagnetic theory, and retrieval strategies over a range of scales. New field measurement capabilities have enabled significant advances in understanding snow microstructure such as grain size, densities, and layering. We describe radar interactions with snow-covered landscapes, the characterization of snowpack properties using radar measurements, and the refinement of retrieval algorithms via synergy with other microwave remote sensing approaches. This review serves to inform the broader snow research, monitoring, and applications communities on progress made in recent decades, and sets the stage for a new era in SWE remote-sensing from SAR measurements.

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Impact of Winter Soil Processes on Nutrient Leaching in Cold Region Agroecosystems
Konrad Krogstad | Grant J. Jensen | Mehdi Gharasoo | Laura Hug | David L. Rudolph | Philippe Van Cappellen | Fereidoun Rezanezhad

High-latitude cold regions are warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with the greatest warming occurring during the winter. Warmer winters are associated with shorter periods of snow cover, resulting in more frequent and extensive soil freezing and thawing. Freeze-thaw cycles influence soil chemical, biological, and physical properties and any changes to winter soil processes may impact carbon and nutrients export from affected soils, possibly altering soil health and nearby water quality. These impacts are relevant for agricultural soils and practices in cold regions as they are critical in governing water flows and quality within agroecosystems. In this study, a soil column experiment was conducted to assess the leaching of nutrients from fertilized agricultural soil during the non-growing season. Four soil columns were exposed to a non-growing season temperature and precipitation model and fertilizer amendments were made to two of the columns to determine the efficacy of fall-applied fertilizers and compared to other two unfertilized control columns. Leachates from the soil columns were collected and analyzed for cations and anions. The experiment results showed that a transition from a freeze period to a thaw period resulted in significant loss of chloride (Cl-), sulfate (SO42-) and nitrate (NO3-). Even with low NO3- concentrations in the applied artificial rainwater and fertilizer, high NO3- concentrations (~150 mg l-1) were observed in fertilized column leachates. Simple plug flow reactor model results indicate the high NO3- leachates are found to be due to active nitrification occurring in the upper oxidized portion of the soil columns mimicking overwinter NO3- losses via nitrification in agricultural fields. The low NO3- leachates in unfertilized columns suggest that freeze-thaw cycling had little effect on N mineralization in soil. Findings from this study will ultimately be used to bolster winter soil biogeochemical models by elucidating nutrient fluxes over changing winter conditions to refine best management practices for fertilizer application.

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Deep Learning, Explained: Fundamentals, Explainability, and Bridgeability to Process-based Modelling
Saman Razavi

Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), and particularly in deep learning (DL), have created tremendous excitement and opportunities in the earth and environmental sciences communities. To leverage these new ‘data-driven’ technologies, however, one needs to understand the fundamental concepts that give rise to DL and how they differ from ‘process-based’, mechanistic modelling. This paper revisits those fundamentals and addresses 10 questions often posed by earth and environmental scientists with the aid of a real-world modelling experiment. The overarching objective is to contribute to a future of AI-assisted earth and environmental sciences where DL models can (1) embrace the typically ignored knowledge base available, (2) function credibly in ‘true’ out-of-sample prediction, and (3) handle non-stationarity in earth and environmental systems. Comparing and contrasting earth and environmental problems with prominent AI applications, such as playing chess and trading in stock markets, provides critical insights for better directing future research in this field.

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A socio-hydrologic framework for understanding conflict and cooperation in transboundary rivers
Yongping Wei | Jing Wei | Gen Li | Shuanglei Wu | David J. Yu | Fuqiang Tian | Murugesu Sivapalan

Abstract. Increasing hydrologic variability, accelerating population growth, and resurgence of water resources development projects have all indicated increasing tensions among the riparian countries of transboundary rivers. This article aims to review the existing knowledge on conflict and cooperation in transboundary rivers from a multidisciplinary perspective and propose a socio-hydrological framework that integrates the slow and less visible societal processes with existing hydrological-economic models, revealing the hidden feedbacks between changes in societal processes and hydrological changes. This framework contributes to understanding the mechanism that drives conflict and cooperation in transboundary river management.

