Alain Pietroniro


Department of Civil Engineering

Schulich Chair in Sustainable Water Systems in a Changing Climate

Schulich School of Engineering

PhD Civil Engineering

University of Waterloo, 1992

MASc Civil Engineering

University of Waterloo, 1988

BSc (Ag. Eng) Agricultural Engineering

McGill University, 1985

Contact information

Office hours

Monday through Friday 08:30 – 16:30

Preferred method of communication


Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Hydrological Modelling and Prediction
  • Geomatics Applications in Hydrology
  • Environmental impact of water-intensive industries
  • Water Governance and Adaptation Strategies


The research areas focus on water resources, and they are impacted by climate change and water management activities. His research also focuses on prediction of various components of the water cycle, the changing water cycle in Canada and on the predictability of water resources at all space and time scales. Through these efforts he is working collaboratively with many academics, researchers and various agencies to develop next-generation computational infrastructure for hydrological modelling. This includes developing seamless multi-scale geospatial information for river networks, connections between rivers and lakes, and the corresponding multi-scale and multi-methods for the spatial discretization of the landscape. This work also includes advance model representation of hydrological processes and dominant physical processes in the regions where the models are applied. Also, hydrological models require extensive information on geospatial parameters that describe the storage and fluxes of water and energy in the different model sub-domains. This parametrization is an important aspect of the on-going research.


Dr. Alain Pietroniro is an internationally recognized expert in hydrology and sustainable water systems, who has spent almost three decades studying water resources engineering. A full Professor of Civil Engineering at University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, Dr. Pietroniro’s research is focused on improving, developing and evaluating hydrologic models, understanding the sensitivity of water resources to climate variability and change, and developing the next generation of hydrological modelling systems. Dr. Pietroniro is the former Executive director for the National Hydrological Service within the Meteorological Service of Canada which included the management of the Water Survey of Canada. Those duties focused on managing the operations of the WSC which included over 2300 hydrometric stations and 11 agreements with the provinces and territories. It also included engineering services relate to both the hydrometric measurements, water management and governance programs of the MSC, including carrying out orders outlined in 14 US/Canada bi-national water treaties that overseen by the International Joint commission. He had been in that position from 2006-2020 and prior, was a research scientist at the National Hydrology Research Institute for 15 years. He has overseen model development leading or managing work related to hydraulic modeling, coupled numerical weather modeling and development of a space-based hydrology plan. Over the course of his career, Dr. Pietroniro has published over 90-refereed scientific journal papers, about 150 conference abstracts, led the publication of 21 manuscripts and workshop proceedings on applications of geomatics in hydrology, and 2 book chapters on surface water remote sensing. Dr. Pietroniro also is involved in developing innovative frameworks for linking hydrological and atmospheric models. This includes using various geomatics and isotopic techniques to establish hydrological pathways and improved water resources modeling results. Dr. Pietroniro is a registered professional engineer in the province of Saskatchewan.


Refereed Publications (2020-2021)

Ahmed, M. I., Elshorbagy, A., Pietroniro, A., & Princz, D. (2021). Improving the Representation of the Non-Contributing Area Dynamics in Land Surface Models for Better Simulation of Prairie Hydrology. Journal of Hydrology, 126562.

DeBeer, C. M., Wheater, H. S., Pomeroy, J. W., Barr, A. G., Baltzer, J. L., Johnstone, J. F., et al. (2021). Summary and synthesis of Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN) research in the interior of western Canada–Part 2: Future change in cryosphere, vegetation, and hydrology. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 25(4), 1849–1882.

Gibson, J., Eby, P., Stadnyk, T., Holmes, T., Birks, S., & Pietroniro, A. (2021). Dataset of 18O and 2H in streamflow across Canada: A national resource for tracing water sources, water balance and predictive modelling. Data in Brief, 34, 106723.

Harlan, M., Gleason, C., Altenau, E., Butman, D., Carter, T., Chu, V., et al. (2021). Discharge Estimation From Dense Arrays of Pressure Transducers. Water Resources Research, 57(3), e2020WR028714.

McDonnell, J. J., Gabrielli, C., Ameli, A., Ekanayake, J., Fenicia, F., Freer, J., et al. (2021). The Maimai M8 experimental catchment database: Forty years of process-based research on steep, wet hillslopes. Hydrological Processes, 35(5), e14112.

