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U of Calgary receives over $1M in water research funding from CFI


March 16, 2016
By Marketwired

Calgary – University of Calgary geography professors Scott Jasechko and Brent Else have joined forces to tackle two sides of a research coin: marine waterways and fresh inland water.

Else focuses on marine waterways, while Jasechko looks at fresh inland water. Together they are building a better picture of two of the Earth’s most important life-support systems – the carbon and water cycles – from the oil sands to the Arctic Ocean.

“We get to dabble in each other’s world,” says Else. “By combining our two research groups we’ll get a much better understanding of two very intricately linked cycles.”

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Jasechko and Else are co-leads on one of five University of Calgary research projects to receive funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund – a fund designed to help universities attract and retain the best and brightest researchers from around the world by giving them access to cutting-edge research tools.

The CFI-funded equipment will be used to study five research themes: ground water movement in the Alberta oil sands, water vapour transport in the Arctic, carbon dioxide absorption by Arctic Seas, Arctic Ocean carbon cycling, and carbon transport via flowing ground water.

This summer, Else will take his new instruments aboard research ships, including the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, where he will measure how much carbon is being released to the atmosphere from the ocean and how much is being absorbed.

“By gaining a better understanding of how this works, we’ll be better prepared to predict future effects of climate change,” says Else.

Jasechko will conduct field work in the north testing how sections of the ocean that are now ice free for much longer periods of the year can impact high latitude water cycling. Jasechko also has a master’s student, Jessica Ellis leading research work in the oil sands studying the interaction of ground water with surface stream flows to gain a better understanding of these natural flow networks. Ultimately, this will lead to work studying the implications of oil sands water use on waterways that ultimately empty into the Arctic Ocean.

“The goal for me is to gain a clearer picture of water availability and of the natural controls that impact water quality,” said Jasechko. “We should be able to use the results of this research to better predict where water goes when it rains across the country.”

This project will also help train about a dozen graduate students in new research techniques over five years with opportunities for undergraduates to learn as well.

“This is a great opportunity for students to both further their studies and build expertise through hands on experience,” says Jasechko.

Adds Else: “Basically, there are lot of open questions and we just want to get in there and start testing and see where it takes us.”