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Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada's mandate is to improve the quality of life of Canadians through the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment, including water, air, and soil quality, renewable resources, migratory birds, and other wildlife, as well as weather forecasting and warnings.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's mission is to make sustainable development a reality in Canada by helping Canadians live and prosper in an environment that needs to be respected, protected, and conserved.

To this end, Environment and Climate Change Canada undertakes and promotes programs to:

  • protect Canadians from domestic and global sources of pollution;
  • conserve biodiversity in healthy ecosystems; and
  • enable Canadians to adapt to weather and related environmental influences and impacts on human health and safety, economic prosperity, and environmental quality.

The evolving mission of Environment and Climate Change Canada is to provide leadership and play an advocacy role in making sustainable development a reality in Canada.

Note: There is no specific funding allocated to this program.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's Science and Technology

Environment and Climate Change Canada's research and development is conducted principally in seven research institutes with a wide range of partners.

The Science and Technology Branch conducts research in many areas, specifically atmospheric and hydrological sciences related to climate, meteorology, water quantity, air quality, and associated environmental impacts and adaptation. The Science and Technology branch also conducts research in the aquatic and ecosystem sciences related to water quality, ecotoxicology, and wildlife ecology, including endangered species and conservation. There is also research related to the development of technologies for measuring air pollution and toxic chemicals, for managing industrial and municipal wastes, including wastewater treatment, and for preventing and managing pollution emergencies.

As environmental issues continue to evolve, the department's capacity to understand, interpret, and forecast on the basis of scientific knowledge will remain of central importance to its work in policy, regulation, and services. Science and Technology (S&T) makes it possible to develop environmental technologies that can remediate the problems of the past, forecast the problems of the future, and offer ways to prevent, mitigate, or adapt to the environment of the future.

Departmental Website:  This link will take you to another Web site Environment and Climate Change Canada

Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate

Climate Research Division

Fields of Research

The Climate Research Division program is an integrated, end-to-end program in which atmospheric and climate observations, process studies, model development and application, and analysis and diagnostics are used to advance understanding of the Earth System and to make quantitative climate predictions/projections in support of adaptation and mitigation decision making.   CRD scientists provide expertise and international-calibre research contributions in those areas needed to support our overall mandate of providing science-based climate information to Canadians.  Every research activity is undertaken in collaboration with the Canadian and international research community. This allows CRD to develop world class, and over-arching expertise enabling the scientists to participate at the leading edge of the international research activity leveraging the broadest and most state of the art understanding of the climate system for Canadian adaptation and mitigation decision making.  

Climate processes

The focus of this research is on improved understanding of cold-climate processes in the climate system and their parameterization in climate models. The research aims to improve our capability to observe, model, and validate components of the energy and water cycles in cold climates through field and modelling studies and knowledge and effective use of conventional data sets and satellite derived information. Field campaigns involving in situ measurements and microwave remote sensing support the development of satellite-based capabilities to characterize the spatial and temporal aspects of the cryosphere in northern Canada, with a focus on snow cover (snow water equivalent), sea ice and lake ice.  New satellite retrieval techniques are applied to historical satellite data records spanning 30-40 years to derive information on cryospheric variability and change that can be used to evaluate climate model outputs and provide new knowledge on the role of the cryosphere in the climate system.  Research activities are also focussed on improving the parameterization of cold climate processes in the Canadian Land Surface Scheme (CLASS), which is the "state of the art" land surface model in Canada that is used as the land surface component in Canadian climate, numerical weather prediction and hydrological models.  The incorporation of lake ice processes in CLASS is a recent enhancement. Field studies of climate processes provide data sets for model development and validation.

Climate system modelling

The focus of this research is to develop an improved understanding of the climate system, including the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean and its interaction with the cryosphere, land surface and biosphere, and to develop comprehensive Earth System models capable of quantitative predictions and projections of climate change from seasons to centuries. Such model development involves improved process parameterization and numerical simulation of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, cryosphere, and climatically important biogeochemical cycles. Global and regional versions of the model are used to undertake a wide range of climate simulations in support of process research, historical climate change detection and attribution, operational climate prediction, and long-term climate projections used to provide climate change scenarios. Model development and application is supported by a range of diagnostic studies in which observations of various kinds are used to evaluate model performance and to derive new insights into the complex coupled processes that shape global and regional climate. Special interests include parameterization of "sub-grid scale" processes, the middle atmosphere (including ozone-related chemistry and dynamics), processes involved in driving ocean circulation and mixing, regional-scale climate and modes of variability, and oceanic and terrestrial biogeochemical cycles. The modelling work makes extensive use of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s super-computing facility.

