Canada, like other high latitude cold regions on Earth, is experiencing some of the most accelerated and intense warming resulting from global climate change. In the northern regions, Arctic amplification has resulted in warming two to three times greater than global mean temperature trends. Unprecedented warming is matched by intensification of wet and dry regions and hydroclimatic cycles, which is altering the spatial and seasonal distribution of surface waters in Canada. Diagnosing and tracking hydrologic change across Canada requires the implementation of continental-scale prediction models owing the size of Canada’s drainage basins, their distribution across multiple eco- and climatic zones, and the scarcity and paucity of observational networks. This review examines the current state of continental-scale climate change across Canada and the anticipated impacts to freshwater availability, including the role of anthropogenic regulation. The review focuses on continental and regional-scale prediction that underpins operational design and long-term resource planning and management in Canada. While there are significant process-based changes being experienced within Canadian catchments that are equally—if not more so—critical for community water availability, the focus of this review is on the cumulative effects of climate change and anthropogenic regulation for the Canadian freshwater supply.
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