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Innovative Tools for Monitoring Conditions Leading to River Ice Jams on Saint-François River in Quebec, Canada

Authors: Valérie Plante Lévesque*, INRS, Marc-Antoine Persent, INRS, Yves Gauthier, INRS, Tahiana Ratsimbazafy, INRS, Simon Tolszczuk-Leclerc, Natural Ressources Canada, Karem Chokmani, INRS
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Remote Sensing, Cryosphere
Keywords: Ice jams, river monitoring, Cryospheric hazards
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Each year, ice is recorded on almost every Canadian freshwater body. Although winter is culturally considered less dynamic since snow and ice cover the landscape, many processes are active especially during spring break up. For instance, river ice jams floods are the most damaging water-related hazards in cold regions. The ice accumulations can extend for miles and be up to a few feet thick. Riparian zones and banks are then flooded to a greater or lesser extent depending on the local geomorphology impacting populations and infrastructures. Preventive strategies are difficult to implement since river ice jams remain largely unpredictable at regional scale, even if site-specific efforts have been made to prevent them. The impact of hydrometeorological conditions on breakup has been studied by many. Data on in situ ice conditions is, however, rarely considered because rivers are difficult to access safely along their entire length during winter time. Our research therefore focuses on developing a method for safely monitoring ice cover using remote sensing before and during ice jams. The methodology involves 1) mapping river ice from radar and optical images using data fusion 2) identifying ice sections prone to break up and 3) acquiring spatial data (location, extension) during the ice jam event with an UAV. This presentation will include a case study example for the 2019 Saint-François River ice jam events. This study is part of DAVE (Dispositif d’Alerte et vigilance des embâcles de glace in French) and aims to improve ice jam risk management across Canada.

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