Climate change resilience: High-tech snowpack monitoring proposed for Metro Vancouver watersheds

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      Metro Vancouver is looking to modernize the monitoring of snowpack in the region’s watersheds.

      The adoption of cutting-edge technology is seen as a way for the regional government to better manage water supply in the face of changing conditions brought about by climate change.

      A report included in the agenda of the Greater Vancouver Water District on Friday (February 22)  recommends examining remote sensing technologies.

      Drinking water comes from rainfall and snowmelt that collect in the three watersheds managed by the regional government: Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam.

      Inder Singh, director of policy, planning and analysis with the region’s water services department, notes in the report that new technology involves “using the latest available satellite imagery and snow algorithms, land-based and aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) surveys, and additional manual snow observations to develop methods to improve the spatial resolution of snowpack data”.

      “Enhancing and modernizing the snowpack monitoring program will improve Metro Vancouver’s watershed hydrological models and water supply forecasts,” according to Singh. “These program enhancements will also allow Metro Vancouver to more effectively adapt to climate change and continue to manage the water supply in a sustainable and progressive manner.”

      Singh’s report recommends a $160,000 funding for two years starting in 2019 for next-generation snowpack monitoring.

      A summary for the proposal states that the measure will produce “more accurate snow water equivalent to be used for water supply planning, research, climate change monitoring, and education”.

      It will also reduce “reliance on manual observations over time, which will result in a safer more cost effective snow monitoring program”.

      “Detailed snow data can then be used to advocate for water conservation or changes in current water supply planning targets,” according to the summary.