Climate data analysis

The goal is to characterize and understand natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate change so past and future changes in the climate can be placed in their proper context. This research is conducted with both observed data (including extensive archives of instrumental and analysed climate data) and climate models of present, past and future climates. A related goal is to investigate the relationship between atmospheric circulation and weather and climate extremes. Particular attention is on assessing and understanding trends in the Canadian and global climate with respect to extreme events, and investigation and explanation of climate anomalies. Expertise is also applied to the design of optimal system observing networks in Canada as well as to develop guidance for proper consideration of climate change in infrastructure design. Specific activities include study of climate data homogeneity, climate change detection and attribution, climate projection for climate variables and at the space and time scales relevant for assessing climate change impacts.

Greenhouse gases and aerosols measurements and research

The focus of this research is to undertake long-term systematic observations of greenhouse gases and aerosols in Canada, as well as conduct research aimed at improving understanding of atmospheric processes related to climate and the role of atmospheric pollutants as climate forcing agents. Operational protocols and analytical methods are developed for field instrumentation as well as in the laboratory leading to high quality data collection, in line with international standards. Research includes participation in field campaigns employing a variety of atmospheric measurement techniques to improve understanding of the physical and chemical properties of aerosols, and their impact on the climate system. This in turn supports the evaluation of modelling efforts to improve global and regional predictive capabilities. Research is also focused on advancing the development and application of inverse modelling and data assimilation methods for preliminary estimates of Canadian greenhouse gas sources and sinks related to fossil fuel use, wetlands and other sources.

Note: There is no specific funding allocated to this program.

Contact

Marjorie Shepherd
Tel.: 416-739-4230
Fax: 416-739-5700
Email: marjorie.shepherd@canada.ca

Climate Research Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
4905 Dufferin Street
Downsview, Ontario
M3H 5T4
Website: This link will take you to another Web site About Climate Research

Meteorological Research Division

Fields of Research

Numerical weather prediction research – Research in numerical modelling of the atmosphere for the purpose of predicting atmospheric circulation and related weather, including extreme events. The work includes formulation and numerical solution of equations of all those physical processes that can be explicitly treated or parameterized; development of accurate and efficient numerical algorithms; improvement of short-range forecasts (less than 48 hours) through improved mesoscale modelling techniques; including the deterministic and ensemble approaches; improvement of deterministic and ensemble medium-range forecasts (three days until end of week two) through the reduction of systematic errors, particularly those linked with surface parameterizations (water and heat fluxes), stratospheric dynamics, turbulence closures, clouds, precipitation and radiative forcing; use of ensemble methods to develop an extended-range forecasts (up to 90 days) capability by investigating appropriate techniques and effects; and development of new forecast techniques and improvement of existing ones for direct numerical weather element prediction. Also included is research in coupled numerical modelling for comprehensive environmental prediction, conducted in collaboration with other government, industry, and academic partners in order to produce new and/or improved operational environmental prediction models and products, especially for the protection of life and property with respect to extreme weather events and improved economical competitiveness. The work in this division makes extensive use of super-computer facilities at the Canadian Meteorological Centre.

Data assimilation and satellite meteorology – The program focuses on the development of techniques for quantitative application of operational satellite data to weather forecasting and on the development of techniques for making use of new satellite data. Included are the development of systems for atmospheric sounding, automated merging of weather radar and satellite data to produce short-range precipitation forecasts, and the application of remotely sensed microwave data. The work also includes research and development on data assimilation techniques. The emphasis is on techniques, such as Kalman filtering and four-dimensional variational assimilation, and meso-scale or regional data assimilation using Doppler radars and wind profilers.

Cloud physics and Severe Weather Research – This focuses on research activities related understanding, detecting and predicting severe weather phenomena, and the applications of cloud and precipitation physics to severe weather processes, very short term forecasting (i.e., nowcasting, weather and climate prediction and remote sensing applications). The majority of the research is observationally based and there is emphasis on the utilization of radars, satellites, research aircraft. The Section operates a 5-cm dual-polarized Doppler radar at King City for research and operational purposes, as well as X-band vertically pointing radar, X-band scanning radar, 915 MHz wind profiler, microwave radiometer, and a mesonet. There and other surface instruments for measuring precipitation, visibility, winds and hydrometeors support an advanced nowcasting research and development program. Finally, direct and remote sensing observations of cloud and precipitation properties are used to develop or validate satellite retrieval algorithms (i.e., CloudSat, Global Precipitation Mission) and develop parameterizations that can be used in NWP or GCM models.

