University of Calgary

Four researchers receive funding to study impact of climate change in cold regions

UToday HomeJune 7, 2013

Professors (from left) Ed Johnson, Masaki Hayashi and Ann-Lise Norman are part of nationwide research initiatives funded by NSERC to understand impact of climate change on cold regions.Professors (from left) Ed Johnson, Masaki Hayashi and Ann-Lise Norman are part of nationwide research initiatives funded by NSERC to understand impact of climate change on cold regions.Four University of Calgary researchers — Ann-Lise Norman, Ed Johnson, Masaki Hayashi, and Shawn Marshall — have been awarded a total of $418,100 over five years to explore the impact of climate change on the water cycle and ecosystems of cold regions.

The funding comes from a new Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) initiative administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The initiative encompasses seven Canada-wide environmental projects recently awarded more than $32 million in research funding over five years. The projects involve multi-university researchers, scientists and partner organizations who will collaborate to advance the understanding of climate and the risks related to climate change.

“The NSERC funding received by our researchers to target advances in the understanding of climate change in cold regions will help to fast track the scholarly output, citations and knowledge transfer our institution produces with respect to this important topic,” says Ed McCauley, vice president (research). “These research efforts and their yields will serve as a foundation for supporting strong environmental leadership and deliver benefit for Canadians.”

Ann-Lise Norman explores sources of atmospheric sulfate in the Arctic

Associate professor Ann-Lise Norman, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received funding for her research as part of the Network on Climate and Aerosols (NETCARE): Addressing Key Uncertainties in Remote Canadian Environments.

“Defining the source of atmospheric sulfate in the Arctic and its role in cloud and precipitation formation will help bridge the short and long-term effects of clouds and precipitation in regional and global climate models,” she explains.

Shawn Marshall gathers mass balance measurements on Illecillewaet Glacier at Rogers Pass, B.C.Shawn Marshall gathers mass balance measurements on Illecillewaet Glacier at Rogers Pass, B.C.Ed Johnson, Masaki Hayashi, Shawn Marshall research mountain water issues

Professors Ed Johnson from the Department of Biological Sciences, Masaki Hayashi from the Department of Geoscience and Shawn Marshall from the Department of Geography, all received grants for projects linked to the Changing Cold Regions Network (CCRN).

The CCRN brings together the expertise of a team of 50 university and government scientists and international collaborators from multiple disciplines to study the cold interior of Western and Northern Canada east of the Continental Divide.

For Canada Research Chair in Physical Hydrology, Masaki Hayashi, this new funding will allow his team to push the research to a new level, especially in the realm of understanding alpine groundwater.

“Our goal is to arrive at useful information and tools for water resources managers such as the City of Calgary that takes 100 per cent of its water supply from the Bow River and the Elbow River originating in the Rockies,” he says.

Marshall's group will use the new funding to further study the contributions of glacier meltwater to Alberta's rivers and how this runoff is likely to change in light of glacier retreat in the Canadian Rockies.

“Glaciers make up a small fraction of the landscape in the Rockies but they provide extensive meltwater runoff and groundwater recharge in the late summer, after the winter snowpack has receded,” says Marshall, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and interim director for the Arctic Institute of North America in the Department of Geography at the University of Calgary.

“Our group will study the timing, routing, and storage of glacier meltwater and develop models to simulate these processes for the Bow and Saskatchewan River Basins," he adds.

Marshall received additional funding for projects associated with the Canadian Network for Regional Climate and Weather Processes. As a group leader for this network, he will focus his team’s efforts on developing improved representation of snow, ice and glacier processes within the Canadian regional climate model.

“The model we’ll work on will support the same platform used by Environment Canada for the national weather forecasts,” he concludes.

 

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