Glacier loss to impact Alberta water supply

The loss of glaciers due to climate change is likely to mean late-summer water shortages for more than one million Albertans, according to a new study.

It’s predicted Western Canada will see a 70 to 90 per cent glacier loss by 2100, and that will impact Alberta’s water supply, notably the Bighorn Dam (about 100 kilometres west of Rocky Mountain House). The University of British Columbia study looked at water flow for 194 rivers across the province and how that changed over the summer. Glacier-fed rivers have more stable water flows.

“In a very hot and dry year, there would be more glacier melt in the river, which kind of counteracts the lack of rain,” said lead author Sam Anderson, a PhD candidate and an Alberta native. These rivers “won’t run dry” when the glaciers are gone, but communities will have to adopt new water management practices, he said.

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