Hay River Ice Jam Study
Principal Investigator: Hicks, Faye E (12)
Licence Number: 15222
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Issued: Mar 14, 2013
Project Team: Jennifer Nafziger (PhD Graduate Student, University of Alberta), Julia Blackburn (PhD Graduate Student, University of Alberta), Stefan Emmer (MSc Graduate Student, University of Alberta), Faye Hicks (Principal Investigator, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To study ice processes on the Hay River in order to continue the ongoing development of computer models to predict them.

Project Description: The objective of this research project is to study ice processes on the Hay River in order to continue the ongoing development of computer models to predict them.

In order to develop realistic models, it is important that the researchers have the opportunity to observe river breakup so as to have a full understanding of the physical context of the historical data. In addition, long term data records must be established to develop a full appreciation of the potential variability of conditions; this will facilitate more reliable and comprehensive flood forecasting models. The primary plan for 2013 and future years, is to document the daily progression of river ice breakup, which the research team will do from a small aircraft and also from the ground, since there are numerous road access points along the river. Much of the relevant data is already collected by the Town Flood Watch Committee during breakup, so the primary focus is on obtaining data that is complementary to these efforts.

From the air, digital photographs and video are the means by which the research team will document river breakup as this is the best vantage point to see all segments of the river along the study reach. Representatives from the Town of Hay River and the Kátl`odeeche First Nation are invited to participate in these observation flights.

Photographs and video would also be taken on the ground at accessible points along the river, particularly during ice movement events. The research team will also measure water and ice levels, before and after ice movements, when and where it is safe to do so. Water and ice level measurements are done with standard survey instruments (typically using a surveyor's rod and level, or with a computerized ‘global positioning system’ survey instrument). Additionally, dataloggers would be deployed to allow automated collection of ice/water elevations and ice run velocities. None of these types of measurements have any environmental impact. The timing of this breakup survey will depend on weather conditions leading to spring thaw, but historical averages show us that the Hay River ice cover breaks up in late April and early May. The research team will mobilize and travel to the Town when reports and weather forecasts suggest breakup may soon commence.

The research team has been actively collaborating with the Town of Hay River on this long term study since 2004. They communicate the results to individuals primarily through this collaboration with local officials. The research team communicates with the Town and the community in a number of ways:
During breakup - through active interactions with the Town Flood Watch Committee, through the public web site and private info portal for Town officials, and in face-to-face meetings.
After breakup - through the web site, phone meetings and through the project reports and scientific articles.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013.