Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chair

Better understanding the impact of climate change and land use on watersheds

Friday, January 15, 2021
annie poulin ets
Annie Poulin.

In December, the ÉTS launched its Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chairs program. Five ÉTS faculty members each hold a chair. Today, we present one of the chairs, Professor Annie Poulin.  

What is the impact of climate change on watersheds, i.e., the areas drained by water, combined with the changes resulting from land use? Will the combination of these two changes—climate and land use—affect hydrology? This is what Annie Poulin, professor in the Department of Construction Engineering, intends to find out through the work she will be leading as part of the Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chair on the impact of environmental changes on water resources. 

These studies are important for understanding the impact of these changes on the occurrence of floods and droughts, for example, and for adapting our water management practices at the watershed level.

“Several scientific studies have been carried out across the country to study the impacts of climate change on river flows, for example. But what happens over time if the forest surrounding a river is transformed into a cornfield by humans? Will this new way of using the land combined with the climate changes anticipated in the coming years affect the river’s flow? If so, what will the impacts be,” illustrates Professor Poulin. 

To answer these questions, the professor hopes to develop new methodologies related to the chain of modeling typically used in impact studies. And since no large-scale evaluation has yet been conducted on the capacity of hydrological modeling tools to simulate the effect of land use changes, the professor will take the opportunity to test their reliability. 

The work will build on the HYSETS database, launched in March 2020 by the HC3 – Hydrology Climate & Climate Change Laboratory of the ÉTS, which contains data on more than 14,000 North American watersheds. 

Since North America covers a large area with several types of climates, mountain ranges, vegetation and watersheds, the professor will be able to model several scenarios, which will greatly enrich her research, as will the collaborations she has recently established with researchers in Mexico. 

About Professor Poulin   

Chairholder of the Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chair on the impact of environmental change on water resources and professor in the Department of Construction Engineering since 2010, Annie Poulin specializes in hydroclimatic modeling. She is particularly interested in hydrological modeling and the study of the impact of climate change on watershed hydrology. 

In addition to directing the HC3 – Hydrology Climate & Climate Change Laboratory since 2019, Professor Poulin is actively involved in the development of a scientific collaboration network between Quebec and Mexico. This network brings together the Ouranos Consortium of the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (MELCC), the Regroupement des organismes des bassins versants du Québec, the University of Veracruz, the Mexican Institute of Water Technologies and the National Water Commission of Mexico. In addition, the professor is also collaborating on a scientific project between Quebec and Bavaria.

Professor Poulin is a member of the steering committee of the CentrEAU strategic group as well as a member of the NSERC Discovery Grants evaluation committee. Like the other members of the HC3 Laboratory, Professor Poulin collaborates closely with the Ouranos Consortium and the MELCC as part of the Info-Crue project. 

About the Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chairs Program 

The Marcelle-Gauvreau Engineering Research Chairs program, which was launched by the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) this past December, is designed to highlight the remarkable career paths of professors who, in addition to demonstrating research excellence, have had to show determination and resilience in the face of adversity. Five of the ten chairs were awarded to internal professors. Five more chairs will be awarded to external faculty and professors in the spring of 2021.

Chantal Crevier

Communications Service

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