Glacier contribution to the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers
Comeau, Laura Elizabeth Lamplugh
The hydrological model WATFLOOD and a volume-area scaling relationship are applied to estimate glacier wastage and seasonal Melt contribution to the headwaters of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains from 1975-1998. Wastage is defined as the annual volume of glacier ice melt that exceeds the annual volume of snow accumulation into the glacier system, causing an annual net loss of glacier volume. Melt is defined as the annual volume of glacier ice melt that is equal to, or less than, the annual volume of snow that does not melt from the glacier and instead accumulates into the glacier system. It is proposed that the distinction between these two components of glacier runoff is important in studies of the impact of glacier variations on flow. A comparison of similar glacierised and non-glacierised basin hydrographs shows that glacierised basins have greater specific streamflow in the late summer months of otherwise low flow, and the presence of glaciers in a basin results in a lower coefficient of variation of the July to September and annual streamflow as a result of the natural regulating impact of glaciers on streamflow. Glacier wastage and Melt are estimated from a hydrological-hypsometric comparison of glacierised and non-glacierised basins, mass balance data from Peyto Glacier and the published work of other researchers. The similarity of these results to those from the volume-area scaling approach indicates that this is a suitable method for estimating glacier wastage on a regional scale. Whilst the WATFLOOD results were similar to those from the hydrological-hypsometric approach regionally, there were considerable differences between the estimates of combined glacier wastage and Melt from different methods in the small, highly glacierised Peyto Glacier basin. The WATFLOOD results, and thus the estimates of Melt, are therefore treated with caution and it is proposed that glacier runoff data is collected with which to improve the model calibration, verify results and make uncertainty estimations, currently prevented by the severe lack of data on glaciers in the North and South Saskatchewan River basins. The results show that glacier wastage was smaller than Melt and varied between glaciers, though contributed over 10% to streamflow in a number of basins in the July to September period 1975-1998. Melt was positively correlated with basin glacier cover and contributed over 25% to streamflow from basins with glacier cover as little as 1% in the July to September period. The significance of Melt is manifest in its timing since it is equal to the annual volume of snow that accumulates into the glacier system, the volume of which melts as ice instead of snow thus entering the stream in the later summer months after snowmelt. Future glacier decline is therefore expected to result in an advancement of peak flow towards a snowmelt regime hydrograph, assuming that post glacial basin conditions do not similarly delay snowmelt runoff. The resulting reduced late summer flow, compounded by decreasing wastage contributions, is a concern for agricultural and industrial streamflow users, such as hydropower plants, and threatens ecological habitats. Downstream at Edmonton and Calgary, glacier wastage contributed approximately 3% of streamflow 1975-1998; however, Melt supplied over double this volume of flow thus the concern here is whether reservoir capacities are large enough to store a sufficient volume of the spring peak flow to meet supply needs in the late summer months of decreasing flows.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
Supervisorde Boer, Dirk H.
CommitteePietroniro, Alain; Guo, Xulin; Elshorbagy, Amin A.; Pomeroy, John W.