Toward an Operational Water Cycle Prediction System for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River

D. Durnford Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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V. Fortin Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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G. C. Smith Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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B. Archambault Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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D. Deacu Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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F. Dupont Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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S. Dyck Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Y. Martinez Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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E. Klyszejko Water Survey of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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M. MacKay Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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L. Liu Water Survey of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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P. Pellerin Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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A. Pietroniro Water Survey of Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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Abstract

In this time of a changing climate, it is important to know whether lake levels will rise, potentially causing flooding, or river flows will dry up during abnormally dry weather. The Great Lakes region is the largest freshwater lake system in the world. Moreover, agriculture, industry, commerce, and shipping are active in this densely populated region. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recently implemented the Water Cycle Prediction System (WCPS) over the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed (WCPS-GLS version 1.0) following a decade of research and development. WCPS, a network of linked models, simulates the complete water cycle, following water as it moves from the atmosphere to the surface, through the river network and into lakes, and back to the atmosphere. Information concerning the water cycle is passed between the models. WCPS is the first short-to-medium-range prediction system of the complete water cycle to be run on an operational basis anywhere. It currently produces two forecasts per day for the next three days. WCPS generally provides reliable results throughout the length of the forecast. The transmission of errors between the component models is reduced by data assimilation. Interactions between the environmental compartments are active. This ongoing intercommunication is valuable for extreme events such as rapid ice freeze-up and flooding or drought caused by abnormal amounts of precipitation. Products include precipitation; evaporation; lake water levels, temperatures, and currents; ice cover; and river flows. These products are of interest to a wide variety of governmental, commercial, and industrial groups, as well as the public.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dorothy Durnford, dorothy.durnford@canada.ca;

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0155.2)

Abstract

In this time of a changing climate, it is important to know whether lake levels will rise, potentially causing flooding, or river flows will dry up during abnormally dry weather. The Great Lakes region is the largest freshwater lake system in the world. Moreover, agriculture, industry, commerce, and shipping are active in this densely populated region. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recently implemented the Water Cycle Prediction System (WCPS) over the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed (WCPS-GLS version 1.0) following a decade of research and development. WCPS, a network of linked models, simulates the complete water cycle, following water as it moves from the atmosphere to the surface, through the river network and into lakes, and back to the atmosphere. Information concerning the water cycle is passed between the models. WCPS is the first short-to-medium-range prediction system of the complete water cycle to be run on an operational basis anywhere. It currently produces two forecasts per day for the next three days. WCPS generally provides reliable results throughout the length of the forecast. The transmission of errors between the component models is reduced by data assimilation. Interactions between the environmental compartments are active. This ongoing intercommunication is valuable for extreme events such as rapid ice freeze-up and flooding or drought caused by abnormal amounts of precipitation. Products include precipitation; evaporation; lake water levels, temperatures, and currents; ice cover; and river flows. These products are of interest to a wide variety of governmental, commercial, and industrial groups, as well as the public.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dorothy Durnford, dorothy.durnford@canada.ca;

A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0155.2)

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