Contact

Dr. Gilbert Brunet
Tel.: 514-421-4771
Fax: 514-421-2106
Email: gilbert.brunet@canada.ca

Meteorological Research Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
2121 Trans-Canada Highway
Dorval, Quebec
H9P 1J3
Website: This link will take you to another Web site Meteorological Research and Development

Air Quality Research Division

Fields of Research

Air quality research – Research is aimed at improving the understanding of the changing chemistry of the atmosphere. Pollutant transport, dispersion, chemical transformations, deposition, and emissions research and measurement are all under active study. The work is directed towards the priority issues of acid rain, toxic chemicals, photochemical smog, and stratospheric ozone. Activities include monitoring and the development of measurement techniques including developing new chemical analytical methods, modelling, emissions characterization, and field and laboratory experimental studies.

Acid rain – A measurement network across Canada permits daily monitoring of the acid rain problem. Analysis of the data is undertaken in conjunction with meteorological data and data from other media such as lakes and rivers. Such analysis develops the understanding necessary to define inter-environmental interactions leading to acid rain impacts.

Many individual processes are studied. For example, dry and wet deposition processes are currently under study. In addition to the physical processes, gas-phase and heterogeneous chemical transformations are investigated in order to better understand the mechanisms of acid rain production and its impact on human health, biodiversity, and visibility.

Photochemical smog – Research is carried out to increase the understanding of the atmospheric processes that lead to the formation of photochemical smog. In addition to anthropogenic sources, investigations of natural sources of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds are undertaken, as well as studies of the transformations, transport and deposition of these compounds. The research includes the chemical characterization of smog components, specifically particulate matter, source apportionment of chemicals, their correlation with health effects, and the transboundary flux of these pollutants. An active program of national air quality forecasting, using models and chemical data assimilation (for meteorological and chemical observations of the atmosphere) has also been underway since 2001.

Toxic chemicals – Air Toxics Research is conducted: to support the assessment and management of risk of toxic chemicals as defined by CEPA 1999 and other regulatory and policy priorities; and to consider the significance of atmospheric transport in the delivery of toxic chemicals to the Great Lakes and to the Arctic. Specialized analytical capacity is available along with ultra-trace analysis to determine complex organic constituents, elements and anions in air particulates. A variety of models, from simple trajectory through Eulerian types, is used to describe and assess atmospheric transport of toxic pollutants such as toxaphene and heavy metals.

A variety of measurement techniques and methodologies have been developed for such pollutants as mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as well as other pollutants of concern. Atmospheric surveys of toxic chemicals are under way around the Great Lakes, and regular monitoring is conducted under the National Air Pollutant Surveillance (NAPS) network as well as at Alert in the High Arctic. In addition, monitoring networks have been initiated to assess atmospheric levels of currently used pesticides and emerging chemicals (e.g., PFOS-Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and PBDE – polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

Air quality research also includes air/sea and air/water transfer of toxics. Chemical reactions of toxics in the atmosphere and the gas/particulate partitioning of toxics are also of interest. Research is conducted on the chemistry of particulate matter and aerosols from internal combustion engines as well as the measurement and characterization of air-related toxic substances emitted from mobile and stationary sources (e.g., non-ozone-related volatile organic compounds, nitro-PAH, acid aerosols).

Stratospheric pollution research – Stratospheric pollution studies are conducted in support of regulations on the use of chlorofluorocarbons. Field measurements of ozone and stratospheric trace constituents are undertaken using ground-based remote-sensing techniques and balloon-borne equipment sampling stratospheric air in-situ. The results are used to study the photochemistry of ozone in the stratosphere, especially during the Arctic spring, as well as for correlative studies with stratospheric measurements from satellites. Ground-based observing technology for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and the ultraviolet ground-level solar spectrum is being developed with the Brewer spectrophotometer.

Solar radiation studies – Solar and terrestrial radiation studies focus on the measurement science associated with the calibration and development of improved instrumentation for the study of the changing surface radiation balance, including the influence of clouds and aerosols. The research is associated with the World Climate Research Program Baseline Surface Radiation Network and the World Radiation Centre.

Note: There is no specific funding allocated to this program.

Contact

Jean-Pierre Charland
Tel.: 613-990-8560
Fax: 613-990-8568
Email:  jean-pierre.charland@canada.ca

Air Quality Research Division
Environment and Climate Change Canada
4905 Dufferin Street
Downsview, Ontario
M3H 5T4
Website: This link will take you to another Web site Air quality research

Other Laboratories

National Water Research Institute

Fields of Research

Ecosystem science; contaminant properties, fate and effects of toxic substances including endocrine disrupting substances (EDSs); exchange of toxic contaminants between air, water, sediment and biota; acid/toxic rain effects; cumulative impacts, groundwater contamination and remediation, sediment contamination and remediation, and lake rehabilitation; toxic algae/taste and smell; application of genomics and molecular tools such as DNA microarrays for detecting waterborne pathogens; ecotoxicology; large basin studies and modelling; climate change effects/UVB impacts on aquatic ecosystems; analytical methods development; quality assurance and quality control; potential ecosystem effects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs); assess the extent and effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products; waste water treatment technologies; and developing efficient processes for treatment of combined sewer overflows and stormwater.

