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Students address climate change on World Water Day

A study conducted by a UWindsor engineering student modelling water flows in the Great Lakes basin may enhance provincial climate change adaptation strategies.

Masihur Rahman, a PhD candidate in civil engineering, has spent the last few years collecting and processing data from various provincial and federal government agencies to develop a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model for the Great Lakes basin in southern Ontario. Rahman used the model to assess projected impacts of climate change on the basin’s water availability.

“The beauty of this work is that it covers most of the Great Lakes basin on the Canadian side,” says Rahman’s faculty advisor Tirupati Bolisetti, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering. “So, such a large scale modelling tool would help in water sector policy formulation and developing environmental plans for the province.”

Rahman was one of nearly 100 civil and environmental engineering students who gathered in the Centre for Engineering Innovation for United Nation’s World Water Day on March 22 to present the impacts of climate change on water quantity and quality.

Rahman’s study predicted the basin’s streamflow pattern would see significant change due to a number of factors, including an eight to 16 per cent increase in average annual precipitation by the end of the century.

“The consequences of the variability in the future precipitation will affect the availability of water resources year-round and that would be a challenge for the sustainability of ecosystems and agriculture productivity across the region,” says Dr. Bolisetti.

Rahman is finishing his thesis and says the outcomes of his study will be useful for planning and management of watersheds as well as developing climate change adaptation strategies in the basin.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day to invite people worldwide to learn more about water-related issues and take action. For more information, visit unwater.org/worldwaterday.

—Kristie Pearce