Cold Matters

Cold Matters is a vital and approachable work that distills the scientific complexities of snow, ice, water and climate and presents the global implications of research put forth and funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. This timely book gives the concerned reader an opportunity to take part in the conversation about our global environment in a way that transcends traditional scientific journals, textbooks, public talks or newspaper articles that are so often ignored or forgotten. In the end, Cold Matters will change the way you think about ice and snow.

The impassioned narrative and sophisticated illustrations found within the pages of Robert Sandford’s latest work offer ecologically and globally minded citizens an understanding of the behaviour of our ever-changing climate system and its effect on cold environments in western Canada over the past 400 years. Using revolutionary prediction scenarios to model glaciers and glacier meltwater in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Yukon, NWT and throughout the world, Cold Matters presents a clear snapshot of how altered ecosystems will impact future climates, urban centres and agricultural landscapes.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Cold Matters 1
Contents 7
Preface 9
Introduction 15
Chapter 1 23
The Roots of Hydrological Modelling in Canada 26
The Cold Regions Model and CFCAS: A Decade of Advancement in Canadian Climate Science 29
What is Parameterization? 33
Building a Model that Never Stops Learning 35
How to Handle All That Data 45
Hydrology, Glaciology and Snowmelt 51
The ISNOBAL Mountain Snowmelt Model 57
Modelling the North and the Prairies … 62
… and Confronting the Politics of Parameters 63
Coming to Grips with Extreme Complexity 64
Chapter 2 67
WC2N 69
WC2N and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site 71
Glacier Recession: The Global as Represented in the Local 72
Glacier Loss in the Mountain Parks 74
Glacier Loss in Alberta’s Provincial Parks 76
Extending the Record Further Back in Time 77
What the Research Tells Us 78
What Is the Fate of Our Glaciers? 81
Peering into the Future of the Mountain West: St. Elias Mountains, Yukon 87
A Picturesque Drive to the Time of Ice 92
Why Snow Dome is Important … 99
… and How Things are Changing in the Mountains 101
Chapter 3 107
Modelling the Physics of Snow 108
Much Depends on Coldness 111
Snow Matters 114
The Ultimate Snowblower 119
Modelling Snow that Doesn’t Reach the Ground 124
Reflecting on Snow: The Albedo of Clear-cuts 128
How Much Water is on Deposit in that Snowbank? 131
Studying Snow at Marmot Creek 134
What Happens When Snow Melts? 137
The Importance of Marmot Lab 138
Chapter 4 141
Planetary-scale Water Transfers as an “Orderly Market” 144
The Importance of Sea Ice 178
Climate Change and Permafrost: A North Coming Unglued 181
The Glaciology of Climate Change: The Arctic–Alpine Link 186
When the Mortar of Mountains Melts Away 190
IP3 in NWT and Yukon: Figuring Out Where “Square 1” Is 193
Flying on Instruments: Climate Modelling Needs Climate Monitoring 199
Chapter 5 205
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment 206
James Lovelock and the Importance of Monitoring 208
Abandoning Stationarity: Nature Always Has “Pushed the Envelope” 210
Dealing with Hydrologic Non-Stationarity 215
The Consequences of Lost Stability 217
Chapter 6 221
How Northerners are Adapting 224
Climate change and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge 225
Nordicity: Cold is Cultural 227
Cold Also Matters as a Water-Storage Medium 230
Science to the Rescue 233
When Democratic Government Actually Governs: Mitigating Climate Change with Sound Water Policy in NWT 234
FLOW’s Recommendations for Even Further Policy Improvement 238
Chapter 7 243
The Value of the Science to the Private Sector: The BC Hydro Business Case 247
The Spin-Off Benefits of Good Research 252
Continuing the Work of the IP3 &WC²N Research Networks 253
The Relevance of IP3 and WC²N Research Outcomes 254
Toward the Future 257
Further Reading 261
Index 263
About the Author 271