Posted in | Climate Change

Comprehensive Database can Help Assess the Consequences of Climate Change on Water Resources

Scientists across the globe have now access to a database of meteorological, hydrometric, and physiographic data called HYSETS. This database would allow them to record the consequences of climate change on regional water resources in a much better way.

Richard Arsenault, professor of construction engineering and a member of the Hydrology, Climate, and Climate Change Laboratory (HC3), at ÉTS, who spearheaded the project. Image Credit: Lino Cipresso.

The database was produced by a team of researchers at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), which includes 70 years’ worth of information on 14,425 watersheds located in North America.

Given the diversity of its data and the number of regions documented, HYSETS will allow you to develop models for virtually any type of climate,” explained Richard Arsenault, professor of construction engineering and a member of the Hydrology, Climate, and Climate Change Laboratory (HC3) at ÉTS, who headed the study. Such ready-to-use data are freely available and can be downloaded from https://osf.io/rpc3w/.

Normally, we have to draw the data we need from several different databases, then filter them before being able to use them to create a reliable model. This task must be repeated each time we want to create a model. We thought it would be a good idea to create a huge database with ready-to-use data that could serve the entire scientific community.

Richard Arsenault, Professor of Construction Engineering, École de technologie supérieure

What Makes HYSETS Different?

HYSETS is different from other prevailing databases for a number of reasons.

The first reason is the number of watersheds described by HYSETS: although a majority of the existing datasets are based on a sample of about 800 watersheds, HYSETS considers as many as 14,425 watersheds. With regard to the few databases of greater size—which at times contain up to 30,000 watersheds—they include just a single category of data (for instance: hydrometric data or weather data, but never both together) which is believed to be a major flaw.

By contrast, HYSETS contains physiographic, meteorological, and hydrometric data from different sources and also from three countries in North America. This diversity is quite handy, if not necessary, to further interpret the propagation of uncertainties in water resource management chains.

Another prominent fact is that the HYSETS data spans a long period of time, right from 1950 to 2018. The database will be augmented every year with the data obtained from the previous year. This approach would make it extremely useful for analyzing past as well as more recent modifications in hydroclimatic variables over different North American regions.

Last but not the least, the HYSETS database can be utilized as a test environment for a variety of applications, such as hydrological modeling.

With various datasets available on precipitation and temperatures, the database can help fix the biases seen in regional and global climate models.

The HYSETS database is an irrefutable asset for scientists focused on hydrology, climate, and environmental sciences because it makes it easier to create models using a considerable number of areas. Furthermore, present- studies depend increasingly on large-scale data to consider the instabilities generated by climate change.

Journal Reference:

Arsenault, R., et al. (2020) A comprehensive, multisource database for hydrometeorological modeling of 14,425 North American watersheds. Scientific Data. doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-00583-2.

Source: https://www.etsmtl.ca/en/home

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