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TitleInvited commentary: a Framework for Integrated Research and Monitoring (FIRM)
AuthorSpence, C; Hamilton, S; Whitfield, P; Demuth, M N; Harvey, D; Hutchinson, D; Davison, B; Ouarda, T B M J; Deveau, J G; Goertz, H; Pomeroy, J W; Marsh, P
SourceCanadian Water Resources Journal vol. 34, no. 1, 2009 p. 1-6, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20080650
PublisherInforma UK Limited
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceCanada; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-141.0000 -50.0000 90.0000 41.7500
Subjectshydrogeology; Nature and Environment; science policy; water quality; groundwater; climatic fluctuations; water circulation patterns
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Earth Science for National Scale Characterization of Climate Change Impacts on Canada's Landmass
Released2009 01 01
AbstractWater managers in Canada are tasked with maintaining clean, adequate, safe supplies for human uses while at the same time conserving the ecological integrity of the freshwater ecosystems that sustain the economy. This task requires strategic efforts that can ensure Canadians are able to understand and predict the cleanliness, availability and renewability of their water resource. The vast majority of the time, water professionals are able to make wise and informed decisions in regards to engineering design, environmental assessment and water allocation. However, numerous popular publications highlight the uncertainty faced by Canadian institutions with respect to managing Canada's water (Bakker, 2007; Hoover et al., 2007, Morris et al., 2007). For example, why could we not reliably predict and prevent the travel of contaminants through pathways to source waters in Walkerton in 2000 or North Battleford in 2001? Why can we not characterize the mean annual flood across much of the Arctic Archipelago; an area of increasing importance for the country? Why can we not expeditiously explain the recent record low water levels in the upper Great Lakes with confidence? Recognition of change in the climate and landscape presents challenges as we now need to address some of the long held assumptions in our methodologies - notably that of stationarity.

In a recent commentary in this journal, Hamilton and Whitfield (2008), call for a new approach to how Canada generates understanding of its water resources. For much of the 20th century, the focus was on description of the spatial distribution and temporal availability of the quantity and quality of water rather than understanding the processes that created the observed patterns. However, as resources have become scarcer due to availability or quality limitations, water managers' demands are no longer satisfied with reports of mere abundance or state. In the dynamic operating environment of the 21st century, where we all recognize that complex landscape changes and climatic variability have an impact on water, an understanding of biogeophysical processes is needed. Without an understanding of hydrological and aquatic ecological processes we cannot possibly make informed decisions about how water resources will change under different conditions.

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