Special Homecoming Cutting Edge Lecture
By John Pomeroy (FRSC Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Geography & Planning, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, Director, University of Saskatchewan Centre for Hydrology).
Dr. Pomeroy is the winner of the 2020 Miroslaw Romanowski Medal from the Royal Society of Canada. This medal is awarded for contributions towards the resolution of scientific aspects of environmental problems or for important improvements to the quality of an ecosystem in all aspects - terrestrial, atmospheric and aqueous - brought about by scientific means.
Canada and the world are faced with unprecedented water-related challenges. Climate warming and human actions are altering precipitation patterns, reducing snow levels, accelerating glacier melting, intensifying floods, and increasing risk of droughts, while pollution from population growth and industrialization is degrading water systems. Canada has some of the world's highest rates of climate warming along with associated extreme weather, together they impact infrastructure, institutions, ecosystems and human health. Half of the world's population and all of Canada are dependent upon water from rapidly warming cold regions. More are impacted by the effects of rapid and often poorly regulated development on the sources of their freshwater supply. With such unprecedented change, it is clear that the historical patterns of water availability are no longer a reliable guide for the future. To address the societal needs for freshwater prediction, new modeling tools that capture these interconnected forces and their societal implications have been coupled to monitoring systems with greater capacity to warn of critical environmental changes, and more effective mechanisms to translate new scientific knowledge into societal action. The results show how Canada can lead the world in forecasting, preparing for and managing water futures in the face of dramatically increasing risks.