North

Researchers to monitor climate change effect on Yukon River

Researchers are beginning a monitoring program in the headwaters of the Yukon River aimed at predicting the impact of climate change on the river.

Stations being installed on the glaciers which feed the river

Researchers will try to track the effects of climate change on the river by using these new monitoring stations. (istockphoto)

Researchers are beginning a monitoring program in the headwaters of the Yukon River aimed at predicting the impact of climate change on the river.

The project is being coordinated by the Northern Climate Exchange at Yukon College and funded by Yukon Energy.

Jeff Kavanaugh, an associate professor at the University of Alberta, is leading the research into the effects of climate change.

He said monitoring stations are being installed on the glaciers which feed the Yukon River.

"Essentially it's due diligence practice to look at the potential impacts of climate change on the ability to generate hydro-electric power," he said.

Kavanaugh added that climate change is well known in the North.

"But what isn't known is the impact on snowfall, and on what will fall - snow versus rain - and the timing of that snowfall and the timing of the melt of that snowfall."

Kavanaugh said part of the research will sort out which changes are caused by long-term shifts in the climate, and which are caused by more temporary patterns such as El Nino and La Nina.

Yukon Energy said the information will help it respond to future environmental changes.

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