Iqaluit could start running out of fresh water by 2024

climate
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Without action, the supply of fresh water in Iqaluit will begin to dwindle by 2024 due to climate change and increased demand, research led by York University has found.

"Extreme climates make the management of fresh difficult, but add change to the mix, along with too few financial and human resources, and northern cities, such as Iqaluit could run out of fresh water," said Andrew Medeiros of York U who led the research.

Even if population growth remains stagnant, current climate change projections show demand will outstrip supply for freshwater in the Arctic community, said Medeiros, a research fellow for York University's Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. However, as Iqaluit is a growing city, the pressure on water resources will only increase.

So far, various methods of increasing freshwater supply only helped to extend it for a couple of years. Medeiros and his team used novel hydrologic modelling and climate forecasting methods looking ahead 20 years. Their forecasting included the possibility of diverting water from the nearby Apex River, something the city plans to do to help solve the water shortage problem.

The researchers found the primary source of renewal for the Apex River is rainwater with little evaporation, which means it could be used as an alternative source of freshwater on a seasonal basis. However, long term it would not solve the issue as it would only extend the water supply by two years even if only 10 per cent is diverted as recommended by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"The availability, quality and security of freshwater in the Canadian Arctic an increasingly pressing issue," said Medeiros. The research highlights the need to address end-of-winter water shortages, due to climate change, with over winter replenishment. Otherwise consumption restrictions would be necessary.

As it is now, many northern Canadian communities rely on a single, small shallow lake reservoir or seasonal replenishment systems for their freshwater that are not always sustainable, especially as the climate warms in the Arctic. Temperatures in the Arctic have increased close to twice the global rate and are expected to further increase. "Arctic lakes are especially vulnerable to ," says Medeiros.

His team's forecasting and modelling has provided municipal planners and engineers in Iqaluit with information on how climate will affect their area's freshwater supply, and how long current sources of water are likely to last, so that they can better plan for the future. "Hydrologic monitoring tools for freshwater municipal planning in the Arctic: The case of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada" is published today in the journal of Environmental Science and Pollution Research.


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More information: Michael Bakaic et al, Hydrologic monitoring tools for freshwater municipal planning in the Arctic: the case of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, Environmental Science and Pollution Research (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s11356-017-9343-4
Provided by York University
Citation: Iqaluit could start running out of fresh water by 2024 (2017, June 12) retrieved 26 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-06-iqaluit-fresh.html
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Jun 12, 2017
Without action, the supply of fresh water in Iqaluit will begin to dwindle by 2024 due to climate change and increased demand

Should say
Without action, the supply of fresh water in Iqaluit will begin to dwindle by 2024 due to increased demand

You're welcome.

You know what resource planners do when they project that the population will outstrip water resources? They develop new resources or implement conservation measures. They don't blame the rest of the world for their problem and demand international treaties, global action, and international aid to fix their local problem. Adaptation: what (reasonable) humans are good at.

Jun 13, 2017
Should say
No it should not. The authors supported their assertion that
Arctic lakes are especially vulnerable to climate change,
So their sentence is very reasonable.
They don't blame the rest of the world for their problem and demand international treaties, global action, and international aid
Climate change is of course a problem that affects us all - often the poor worse than the wealthy countries - so it seems very reasonable to me to put our heads together - and work on solutions together. http://www.climat...ly-21522

Jun 13, 2017
>A changing climate is the earths natural state,
Of course it is. But of course it usually happens on much larger time scales, and rapid shifts often accompany significant extinctions. The earth, and life on it, and even human life will absolutely survive climate change. Scientists aren't saying it won't.

What they are saying is that it's going to cost a lot more to maintain our existing settlements and living conditions. Cities that were built on coasts and rivers for trade historically may be damaged by rising sea levels and increased storms more than they have historically. Paying to mitigate those events and to clean up after disasters will continue to be costly, if it is affordable at all in some regions. (To say nothing of the human losses of health and life along the way, just speaking strictly economically here)

Jun 13, 2017
Paying to mitigate those events and to clean up after disasters will continue to be costly

Not to mention that humans have, traditionally migrated away from regions that become inhospitable (en masse). What this will mean in terms of instability/wars is anyone's guess.

An ounce of prevention...

And it's not like there aren't benefits from making these changes.
- better health/cleaner environment
- less reliance on foreign resources (which in turn means less international conflicts)
- less immigration (for those scared of all those foreigners that's actually a bonus)
- indefinitely sustainable energy sources

What's not to like?

Jun 13, 2017
bschott
So climate change projections call for desertification of the arctic now? Otherwise, how is climate change contributing to arctic water deficiency?
Maybe you could read the article
many northern Canadian communities rely on a single, small shallow lake reservoir or seasonal replenishment systems for their freshwater that are not always sustainable, especially as the climate warms

Jun 13, 2017
bschott
Maybe you could address how increased glacial melt and increased precipitation due to climate change exacerbate a water shortage.
As a non scientist - typing on my keyboard in my office - I do not claim to have personal experience of the arctic. There are scientists who are first hand researchers - and I would expect that Medieros fits this bill - as " a research fellow for York University's Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies" What is your experience of the Arctic? Now - there is plenty of research out there that will help you understand that melting glaciers can jeopardize water supplies - https://www.voane...428.html cont.

Jun 13, 2017
cont. A quote from that one article I quickly googled -
The problem is that glacial lakes are often fragile structures, created when rocks and rubble carried by a glacier form a moraine that dams up its water outflow. The dam can also be created by chunks of a glacier's own ice. These inherently unstable structures can collapse quickly,
But again I ask you - what is your experience of the Arctic - that gives you superior knowledge to these researchers - that you can directly contradict what they assert? - based on what?

Jun 14, 2017
but you can no more pay to mitigate weather than you can to mitigate earthquakes

We are talking climate here - not weather.
The difference is that to defend against climate levees will have to be built for every coastal city or entire neighborhoods will have to be abandoned (Look to New Orleans how much that cost - and that was just for one city)

Canada, 8000 trees per person, CO2 environmental loading

Trees are a zero sum game in terms of carbon. Even with some increased growth in the short that must top out (growth is not only limited by CO2 but also by availability of water, area and sunlight) - but if you keep dumping more CO2 into the atmosphere from other sources then anyone who has passed first grade math can tell you that that is not an indefinitely tenable situation.

Jun 14, 2017
In the longer term, post-glacial isostatic rebound will continue to change the topography, perhaps changing the drainage pattern. Head-water stealing can have dramatic effects, leaving previously powerful rivers as cropped remnants. Hard to say what will happen as the seasonal permafrost zone deepens, losing its grip on the sub-surface...

IIRC, as in Finland & Northern Scandinavia, the isostatic rebound rate is gradually slowing, but shallow Hudson Bay continues to shrink. What numbers I've found shouldn't leave that 'high & dry'; more likely a 'low and wet' marsh, then peat-bog due silting.
D'uh, sounds like the very worst 'biting fly country'-- Be NOT There !!

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