Hydrological mass balance of boreal watersheds in the Canadian Shield - Mines Saint-Étienne Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Hydrology Year : 2022

Hydrological mass balance of boreal watersheds in the Canadian Shield


This study aims at evaluating the hydrological balance of large watersheds of the Canadian Shield in the James Bay area in Northwestern Quebec, Canada. The focus is set on six rivers of the Canadian Shield altogether draining more than 185,000 km2 of the Boreal Shield, Taiga Shield and Hudson Plains ecozones of Canada. River discharge measurements, geochemical data (δ2H, δ18O and electrical conductivity [EC] of water), remote sensing, and GIS models are used jointly to calculate water balances. The approach allows for partitioning the influence of rainwater, snowmelt, surface runoff, evaporation, transpiration, and groundwater discharge to the hydrological balances of watersheds. On an annual basis, the results suggest that runoff from rainwater (30–61 % of total precipitation) and snowmelt (18–40 % of total precipitation) are the main contributions to river discharge, while the contribution of groundwater discharge to rivers represents < 12 % of the total precipitation. Over the study area, this contribution represents 2–5 km3 of water. The stable isotope mass balances allow for estimating watershed-scale evaporation over inflow ratios ranging between 2 and 10 % and suggest that transpiration has an isotopic composition close to summer rainwater. The hydrological balances further suggest that the total pool of water stored in the active portion of watersheds represents 10–20 % of the total annual precipitation, while the exports of groundwater beyond the limits of surface watersheds are negligible. The seasonal trends in the hydrological balances of monitored watersheds were further documented to provide insights into the sensitivity of watersheds as they face climate change. The observations are used to propose recommendations for monitoring of rivers in the Canadian Shield and to identify future research needs.
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emse-04113820 , version 1 (01-06-2023)



Simon Nadeau, E. Rosa, V. Cloutier, Frédéric Paran, J.F. Hélie, et al.. Hydrological mass balance of boreal watersheds in the Canadian Shield. Journal of Hydrology, 2022, 612 (Part C), pp.128236. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2022.128236⟩. ⟨emse-04113820⟩
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