Effects of Climate Change to be Studied by UNBC Scientists in new National Research Networks

June 24, 2013

The University of Northern British Columbia will be part of two newly-created, inter-university research networks with the potential to affect national and international policy related to climate change. UNBC Environmental Science Professor Stephen Déry will investigate the effects of climate change on snowpack in Canada’s North, and on water levels in northwestern waterways. This participation represents nearly $500,000 in research funding for the University over five years.

Media Download: UNBC Canada Research Chair Dr. Stephen Déry (in the snow in front of UNBC's Prince George campus) will investigate the effects of climate change on weather phenomena such as snowpack in Canada’s North in one of two new national research networks.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of both of these networks, as they are very large, inter-university collaborations with the potential to have global repercussions in environmental policy,” says Dr. Déry, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Northern Hydrometeorology.

Dr. Déry will act as a co-investigator in the newly-created Canadian Sea Ice and Snow Evolution (CanSISE) Network to be run out of the University of Toronto. He will contribute to two major research efforts including hydrological modelling of the Fraser River Basin, in order to establish past and possible future impacts of climate and snowpack level changes on water levels on this major drainage area. A second research project will involve an investigation of snow cover trends across Canada and the Northern Hemisphere.

“In recent years, there has been an accelerating retreat of snow in Canada’s north during the spring. We want to establish some of the causes for this,” says Dr. Déry. “This is important towards helping us better predict weather patterns that can affect both flooding and drought.”

The CanSISE Network will be funded by a grant of $3.595 million over five years from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dr. Déry is also collaborating with the newly-created Canadian Network for Regional Climate and Weather Processes, which is led by the Université du Québec à Montréal. This network intends to improve regional climate modelling and weather processes, with a focus on winter activity. UNBC researchers will attempt to improve the simulation of snow in the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM).

“Presently, snow is simulated in a fairly coarse way within the CRCM,” says Dr. Déry. “So we have been tasked to provide improvements. These results will be important to everyone, from the citizens of these regions, all the way to international decision and policy makers, such as those at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

This project will receive more than $4 million of funding over five years from NSERC. Environment Canada is also a major parntner in both projects.

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