Ahmed, Mohamed Ismaiel, Elshorbagy, A., Pietroniro, A., 2020. A novel model for storage dynamics simulation and inundation mapping in the prairies. Environmental Modelling & Software 133, 104850.

Ahmed, Mohamed I, Elshorbagy, A., Pietroniro, A., 2020b. Toward Simple Modeling Practices in the Complex Canadian Prairie Watersheds. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering 25, 04020024.

Asong, Z.E., Elshamy, M.E., Princz, D., Wheater, H.S., Pomeroy, J.W., Pietroniro, A., Cannon, A., 2020. High-resolution meteorological forcing data for hydrological modelling and climate change impact analysis in the Mackenzie River Basin. Earth System Science Data 12.

Gharari, S., Clark, M.P., Mizukami, N., Knoben, W.J., Wong, J.S., Pietroniro, A., 2020. Flexible vector-based spatial configurations in land models. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 1–40.

Elshamy, M. E., Princz, D., Sapriza-Azuri, G., Abdelhamed, M. S., Pietroniro, A., Wheater, H. S., & Razavi, S. (2020). On the configuration and initialization of a large-scale hydrological land surface model to represent permafrost. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 24(1), 349–379.

Millard, K., Brown, N., *Stiff, D., Pietroniro, A., 2020. Automated surface water detection from space: a Canada-wide, open-source, automated, near-real time solution. Canadian Water Resources Journal/Revue canadienne des ressources hydriques 1–20.

DeBeer, C.M., Wheater, H.S., Pomeroy, J.W., Barr, A.G., Baltzer, J.L., Johnstone, J.F., Turetsky, M.R., Stewart, R.E., Hayashi, M., van der Kamp, G., others, 2020. Summary and synthesis of Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN) research in the interior of western Canada–Part 2: Future change in cryosphere, vegetation, and hydrology. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 1–48.

Gibson, J., Holmes, T., Stadnyk, T., Birks, S., Eby, P., & Pietroniro, A. (2020). 18O and 2H in streamflow across Canada. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 32, 100754.

Invited Talks (2021)

Invited lecture on Hydrometry and on streamflow routing for the U of S graduate course Geog827, January 24,2021

Invited talk on Adaptative management and Water Resources with Hayley Carlson, CWRA Lunchtime seminar (Virtual) - Feb, 9, 2021

Invited Talk, INTAROS: Integrated Arctic Observation System. INTAROS is a research and innovation action under the H2020-BG-09 call in 2016 and will run from 2016 to 2021. Feb, 11, 2021 – Overview of the Arctic HYCOS programme

Invited Talk, 2nd Annual Flood Forecasting Forum presentation. Analysis of High Water on Great Slave Lake- 2020

Invited Talk for GWF Core Modelling Webinar Series, “Advances in Hydrological Forecasting” Alain Pietroniro, Martyn Clark, John Pomeroy, Karl-Erich Lindenschmidt, Paulin Coulibaly, James Craig, Louise Arnal, Chris Marsh, Apurba Das, Dave Casson, Jongho Keum, Sujata Budhathoki, Prabin Rokaya

Workshop or Conference Presentations (2021)

Presentation for Arctic HYCOS – State of the Canadian Hydrometric Program – 2020, Given at the virtual Arctic Hycos meeting – Feb 4, 2021 = A. Pietronirp Rainville, F., Pietroniro, A., Bouchard, A., Brown, A., & Stiff, D. (2021). A Continuous Data Production Approach to Flow Estimation in Canada. In EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (pp. EGU21-8897).

Louise Arnal, Martyn Clark, Vincent Vionnet, Vincent Fortin, Alain Pietroniro, and Andy Wood - "Quantifying streamflow predictability across North America on sub-seasonal to seasonal timescales”

  • AGU Fall Meeting, December 2020 - - EGU General Assembly, April 2021
  • 2nd Annual Canadian Flood Forecasting Forum, February 2021 -
  • GWF 2021 Annual Open Science Meeting, May 2021 -



Jim Bruce Citation of Excellence for Contributions in Meteorology Awarded toa team or individual at Environment and Climate Change Canada that made and outstanding contribution to the field of meteorology.