Hydrologic modelling; remote sensing of hydrologic data; hydrology and ecology of cold regions; ice studies; groundwater and contaminants; biotechnological remediation techniques; river, wetlands, and lake ecology, including nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and contaminant interactions; development and validation of ecological indicators of ecosystem integrity; aquatic cotoxicology; impacts of land use on aquatic resources.

Note: There is no specific funding allocated to this program.

Contact

Science Liaison Branch
Tel.: 905-336-4675
Fax: 905-336-6444
Email: scienceliaison@canada.ca

National Water Research Institute
867 Lakeshore Road
Burlington, Ontario
L7R 4A6
Website: This link will take you to another Web site Water Science

Wildlife Research Centre

Fields of Research

Wildlife ecology and conservation, especially habitat selection and population dynamics of prairie waterfowl and Arctic-nesting geese, shorebirds and songbirds; ecology of, and impacts of forestry on, birds of the boreal forest; impacts of pesticides and other chemical contaminants on wildlife; ecology of prairie wetlands and their wildlife.

Contact

Dr. Robert Clark
Tel.: 306-975-4110
Fax: 306-975-4089
Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Centre

Canadian Wildlife Service
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 0X4

St. Lawrence Centre

Fields of Research

Ecosystem functioning of the St. Lawrence River in terms of its biological, physical/chemical and socio-economic components and development of new scientific techniques and methods. Approximately 60 specialists in aquatic and plant biology, inorganic chemistry, ecology of river ecosystems, ecotoxicology, hydrology, earth sciences (geography, geology, land-use planning) and socio-economics manage more than 20 scientific projects pertaining to the following issues: impacts of climate change and water levels on plant and animal life; loss and modification of wetlands; contamination of water and sediment and impacts on fauna; introduction of exotic species; impact of biotechnology; and impact of atmospheric pollutants. An accredited laboratory provides analytic services, develops methods and applications in ecotoxicology, and issues scientific opinions. Geomatics and digital mapping techniques are also integrated into the research work.

Contact
Jacinthe Leclerc
Tel.: 514-283-5869
Fax: 514-283-1719

St. Lawrence Centre
105 McGill Street, 7th Floor
Montréal, Quebec
H2Y 2E7

Environmental Science and Technology Centre (ESTC)

Fields of Research

  • Measurement of ambient air pollution
  • Environmental analytical chemistry
  • Measurement of emissions from stationary and mobile sources
  • Air pollution prevention and control technologies
  • Behaviour and effects of oil and chemical spills
  • Remote sensing, field and laboratory techniques for measuring and tracking oil and chemical spills
  • Chemical, biological, and physical countermeasures for oil and chemical spills and for cleaning up contaminated sites
  • Biological testing methods

Contact

Caroline Ladanowski
Director
Environmental Science and Technology Centre
Tel.: 613-949-8306
Fax: 613-998-0004
Email: Caroline.Ladanowski@canada.ca

Green Technologies Division

Fields of Research

The application of microwaves and radio frequency to enhance biological, chemical and physical processes. Applications are selected for their potential to reduce the release of toxic chemicals or the emission of greenhouse gases, or a combination of both (e.g., development and optimization of low-emission industrial processes, optimization of microwave-induced chemical reactions in solvent-less conditions or in benign solvents, and microwave-induced single- or multi-phase reactions).

Investigation of non-conventional thermodynamic systems with potential for low criteria air contaminants release and low-energy-consuming industrial applications (e.g., solvent-less or solid-support chemical reactions under controlled high energy density conditions, use of physical means to induce or block substrates in chemical reactions carried out under controlled high electrical fields).

Design, testing and validation of instrumentation and apparatus to perform these processes and methods.

The Division is also involved in the development and validation of analytical protocols targeting selected environmental contaminants identified by the Department as priority substances under its legislative mandate. Sample preparation activities focus on microwave- and ultrasound-assisted techniques whereas the determinative methods can call upon any HPLC- or GC- based methods coupled to appropriate detection means.

Contact

Dr. J. R. Jocelyn Paré
Tel.: 613-990-9122
Fax: 613-990-2855
Email: jocelyn.pare@canada.ca

Green Technologies Division
335 River Road
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H2
Website: This link will take you to another Web site Environment and Climate Change Canada

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