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Hydrogeological control of the thermal regime of a sub-alpine headwater stream
Benjamin Roesky | M. Hayashi

Stream thermal regimes are critical to the stability of freshwater habitats. There is growing concern that climate change will result in stream warming due to rising air temperatures, decreased shading in forested areas due to wildfires, and changes in streamflow. Groundwater plays an important role in controlling stream temperatures in mountain headwaters, where it makes up a considerable portion of discharge. This study investigated the controls on the thermal regime of a headwater stream, and the surrounding groundwater processes, in a catchment on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Groundwater discharge to the headwater spring is partially sourced by a seasonal lake. Spring, stream, and lake temperature, water level, discharge and chemistry data were used to build a conceptual model of the system. Meteorological data was used to set up a stream temperature model. A tracer test was carried out to estimate hyporheic exchange along the study reach. This study presents a unique example of an indirectly lake-headed stream i.e., where the interaction of groundwater and lake water, and the hydraulic gradient determine the resulting stream temperature. Energy balance of the stream is mainly controlled by radiation. Sensible and latent heat fluxes play a secondary role, but their effects generally cancel out. Hyporheic exchange is present but plays only a minor role in the energy balance. During snowfall events, the latent heat associated with melting of direct snowfall onto the water surface was responsible for rapid stream cooling. An increase in advective inputs from groundwater and hillslope pathways did not result in observed cooling of stream water during rainfall events. The results from this study will assist water resource and fisheries managers in adapting to stream temperature changes under a warming climate.

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Near real-time determination of B.1.1.7 in proportion to total SARS-CoV-2 viral load in wastewater using an allele-specific primer extension PCR strategy
Tyson E. Graber | Kamya Bhatnagar | Élisabeth Mercier | Meghan Fuzzen | Patrick M. D’Aoust | Huy-Dung Hoang | Xin Tian | Syeda Tasneem Towhid | Julio Plaza Diaz | Tommy Alain | Ainslie Butler | Lawrence Goodridge | Mark R. Servos | Robert Delatolla

Abstract The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has claimed millions of lives to date. Antigenic drift has resulted in viral variants with putatively greater transmissibility, virulence, or both. Early and near real-time detection of these variants of concern (VOC) and the ability to accurately follow their incidence and prevalence in communities is wanting. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), which uses nucleic acid amplification tests to detect viral fragments, is a faithful proxy of COVID-19 incidence and prevalence, and thus offers the potential to monitor VOC viral load in a given population. Here, we describe and validate a primer extension PCR strategy targeting a signature mutation in the N gene of SARS-CoV-2. This allows quantification of the proportional expression of B.1.1.7 versus non-B.1.1.7 alleles in wastewater without the need to employ quantitative RT-PCR standard curves. We show that the wastewater B.1.1.7 profile correlates with its clinical counterpart and benefits from a near real-time and facile data collection and reporting pipeline. This assay can be quickly implemented within a current SARS-CoV-2 WBE framework with minimal cost; allowing early and contemporaneous estimates of B.1.1.7 community transmission prior to, or in lieu of, clinical screening and identification. Our study demonstrates that this strategy can provide public health units with an additional and much needed tool to rapidly triangulate VOC incidence/prevalence with high sensitivity and lineage specificity.

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Operational and experimental snow observation systems in the upper Rofental: data from 2017–2020
Michael Warscher | Thomas Marke | Ulrich Strasser

Abstract. According to the living data process in ESSD, this publication presents extensions of a comprehensive hydrometeorological and glaciological data set for several research sites in the Rofental (1891–3772 m a.s.l., Ötztal Alps, Austria). Whereas the original dataset has been published in a first original version in 2018 (, the new time series presented here originate from meteorological and snow-hydrological recordings that have been collected from 2017 to 2020. Some data sets represent continuations of time series at existing locations, others come from new installations complementing the scientific monitoring infrastructure in the research catchment. Main extensions are a fully equipped automatic weather and snow monitoring station, as well as extensive additional installations to enable continuous observation of snow cover properties. Installed at three high Alpine locations in the catchment, these include automatic measurements of snow depth, snow water equivalent, volumetric solid and liquid water content, snow density, layered snow temperature profiles, and snow surface temperature. One station is extended by a particular arrangement of two snow depth and water equivalent recording devices to observe and quantify wind-driven snow redistribution. They are installed at nearby wind-exposed and sheltered locations and are complemented by an acoustic-based snow drift sensor. The data sets represent a unique time series of high-altitude mountain snow and meteorology observations. We present three years of data for temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and radiation fluxes from three meteorological stations. The continuous snow measurements are explored by combined analyses of meteorological and snow data to show typical seasonal snow cover characteristics. The potential of the snow drift observations are demonstrated with examples of measured wind speeds, snow drift rates and redistributed snow amounts in December 2019 when a tragic avalanche accident occurred in the vicinity of the station. All new data sets are provided to the scientific community according to the Creative Commons Attribution License by means of the PANGAEA repository (

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Diel streamflow cycles suggest more sensitive snowmelt-driven streamflow to climate change than land surface modeling
Sebastian A. Krogh | Lucia Scaff | Gary Sterle | James W. Kirchner | Beatrice Gordon | Adrian A. Harpold

