The IPCC has indicated that on a global scale, climate variability will increase including more frequent extreme events and generally more drought conditions. Understanding the effect of climate change is critical in the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies. The headwaters of these watersheds are located in alpine regions and supply much of the water for southern Alberta including large urban centres, industrial complexes and vast areas of farm land. Competition is acute and many of the watersheds are under water stress. As part of the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) under the Land-use Framework, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), is working to understand how natural landscape elements and land use capacity (e.g., for agriculture, forestry, recreation and tourism and settlement) would change under different water availability conditions derived from different climate scenarios. The linkages between climate, water and LUCC in the SSRP are complex. As such AERSD would like to further develop current models to improve understanding of this link as one of the drivers of land use and land cover change (LUCC) in the SSRP.
Novus Environmental was hired by AESRD to provide support in the search for a suitable tool to simulate the impact of changes in temperature and precipitation patterns and water availability, associated with various climate change scenarios, on land use/cover changes in the SSRP area. The Novus team applied its leading edge knowledge of climate, water and land use modelling to provide a review of current and historical data sources and recent literature and develop a short list of hydrological and LULC models based on limitations of the data, the meteorological and spatial challenges of the study area as well as capabilities, ease of use and accessibility of models. Novus also provided recommendations for a modelling approach and a short list of models as a starting point for development of an integrated modelling approach for the SSRP.