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Merits and development strategies for a regional water resources modelling platform for southern Ontario - Great Lakes Basin

Water resources within Southern Ontario and the Great Lakes Basin (GLB) are a focal point for a wide range of stakeholders who are faced with addressing climate change impacts and resiliency, surface water and groundwater sustainability, and Great Lakes water quality. Because of the
complexity of these challenges, modern science-based decision support tools are required. As demonstrated by water resources management projects underway in the Canadian Prairies and Europe, fully-integrated groundwater-surface water models are increasingly being used as multi-stakeholder decision
support tools for demanding hydrologic problems. The centralized high-performance modelling platforms and associated databases are being developed through a collaboration of platform end users and requisite specialists. The multi-stakeholder functionality of this next generation of water resource
simulation tools is primarily possible because fully-integrated hydrologic models seamlessly couple surface water (SW) and groundwater (GW) flow systems, including the unsaturated zone, and are driven by spatio-temporal precipitation events that are either derived from observational data or climate
system projections. As such, traditional groundwater-only and surface-water-only models are replaced by a single simulation platform that employs a holistic physics-based approach emulating the entire terrestrial water cycle with full accounting of water balances within and between the various
hydrological compartments. Furthermore, fully-integrated physics-based modeling provides additional benefit when simulating hydrologically complex settings such as the GLB because crucial GW-SW interaction processes are inherently captured. While fully-integrated models have been commonly employed
on local-scale academic problems (10's to 100's of km2) for more than 10 years, their application to 3D water resources problems at the scale of Southern Ontario or the GLB has only been recently demonstrated. This increase in model scale, as well as complexity and spatial resolution has evolved
because of a number of factors, including the mainstream accessibility to high-performance computing resources, improved numerical techniques, and the increasing availability of the large spatially-distributed datasets required to construct these models. While the movement towards open data is
recognized as a major impetus for basin-scale model development, some of the datasets required to construct large-scale integrated models are still not widely available. Based on a preliminary investigation of data availability for the GLB and Southern Ontario, it is apparent that the principle data
gap relates to the lack of spatially extensive and vertically resolved hydrostratigraphic characterization within the Phanerozoic and Quaternary sedimentary units. Accordingly, a GLB or Southern Ontario focused integrated hydrologic modeling initiative would need strong collaborative support from
specialists familiar with the regional geology.

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The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Research Inventory is an
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Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region.