Abstract. Climate warming may cause mountain snowpacks to melt earlier, reducing summer streamflow and threatening water supplies and ecosystems. Few observations allow separating rain and snowmelt contributions to streamflow, so physically based models are needed for hydrological predictions and analyses. We develop an observational technique for detecting streamflow responses to snowmelt using incoming solar radiation and diel (daily) cycles of streamflow. We measure the 20th percentile of snowmelt days (DOS20), across 31 watersheds in the western US, as a proxy for the beginning of snowmelt-initiated streamflow. Historic DOS20 varies from mid-January to late May, with warmer sites having earlier and more intermittent snowmelt-mediated streamflow. Mean annual DOS20 strongly correlates with the dates of 25 % and 50 % annual streamflow volume (DOQ25 and DOQ50, both R2 = 0.85), suggesting that a one-day earlier DOS20 corresponds with a one-day earlier DOQ25 and 0.7-day earlier DOQ50. Empirical projections of future DOS20 (RCP8.5, late 21st century), using space-for-time substitution, show that DOS20 will occur 11 ± 4 days earlier per 1 °C of warming, and that colder places (mean November–February air temperature, TNDJF <−8 °C) are 70 % more sensitive to climate change on average than warmer places (TNDJF > 0 °C). Moreover, empirical space-for-time based projections of DOQ25 and DOQ50 are about four and two times more sensitive to earlier streamflow than those from NoahMP-WRF. Given the importance of changing streamflow timing for headwater resources, snowmelt detection methods such as DOS20 based on diel streamflow cycles may constrain hydrological models and improve hydrological predictions.

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Cosmic-ray neutron method for the continuous measurement of Arctic snow accumulation and melt
Anton Jitnikovitch | Philip Marsh | Branden Walker | Darin Desilets

Abstract. The Arctic is warming at two to three times the rate of the global average, significantly impacting snow accumulation and melt. Unfortunately, conventional methods to measure snow water equivalent (SWE), a key aspect of the Arctic snow cover, have numerous limitations that hinder our ability to document annual cycles, the impact of climate change, or to test predictive models. As a result, there is an urgent need for improved methods that measure Arctic SWE; allow for continuous, unmanned measurements over the entire winter; and allow measurements that are representative of spatially variable, Arctic snow covers. In-situ, or invasive, cosmic ray neutron sensors (CRNSs) may fill this observational gap, but few studies have tested these types of sensors or considered their applicability at remote sites in the Arctic. During the winters of 2016/17 and 2017/18 we tested an in-situ CRNS system at two locations in Canada; a cold, low- to high-SWE environment in the Canadian Arctic and at a warm, low-SWE landscape in Southern Ontario that allowed easier access for validation purposes. CRNS moderated neutron counts were compared to manual snow survey SWE values obtained during both winter seasons. Pearson correlation coefficients ranged from −0.89 to −0.98, while regression analyses provided R2 values from 0.79 to 0.96. RMSE of the CRNS-measured SWE averaged 2 mm at the southern Ontario site and ranged from 28 to 40 mm at the Arctic site. These data show that in-situ CRNS instruments are able to continuously measure SWE with sufficient accuracy, and have important applications for measuring SWE in a variety of environments, including remote Arctic locations. These sensors can provide important SWE data for testing snow and hydrological models, water resource management applications, and the validation of remote-sensing applications.

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A Stochastic Modelling Approach to Forecast Real-time Ice Jam Flood Severity Along the Transborder (New Brunswick/Maine) Saint John River of North America
Apurba Das | Sujata Budhathoki | Karl–Erich Lindenschmidt

Abstract Ice jam floods (IJF) are a major concern for many riverine communities, government and non-government authorities and companies in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Ice jam related flooding can result in millions of dollars of property damages, loss of human life and adverse impacts on ecology. Ice jam flood forecasting is challenging as its formation mechanism is chaotic and depends on numerous unpredictable hydraulic and river ice factors. In this study, Modélisation environnementale communautaire – surface hydrology (MESH), a semi-distributed physically-based land-surface hydrological modelling system was used to acquire a 10-day flow forecast, an important boundary condition for any modelling of river ice-jam flood forecasting. A stochastic modelling approach was then applied to simulate hundreds of possible ice-jam scenarios using the hydrodynamic river ice model RIVICE within a Monte-Carlo Analysis (MOCA) framework for the Saint John River from Fort Kent to Grand Falls. First, a 10-day outlook was simulated to provide insight on the severity of ice jam flooding during spring breakup. Then, 3-day forecasts were modelled to provide longitudinal profiles of exceedance probabilities of ice jam flood staging along the river during the ice-cover breakup. Overall, results show that the stochastic approach performed well to estimate maximum probable ice-jam backwater level elevations for the spring 2021 breakup season.