Canada: Water deficits will persist in Ottawa-Gatineau

8 February 2019

The 12-month outlook for Canada through September 2019 indicates vast pockets of intense water deficit in the east as well as some large pockets nearly as intense elsewhere in the nation. Moderate to severe deficits are expected across southern portions of the Prairie Provinces. Areas of surplus include southeastern British Columbia and Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Intense deficits are forecast to encompass large blocks of the eastern half of the nation including in: Quebec from the Caniapiscau Reservoir to beyond Michikamau Lake in Labrador, near the Gulf of St. Lawrence, around Lake Mistassini, and the Gatineau River region near Ottawa; Ontario along the eastern border. Severe to exceptional deficits are also forecast for: northeastern Manitoba along Hudson Bay; the Upper and Middle Athabasca River region and northwestern Alberta; the Upper Fraser River Basin in British Columbia (BC), and the Skeena River region in northwestern BC.

The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The forecast through March indicates a pattern of anomalies similar to the prior three months. One notable change, however, is that deficits are expected to increase and intensify in southern Saskatchewan (SK), and to a lesser extent in southern Alberta (AB). Anomalies in southern SK will be severe to exceptional.

The overall pattern of persistent anomalies during this period includes the conditions that follow. Widespread, exceptional deficits are forecast across central Quebec (QC) into central Labrador, and intense deficits in southern QC in the Ottawa-Gatineau River region and across the border into Southern Ontario (ON). Intense deficits will also persist along the Ontario-Quebec border corridor, and in the Severn River region of northwestern ON. Surpluses are forecast in large pockets of the remaining area of ON, but conditions of both deficit and surplus are expected in some areas as transitions occur. In Manitoba (MB), intense deficits are forecast in the northeast around Hudson Bay and north of Lake Winnipeg; intense surpluses are expected in northwestern MB.

In Saskatchewan, deficits will increase and intensify in the south, as previously noted; intense, widespread surpluses are forecast in the northwest and across the border past Fort McMurray, AB. Intense deficits are forecast in AB in the Middle and Upper Reaches of the Athabasca River, and in the far northwest of the province. In BC, intense surpluses will persist in the southeast and moderate surpluses will increase in the southwest and emerge along the western coast. Intense surpluses will also persist in the northeast from Fort St. John westward past Williston Lake.

From April through June, exceptional deficits will shrink overall and will moderate in the Ottawa-Gatineau region of QC. Much of Northern Ontario will transition from surplus to moderate deficit, and deficits across the southern portions of the Prairie Provinces will moderate overall. Surpluses in southern BC are expected to shrink

The forecast for the final three months – July through September – indicates primarily deficits of varying severity across the nation, which will be severe to extreme in eastern QC and BC, and severe along the South Saskatchewan River in southern AB and SK. Moderate surpluses will emerge in southern QC from Ottawa to Montreal.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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