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On this page you’ll find information about environmental observation and modelling, what University of Alberta scientists are working on in this area, and the effect their work has.
Environmental observation involves collecting and monitoring information and data regarding changes and trends in industrial, economic, and global environments. These pieces of data help researchers understand changing environments to inform potential changes in things like climate change policies and disaster relief plans.
Environmental modelling (also known as sustainability modelling or ecological modelling) refers to the creation mathematical models of an environment. These models are considered simplifications of reality that help researchers better understand specific attributes of an environmental system and can help inform decision-making and policy.
Read some of the news stories about UAlberta scientists and their research as it relates to environmental observation and modelling.
Faculty of Science researcher and professor emeritus John England honoured for a lifetime of research in the Canadian Arctic.
March 16, 2018
Canadian-led environmental monitoring ranked fourth globally for Santa Rosa National Park supersite.
August 30, 2018
New mathematical model takes into account singing behaviour, improving estimates for conservation biologists.
June 12, 2018
University of Alberta biologists use light spectroscopy to study the functional diversity and evolutionary history of plants
April 26, 2018
Understanding implications of extreme behavioral changes of ice masses in Western Canada.
March 26, 2018
Model by UAlberta biologists predicts big changes due to climate change and wildfire.
May 18, 2017
University of Alberta researchers contribute to a new global study that reveals predation hotspots
November 3, 2016
Canadian scientist headed to COP 22 aims to influence rule breakers and decision makers.
Enviro-Net is a not-for-profit project developed at the University of Alberta within the Departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Computing Science, and Engineering. The web-based platform is used to explore the visualization and analysis of environmental monitoring data using a network of ground-based nodes and sensors.
The system revolutionizes environmental observation because it allows researchers to view changes in the environment in real-time without having to sift through a mire of data, and researchers around the world can access a vast amount of previously inaccessible environmental information that relates to the impacts of climate change in subarctic, boreal, and tropical environments.
For example, the system can be used to monitor entire regions of a country rather than a small amount of hectares of forest, which can allow researchers to make accurate predictions of environmental conditions, like a drought, in advance of government declarations. This kind of foresight allows for extra time for planning and managing potential environmental crises.
The creation of Enviro-Net led to a collaboration between UAlberta researchers and IBM. Using IBM's InfoSphere Streams software, researchers can collect, correlate, and analyze data as it arrives from over 500 sensors throughout various ecosystems, accelerating the process of analyzing and predicting climate changes from months to minutes.
Check out the video above for more information.
Read about Britta Jensen (assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) and her work investigating causes and effects of climate change with volcanic eruptions.
Read about Laura Redmond’s research that focuses on alpine limnology and ecological adaptations in response to climate change, and take a look at her tips for exploring in the Canadian Rockies.
Do you have questions about environmental science? Talk to some of our professors:
Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa's Research Focus: impacts of land use/cover change on biodiversity loss and habitat fragmentation in tropical, dry forest environments, remote sensing, and geographic information systems
Benoit Rivard's Research Focus: geoprocessing; development and application of innovative hyperspectral techniques for mineral exploration, combined optical and radar airborne and satellite remote sensing for geologic mapping and environmental monitoring; infrared characterization of terrestrial materials
Britta Jensen's Research Focus: quaternary geology, stratigraphy, tephrochronology, aeolian deposits in the interior of Alaska and Yukon
Duane Froese's Research Focus: quaternary geology, permafrost, tephrochronology (volcanic ash chronology), beringia, natural hazards, water isotopes
John Gamon's Research Focus: detection of plant physiology, ecosystem function, species composition, and biodiversity; optical monitoring (remote sensing and automated field methods); development of new monitoring methods and informatics tools; and monitoring the effects of disturbances on the exchanges between carbon and water vapour
John Wilson's Research Focus: micrometeorology; theory, modelling, and measurement of wind and wind transport; inverse dispersion method for determining gas emissions to the atmosphere; Lagrangian stochastic method for computing particle trajectories; and surface layer wind and wind transport
Paul Myers' Research Focus: physical oceanography, high latitude oceanography, numerical modelling, and numerical model development
Find a Professor
The University of Alberta partnered with Coursera to deliver Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to further the education of students and citizens around the world. Some courses can count towards completing certain UAlberta degrees.
Learn about the geological origins of mountains, how they contribute to local and global biodiversity, and how they are changing in the face of the rapid shifts in climate.
Enroll in the Mountains 101 MOOC and dive into a unique learning experience focused on the physical, biological, and human dimensions of mountain places in Alberta, Canada, and around the world.
The Faculty of Science boasts many award-winning faculty, students, and alumni. Read about some of them in the stories below.
Are you interested in studying environmental observation and modelling?
Find out how you can start your academic career by exploring Environmental Earth Sciences.
Find out how you can start your academic career by exploring the undergraduate programs in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
As a research institution, the University of Alberta houses many facilities to help enhance the education of our students. Check out all of the resources related to the study of Earth's systems and environments we have to offer in the links below.
Help advance the University of Alberta’s environmental science research efforts.
Looking for expert comment?
Contact Jennifer Pascoe, Director of Communications & Engagement at: