Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Gordon J. Young

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Snow and ice meltwater constitutes a significant portion of westem Canada's water resources for residential, industrial and agricultural uses. As a consequence, temporal variations in climate will have a marked effect on the local hydrology of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, especially as glaciers, glacierettes and snow packs decrease in size or melt out. It is therefore very important for hydrologists to accurately understand the climatic sensitivity of glacierized watersheds in order to predict and prepare for potentially dramatic variations in the future water budget. This thesis proposes a methodology for the estimation of the hydrological response of a large, temperate, glacierized basin to predicted climatic change. The historical hydrologic signature of the upper Bow Valley (2226 km) was estimated by calibrating the UBC Watershed Model to the basin using observed streamflows and meteorological data from 1950 to 1990. The areal glacier extents for the Upper Bow Valley between 1950 and 1990 were estimated based on observed trends of glacier recession in the Hector Basin. The calibration file for hydrologic year 1969 proved to be most successful, and thus was chosen for the climatic sensitivity analysis. A series of climatic scenarios were drafted based on several general circulation model predictions. In addition, glacier areas were adjusted to simulate a 30% and 62% reduction (from 1993 estimates) in glacier area based on the observed trend in Hector Basin. The UBC Model was forced with the scenarios using the original 1969 calibration file. The scenarios were also tested against calibration files that had the glacier area adjusted to simulate estimated future extents. Results indicate that a shifting of the winter/summer discharge ratio of the Bow River above Banff will occur with a warmer climate. The reduction of glacier area reduces the potential for meltwater production in the summer, and warmer temperatures will cause earlier ablation of the winter snowpack and prolonged and enhanced evapotranspiration during the melt season.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Hydrology Commons