Power demands in Yukon are largely met through hydroelectric generation. Runoff from the headwaters of the Yukon, Aishihik, and Mayo rivers are an important territorial resource. Sound water management and planning is required to ensure future hydro-electric security, but there is currently significant uncertainty regarding the response of the river's flow to climate change. Our Climate Change Research team, formally known as the Northern Climate ExChange has led a series of projects to explore methods that make the best use of the limited meteorological data and direct observations that are available.
Outcomes from these projects will establish appropriate monitoring networks and develop predictive tools for Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC), that will form the basis of climate-related risk assessment and management strategies. These tools will allow YEC to operate hydropower facilities more efficiently under various demand scenarios, which is of key economic importance for YEC and Yukon, where a growing economy demands secure power resources.
These projects involve students from Yukon University, thus contributing to the development of highly qualified personnel with valuable experience in Canada's North. Ultimately, the research projects improve our understanding of, and preparedness for, the impacts of climate change in northern Canada, which is of vital importance for continued economic prosperity in Yukon, and in northern Canada.
The initial project ran in 2011/12 and focused on the Llewellyn Glacier as a key water source for the Yukon River. A second Yukon River project began in 2012 and will last until December 2016. This project expanded from the Llewellyn to include the entire Yukon River headwaters above Whitehorse Dam. A third project began in September 2016. This project has developed hydrologic modelling tools for the Aishihik, Mayo and the Yukon River.
Dr. Jos Samuel, Postdoctoral Fellow, YukonU Research Centre
Brian Horton, Manager, Climate Change Research (formerly Northern Climate ExChange), YukonU Research Centre
Maciej Stetkiewicz, Project Coordinator, YukonU Research Centre, Climate Change Research (formerly Northern Climate ExChange)
Dr. Bronwyn Hancock, Manager, Associate Vice-President, Research Development, YukonU Research Centre
Jeffrey Kavanaugh, Adjunct Faculty, Yukon University; Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta
Chris DeBeer, Research Associate, YukonU Research Centre,
Bob Sagar, Climate Change Research (formerly Northern Climate ExChange), YukonU Research Centre
- Northern Climate ExChange, 2014. Projected Future Changes in Glaciers and their Contribution to Discharge of the Yukon River at Whitehorse. Northern Climate ExChange, YukonU Research Centre, Yukon University, Whitehorse, YT, 44 p.
- Hydrosecurity of the Yukon River Watershed – A collaborative research project with Yukon Energy Corporation, B. Horton, Samuel, Jos, J. Kavanaugh, S. Laxton, B. Benkert, M. Samolczyk
- Samuel, J., J. Kavanaugh, B. Benkert, M. Samolczyck, S. Laxton, R. Evans, S. Saal, J. Gonet, B. Horton, J. Clague, Z. Harmer and L. Kinnear. 2016. Evaluating climate change impacts on the upper Yukon River basin: Projecting future conditions using glacier, climate and hydrological models. Whitehorse, Yukon: Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre