Professor François Brissette

Three areas of research and practice: modelling tools, climate change and alternative data.

November 6, 2014
The difference between a year of plentiful rain and a year of drier conditions can mean a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars for a company like Hydro-Québec. That is why hydrological forecasting tools – which can be used to project precipitation levels – are so important.

The dearth of data from remote regions where major dams are located limits the effectiveness of these tools. Using new sources of data represents a possible solution in this research field that is so closely connected with climate change.

François Brissette is a professor in the Department of Construction Engineering at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). He works in three interrelated and complementary areas of research and practice.

Modelling tools

First, he is involved in efforts to enhance modelling tools for hydrological events in order to improve runoff forecasts. The smallest error in assessment can result in a difference of millions of dollars, and that is why reliable forecasts are so important. This work is being conducted in collaboration with industry, including Hydro-Québec, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Ontario Power Generation.

Climate change

For the past 15 years, issues relating to climate change have kept François Brissette very busy. He has devoted his time to gaining a better understanding of these matters, estimating their impact and uncertainty, and assessing their influence on forecasting models.

Alternative data

Building data-capture stations in certain parts of our vast territory is extremely difficult and expensive. However, today’s climate models may provide a solution. A wealth of climate-related data can be extrapolated for a specific location at a specific moment, even if no information is captured onsite. These alternative data pave the way for a new hydrological paradigm for which François Brissette and his team are the standard-bearers.

The weather isn’t something that François Brissette confronts only in his laboratory. He also deals with it out there in the open as a triathlete with over 100 competitions, including 8 Ironman events, under his belt. For François, a relaxing vacation means taking out his skis and crampons and going on an alpine hike in search of vast expanses of untrodden snow. When he was younger, he wavered for a long while between pursuing a career in hydrology and a career as a mountain guide.

“Water is one of our greatest collective resources.”

For information
Chantal Crevier
Service des communications - ÉTS
514 396-8800, poste 7893

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