Abstracts: CMOS Ottawa, 2010-2011

(in language given)

Smith (Sharon):  A coordinated effort during the International Polar Year (IPY) provided a unique opportunity for Canadian permafrost scientists to develop a snapshot of permafrost thermal state for northern Canada, contributing to an international map and database. The measurements span a wide range of ecoclimate and geological conditions and provide an updated baseline against which change can be measured. Analysis of data collected over the last two to three decades indicates that permafrost temperatures have generally increased across northern Canada with greater warming rates occurring north of tree line. Consequently the spatial diversity of permafrost thermal conditions is decreasing over time. The information generated by the IPY project not only leads to a better understanding of the response of the permafrost environment to a changing climate, but also supports development of strategies to deal with changing conditions and land use decisions in the Canadian north.

Galbraith:  When humans first arrived in Canada, it was covered by a vast ice sheet. Over the next 8000 years, atmospheric pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) increased by 40%, and the northern ice sheets melted. Marine sediment cores, collected from throughout the world ocean, document the dramatic changes in ocean circulation and chemistry that accompanied this natural global warming experiment. Recent progress on understanding the evolution of dissolved oxygen concentrations and variations in nutrient cycling that accompanied this warming will be reviewed.  The central role of Antarctic waters in coordinating global climate change, by controlling atmospheric pCO2 will also be discussed.

Smith (Jeffery):  The Twenty-First Century will be important to Canada in the polar north and in the era of an emerging ice-free Arctic Ocean. Sovereignty and resource development in the Arctic will be decided on international law and previous legal claims. The current basis for Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic ocean will be discussed. The International Law of the Sea as it applies to Canada and Canada's historic and legal claims to Arctic ocean waters, the Oceans Act and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act will be included. Northern ocean sovereignty based on the Polar Sea "incident" and the recent Hans Island dispute will be covered. The presenter will suggest how Canada will secure its ocean rights in the polar north, including the making of exclusive economic zone boundaries, sea-lane passage challenges, and the necessity to define and secure national rights to the ocean floor and resources.

Pedersen:  Global warming caused by human activities is happening, it is scientifically well understood and, as will be discussed in the lecture, it presents a serious challenge to human societies. But in that challenge lies an opportunity for us to do things better, to unleash a new era of creativity, to improve the stewardship of our natural environment, and to revitalize our economy while generating new, cleaner industrial activity.

Taking such action demands concerted political leadership and policy development informed by high-quality interdisciplinary research. The latter requirement led the Government of British Columbia to create in 2008 the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), an endowed four-university consortium hosted and led by the University of Victoria that focuses on blending the social and physical sciences and engineering to provide best-practice policy pathways that the provincial government can follow.

The role PICS is now playing in contributing to British Columbia's response to the climate-change challenge will be described and set within the larger North American context. But there remains a problem: most 'climate solutions' are not of provincial scale, and many span, if not the full globe, at least the scale of the nation or continents. 'Solutions' case studies that span both the science-policy intersection and large spatial scales will be presented. For example, the directive to enhance corn-ethanol production in the U. S. has reinforced unwelcome, distal oceanographic impacts that might have been curbed had science and interdisciplinary discussion been used more effectively in the policy design. And in Canada, our provincially-controlled electrical grid system hampers our ability to accommodate renewable energy, thereby limiting the scope we have to reduce CO2 emissions. Europe is taking a collective, aggressive and different tack that will be contrasted to the current situation in Canada.

Finally, it is increasingly clear that Canada could take steps that would simultaneously allow us to reduce carbon emissions--an imperative that climate science tells us is a must--while yielding significant new economic value. Getting there will require recognition by the Canadian public (and its mirror - our politicians) of both need and opportunity. Therein lies another challenge--one which PICS is also addressing--that is rooted in the communication of science, economic perceptions and economic reality, and human behavioural psychology.

Fortier:  The rate at which the Arctic world is warming exceeds the most pessimistic models' predictions. Satellite and direct observations reveal the spectacular melt of the Arctic Ocean ice pack. Have recent years brought some hoped-for but unlikely return of the ice? The truth is that the almost complete loss of old, multi-year ice marks a point of no return. The demise of the permanent Arctic ice pack could herald the abrupt shift in the climate of the Northern Hemisphere feared by many specialists.

From the potential extinction of the arctic mega-fauna to the opening of the North West Passage; from the threatened Inuit culture to the destabilisation of northern infrastructure; Louis Fortier will review both the negative and possible positive impacts of warming on arctic marine ecosystems and ecosystems services. He will describe Canadian-led international efforts to elucidate the mysteries of the transforming Arctic world. His passionate style and dramatic images and videos will bring the excitement of scientific adventure in the High Arctic to life for you.

Hogue:  The science behind Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) systems has been in constant evolution in the past 40 years. The number of real-time applications of the NWP systems has also been growing going far beyond the provision of forecasts related to the next approaching weather system. The presentation will go over the operational production systems in place at Meteorological Service of Canada's (MSC) Canadian Metetorological Center (CMC) in Dorval which hosts Environment Canada's supercomputer and main national NWP production system. We will highlight the many applications of NWP not only in the the area of operational meteorology but as well other areas such environmental emergency response and air quality issues. In particular we will present our envolvement in the specific events related to the recent eruptions of the Iceland volcano and recent applications of atmospheric transport modeling to the release of hazardous materials. The growing use of probabilistic approaches such as ensemble prediction systems will also be highlighted.

Lyon:  Ocean fertilization continues to be proposed as a possible geo-engineering technique to counter increased global CO2 emissions. In February 2009, the London Convention/London Protocol initiated the development of a draft "Assessment Framework for Scientific Research Involving Ocean Fertilization". The framework provides a tool for assessing scientific research proposals on a case-by-case basis to ensure, among other things, that innovative experimentation, limited by strict criteria and regulated by a recognized international authority, could advance the sciences of oceanography and biogeochemistry with negligible environmental impact. This presentation examines the current scientific knowledge and understanding of ocean fertilization, the uncertainties, and fundamental questions required for informed decision making.

Grimes:  Canadians are demanding more weather and climate services than ever, in part because their vulnerability is increasing due to climatic change, but also because Canadians rely on, and use, new technologies for immediate and accurate information. Concurrently, the meteorological service sector in Canada is working to keep pace with Canadians increased demands for service by investing in transformative initiatives as opportunities present themselves; however, there is a broader and longer-term perspective that needs to be considered. The role of earth systems prediction may provide Canada's meteorological services enterprise with an opportunity to grow and adapt to the increased demands of Canadians in the future.
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