PhD Research Opportunities: Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario

As the third largest wetland in the world, the Hudson Bay Lowlands (HBL) provides many ecological values such as climate regulation through carbon stored as peat and water quantity and quality to sustain the well-being and cultural values of the region’s Indigenous people. Understanding and projecting future contributions of permafrost to ecological and cultural values has become a high science priority in Ontario. Unfortunately, lack of adequate data on current and future permafrost conditions impedes land use planning in the permafrost-dominated regions of the HBL.

The HBL landscape is being exposed to rapidly warming temperatures and permafrost responses are expected to alter the region’s hydrology, carbon cycles, and heavy metal mobilization dynamics. By 2100, permafrost losses of 16 to 67% are predicted, a range that needs to be narrowed to reduce uncertainty. Active layer thickness in the HBL also varies (from <50 to >150 cm) and is expected to change. Much of the water flow, carbon cycling, and heavy metal mobilization occurs in the active layer, and thus may intensify as the permafrost thaws.

The PhD student will be based at the Cold Regions Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The student will develop a research project to increase understanding of active layer freeze/thaw cycles in Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario, using a combination of field and laboratory methods, and will use the resulting information to explain these cycles at watershed scale. The individual will also gain experience in research site establishment by participating with science teams composed of government, academic, and First Nations representatives who will install boreholes, carbon flux towers, stream gauges, and other infrastructure at the site. These interactions will provide the student with excellent networking opportunities across several institutions.

This PhD research project fills a critical knowledge gap impeding the overall goal of sustaining future hydrology, carbon stores, and water quantity and quality as climate change and land use pressures intensify in the HBL. It will also establish a necessary foundation for developing data sets, modeling applications, and mapping products that can be used to inform policy and provide advice and guidance to natural resource practitioners, First Nation communities, and policymakers as climate science is incorporated into planning and decision making.

Contact: Dr. Jim McLaughlin, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry at for further details.

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Cold Regions Eco-Hydrology Field Course

Come to the Scotty Creek Research Station, 11-18 March, 2017 for an intensive field-based course on the physical principles of cold regions eco-hydrology and water resources. This course counts as a High School credit and as a credit toward the Environment and Natural Resources Technology Program (ENRTP) of Aurora College.

For more information please: see the advertisement on the  Environment and Natural Resources website banner.

 OR — download this PDF: scotty-creek-course-advertisement_25-october_revised

Introducing CRRC visiting fellow Dr. Jim McLaughlin

Dr. Jim McLaughlin will be joining Wilfrid Laurier University for a term as a visiting researcher from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Jim is the inaugural holder of the Cold Regions Research Centre Visiting Fellowship and will be based in the Geography and Environmental Studies department.

Please drop in to welcome Jim to Laurier and introduce yourself on Tuesday October 4th between 10:00 a.m.– 11:00 a.m. in the second floor Viessmann Resource Centre (Arts 2E5). Coffee will be provided.