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Northern Water Futures

Scientists have documented that Northwestern Canada is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. Unprecedented changes in snow cover and rates of permafrost thaw are transforming ecosystems and changing the landscape. The impacts of these changes have altered flow and sediment regimes and aquatic health of streams, rivers, and lakes, with implications for the health, well-being, safety and livelihoods of northern communities. In addition, resource exploration and production in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is expected to expand dramatically in the coming years, which will include construction of new highways, pipelines and other infrastructure.

Government, industry decision makers, local and Indigenous communities and co-management boards require science-based predictive tools and user-driven mitigation and adaptation strategies to ensure that “the waters of the Northwest Territories will remain clean, abundant and productive for all time,” as envisioned in the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy.

The Northern Water Futures (NWF) project is a direct response to the climate-warming-driven, water-security challenges described above. NWF is a Northwest Territories-focused consortium of knowledge producers, mobilizers and users from communities, government, industry, non-governmental organizations and universities, working collaboratively to understand, predict and address the impacts of climate change and industrial expansion on shared water resources across the Northwest Territories (NWT).

Creating Solutions in Collaboration with Northern Partners

NWF will bring together water knowledge producers, users, and experts in knowledge mobilization and application to improve community readiness in the face of uncertain water futures. Engagement with researchers and user communities will be ongoing and evolve based on the needs of the users and the project. Building trust will result in a better understanding of the specific needs of northern communities, and increase the likelihood that science-based tools will be incorporated into management decisions by communities, and that scientific information will govern policy development.

Northern Water Futures will deliver adaptive risk management solutions to manage water futures in the NWT. Solutions will be informed and supported by leading-edge, integrated northern ecosystem science and innovative decision support tools.