Environmental Observation and Modelling

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.

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.

What Is Environmental Observation?

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.

What Is Environmental Modelling?

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.

Environmental Observation Project: Enviro-Net

Enviro Net (University of Alberta)

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 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.

The Three Sisters mountain range in Alberta, Canada.

Mountains 101

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.


Latest News in Environmental Science

Read some of the news stories about UAlberta scientists and their research as it relates to environmental observation and modelling.

Read environmental observation stories


The West Basin of Quesnel Lake turned bright green in November 2014 when contaminants from the August 4, 2014 Mount Polley mine tailings spill were mixed to the surface during autumn turnover. The naturally clear blue waters of the lake are visible to the right.

Contaminants from Mount Polley tailings spill continue to affect Quesnel Lake

A tailings spill in 2014 may still be affecting the British Columbian lake, as contaminated sediment is mixed into the water column each spring and fall.

An interdisciplinary network dedicated to the sustainability of mountain environments and communities across the country and around the world, the Canadian Mountain Network unites academics, practitioners, community members, and innovators from across Canada.

Climb every mountain: Canada's newest Network of Centres of Excellence to be hosted at the University of Alberta

Canadian Mountain Network to receive $18.3M in funding over the next five years through the national Networks of Centres of Excellence program.

UAlberta Environmental Scientists

Do you have questions about environmental science? Talk to some of our professors:

  • Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa

    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

    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

    Britta Jensen's Research Focus: quaternary geology, stratigraphy, tephrochronology, aeolian deposits in the interior of Alaska and Yukon

  • Duane Froese

    Duane Froese's Research Focus: quaternary geology, permafrost, tephrochronology (volcanic ash chronology), beringia, natural hazards, water isotopes

  • John Gamon

    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

    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

    Paul Myers' Research Focus: physical oceanography, high latitude oceanography, numerical modelling, and numerical model development

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