Trends in Canadian streamflow


  • Xuebin Zhang,

  • K. David Harvey,

  • W. D. Hogg,

  • Ted R. Yuzyk


This study presents trends computed for the past 30–50 years for 11 hydroclimatic variables obtained from the recently created Canadian Reference Hydrometrie Basin Network database. It was found that annual mean streamflow has generally decreased during the periods, with significant decreases detected in the southern part of the country. Monthly mean streamflow for most months also decreased, with the greatest decreases occurring in August and September. The exceptions are March and April, when significant increases in streamflow were observed. Significant increases were identified in lower percentiles of the daily streamflow frequency distribution over northern British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. In southern Canada, significant decreases were observed in all percentiles of the daily streamflow distribution. Breakup of river ice and the ensuing spring freshet occur significantly earlier, especially in British Columbia. There is also evidence to suggest earlier freeze-up of rivers, particularly in eastern Canada. The trends observed in hydroclimatic variables are entirely consistent with those identified in climatic variables in other Canadian studies.