Supervisor(s): Laura Chasmer & Hopkinson, Christopher
Thesis Title: Ecosystem change in a permafrost environment due to thaw and wildlife disturbance
Bio: Northern ecosystems are changing rapidly due to a combination of climate-mediated permafrost thaw and fire disturbance. Linda is using a combination of field measurements and remote sensing data to quantify rates of change vegetation biomass and structure in burned and unburned peatlands and transitional areas between peatlands and forests. Using these methods, Linda is developing new tools to identify the environmental characteristics that are causing ecosystems to transition and is relating what she has found to long time-series optical remotely sensed data.
Bio: Boreal peatlands provide an important, long-term store of carbon within their organic soils, however, increased drying from climate changes, especially in western Canada can predispose these to increasingly severe fire. Kailyn is using a combination of time series (pre- and post-fire) lidar data and field measurements to quantify spatial variations in depth of burn and C losses from boreal peat fires. The innovative methods that Kailyn is developing will provide more detailed information on how much C is lost from peatlands due to wildland fire compared with operational C loss models, in partnership with Canadian Forest Service.
Supervisor(s): Chasmer, Laura & Hopkinson, Christopher
Bio: To understand whether ecosystems regenerate or undergo succession (ecosystem change) in the early years following a severe wildland fire, Jesse Aspinall is looking into categorizing plant species and their rates of growth (and competition) at Waterton Lakes National Park. Spatial variations are caused by a combination of post-fire soil characteristics, environmental drivers, and moisture. In addition to carbon uptake by these ecosystems, he is also interested in long-term C pools including standing and fallen tree stems and rates of tree fall. Jesse is using a combination of airborne and terrestrial lidar data and field measurements to identify post-fire standing and fallen stems, rate of tree stem fall, and understory regeneration, including seedling density.
Bio: Wetlands are some of the most biodiverse, yet sensitive ecosystems on Earth. Nick is developing innovative methods for quantifying wetland ecosystem changes in parkland and boreal regions using optical, synthetic aperture radar and lidar data within a machine learning and object-oriented framework. Nick spent 2 weeks doing fieldwork with Hatfield Consultants and grad students during summer 2020 coincident with airborne lidar surveys. Nick comes to us from Nova Scotia and has a major in computer science and minors in Geography and GIS. He is also a pilot!
Bio: To understand the implications of human disturbances on peatlands (with climate drying), Humaira is working with the Oil Sands Monitoring program to examine the cumulative impacts of fire and seismic lines on peatlands, transitional areas, and forests. To do this, she is using a combination of field data and remote sensing, allowing her to apply what she has learned from field measurements to broader regions. She is specifically interested in quantifying rates of change of deciduous shrubs vs. conifer trees within these sensitive ecosystems, compared with peatlands and transitional areas that have not undergone anthropogenic or recent (within scientific records) wildland fire.
Supervisor(s): Bonnaventure, Philip & Johnson, Dan
Bio: Nicholas Hassink is a M.Sc. Environmental Science candidate based out of the University of Lethbridge where he is currently co-supervised by Dr. Philip Bonnaventure and Dr. Daniel Johnson. Nick grew up in Cochrane, Alberta but spent most of his summers exploring the mountains around Revelstoke, British Columbia. Growing up in rural Alberta, Nick became an avid fisherman and hunter who also enjoys Golf, Skiing, and Ice Hockey. His love for the outdoors eventually took him to Lethbridge, Alberta in the fall of 2015 as he began to pursue an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. While completing his undergraduate degree, Nick was fortunate enough to find meaningful summer employment working with TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and the Alberta Invasive Species Council. His hard work paid off in December of 2019 when he graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a Co-operative Education designation. Nick’s work experience (particularly in insect pest management and the use of insects for biocontrol purposes) and education fuelled his curiosity with regards to the challenges associated with the conservation of ecologically and economically important terrestrial arthropods. His graduate level work is focused on determining the capacity for microclimatic features to cause ecologically significant modifications to surface temperature regimes in temperate mountain environments. His research is currently being conducted out of the West Castle region of Castle Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. Upon the successful completion of his thesis, Nick hopes to accurately delineate areas within the West Castle which have distinct surface level thermal regimes that promote the growth and development of these poikilothermic taxa.
Supervisor(s): Chasmer, Laura & Hopkinson, Christopher
Bio: Climatic changes in central and northern Canada are causing largely wet, carbon-rich areas such as peatlands, to become drier, thereby increasing the availability of fire fuels in these ecosystems. Emily Jones is examining the impacts of shortening of the fire return interval (or the frequency with which fires burn an ecosystem) on the resilience of bogs and fens, and environmental driving mechanisms that could cause them to shift into shrubby peatlands or upland forest. Emily is using field measurements of vegetation species, structures, and soil characteristics to quantify spatial variations in environmental drivers following fires in 1956, 2011, and a combination (double burn) of the two. Multi-temporal lidar data is used to identify pre-fire vegetation structures and post-fire rates of growth in many single vs. double-burned peatlands, exhibiting a range of spatial characteristics.
Thesis Title: Spatial and Temporal Trends of Surface Based Temperature Inversion Impact on Permafrost Distribution
Research Interests: In my undergraduate degree I developed a deep interest of understanding earth’s systems and how they interact. Particularly my interest is based around weather and climate and how those impact other earth system phenomena such as permafrost. My favorite part of research is getting out into the field and collecting data by hiking to the tops of mountains. My thesis project focuses on Surface Based Temperature Inversions in northwest Canada and how they influence Surface Air Temperatures and subsequent permafrost distribution. Unlimitedly the goal of this research is to add a better understanding to the relationship between surface-based inversions and permafrost distribution thereby contributing to making permafrost distribution modelling more accurate.
Bio: Western boreal forests and wetlands are becoming drier, creating more fuels for wildland fire. Chinyere is using pre- and post-fire airborne lidar data to examine boreal forest, transitional, and peatland vegetation structures that burn during variable severity wildland fire. She will use these datasets to determine how 3D vegetation structures are related to what burns in these environments. If time, she will use what she has learned to evaluate Landsat burn indices. Chinyere is working on the Horse River wildfire, which burned Fort McMurray. Chinyere comes to us after completing a MSc degree in Geographical Information Systems, University of Portsmouth, UK.