Our broad research interests include process-based hydrology, GIS-based hydrology, precipitation-runoff modeling, hydrometric and meteorological data monitoring, chemical and isotopic tracer studies and prediction in ungauged basins. Below is a non-exhaustive list of currently active projects. Information about other active projects can be found under the “News and Blog” tab.
Runoff generation in response to specific snowmelt or rainfall events
Prairie watersheds are complex landscapes where runoff routing is rarely driven by slope gradient but rather controlled by sheet flow on frozen ground, water losses in high infiltration capacity soils, slough and wetland connectivity, and enhanced drainage via man-made structures. Our investigations therefore aim to compare the relative importance of surface and subsurface flow processes in the runoff regime of Prairie watersheds. We just initiated a research project with Environment Canada to quantify dynamic overland flow connectivity and revise the delineation of runoff contributing areas – which vary on an event, seasonal and annual basis – in the downstream portion of Lake Winnipeg Watershed.
Relative influence of legacy and contemporary nutrient sources on surface water quality
Nutrient loadings are important in many Manitoba streams; however it is unclear whether loadings that are currently recorded are attributable to contemporary sources or rather to legacy sources with historical build-ups of soil chemicals being slowly released into surface waters. We seek to differentiate those sources in several Manitoba streams in order to understand how natural landscape features and man-made modifications might explain how slowly or fast contaminants are flushed out of watersheds.
Spatial variability of watershed mean transit times
Understanding how quickly surface and subsurface runoff travels and which paths it takes to reach streams and rivers is critical for flood management and diffuse pollution mitigation. With that respect, the computation of the watershed mean transit time is helpful as it tells us the time that a drop of water takes to move through a watershed. Watershed mean transit times can also be used as proxy measures for contaminant persistence but they are highly variable in space as a function of landscape features. Studying transit times across a range of Manitoba watersheds will therefore improve our understanding of how differently they behave.
Classification, resistance and resilience of Prairie watersheds
The response of Prairie watersheds to extreme climatic events is the result of a complex interplay between their natural configuration, their changing land-use and their stormwater-control structures that can either enhance or impede movement of water, sediments and nutrients downstream. We are currently building a database of 500+ Manitoba watersheds and assessing their degree of similarity or dissimilarity based on topography, geology, land use, drainage system and flow regime. We are also computing statistical indicators to estimate the relative ability of those watersheds to maintain their current runoff dynamics in spite of predicted future climate changes.
Coupled hydrological and biogeochemical characterization of artificially drained watersheds
We focus on watersheds (e.g., Catfish Creek, Elm Creek, LaSalle River) that are typical of the Manitoba landscape in that they are drained by natural creeks and creeks but also by (and mostly) by a series of man-made drains and road ditches. Our overall aim is to describe the movements of water, sediments and contaminants through those watersheds during the late spring, summer and fall seasons (May to November). Specifically, hydrological thresholds will be quantified and land-to-stream connectivity will be monitored to determine the origin of the water, sediments, nutrients and pesticides found in man-made drains and road ditches.
Critical assessment criteria to identify priority areas for wetland conservation and restoration
We have started a project funded by the Water Stewardship Fund (Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship) and Lake Winnipeg Basin Stewardship Fund and in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to establish scientific criteria for determining priority areas for wetland conservation and restoration. These criteria will be developed based on the topographic, hydrological and biogeochemical characteristics of different wetlands so as to take into account their ability to: (a) remain disconnected from waterways; (b) attenuate flood waves; and (c) retain excess nutrients.
Identification of an optimal sampling frequency to monitor water quality in Prairie watersheds
Water quality monitoring programs are generally based on low frequency sampling regimes, with grab samples of river water collected on a weekly, fortnightly, monthly or seasonal basis. Diffuse transfers of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, have however been shown to occur on the scale of hours rather than days, and they are thought to have a better chance of being captured with high frequency sampling. The broad objective of this project is to suggest an optimal water quality sampling strategy for agricultural Prairie regions by comparing the information content of phosphate concentration data obtained under high (sub-daily), medium (daily), low (weekly) and extremely low (monthly) frequency monitoring schemes. This project is funded by the University of Manitoba.