Plenary Sessions

Monday June 11

8.30-9.00  Opening Ceremonies

9.15-10.00  Timothy Merlis:
Radiatively driven robust atmospheric circulations changes: Results from the "diabatic hierarchy" of climate models

Abstract: Changes in the atmospheric circulation under global warming scenarios play a critical role in determining the regional expression of climate change. In this talk, I discuss the important role that radiation-circulation coupling plays in determining the large-scale atmospheric circulation response to increased carbon dioxide. In both the tropics and extratropics, the climatological distribution of clouds and its effect on radiation provides robust mechanisms for circulation changes. These mechanisms have been isolated using a hierarchical approach to climate simulation, where cloud radiative effects are (de-)activated using different atmospheric model configurations that comprise a "diabatic hierarchy".

Biography: Timothy Merlis has been a professor in McGill University's Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences department since 2013. He is a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Atmospheric and Climate Dynamics. Following the completion of his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology and post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, he was awarded the 2014 American Geophysical Union James Holton Award for outstanding scientific research and accomplishments of early-career atmospheric scientists. His research aims to expose the physical mechanisms underlying climate changes.

Tuesday June 12

8.30-9.15  James Drummond: Atmospheric Research at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) 

Abstract: The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) at Eureka, Nunavut is located about halfway up Ellesmere Island, right on the 80N North latitude line and 1,100km from the pole. Eureka has been home to an Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) weather station since 1947. In 2005, a group of university and government researchers operating as an informal group called the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) substantially expanded both the equipment and the research domain of an existing facility at the site, renaming it PEARL. PEARL operates as an all-year atmospheric observatory and hosts upwards of 25 research instruments with considerable capacity for remote operations as well as on-site activities. The large number of contemporaneous measurements at PEARL offers some unique opportunities to spot linkages between atmospheric phenomena which might be missed by a smaller, more focussed effort. The cross-support provided by the various teams and the on-site resources and technical support enhances the success of the overall enterprise, and also provides a very effective learning environment for students and other young researchers for what might otherwise be a very challenging location for measurements. PEARL is currently mainly involved with the “Probing the Atmosphere of the High Arctic” (PAHA) network of the Canadian Climate and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and there has recently been a ministerial announcement in November 2017 of 18 months of continued funding into the Fall of 2019. This talk will present some of the research conducted at PEARL, highlighting some of the unique challenges and successes with some segues into the history and other challenges of running a 365/24 research observatory near the top of the world. PEARL is currently supported by NSERC, ECCC and the Canadian Space Agency.

Biography: Prof. James R. Drummond, M.A., D.Phil. FRSC graduated from the University of Oxford in England, was a faculty member of the Department of Physics, Toronto University for 27 years and then a Canada Research Chair in Remote Sounding of Atmospheres in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Dalhousie University until his recent “retirement”. He is the currently the Principal Investigator for the Measurements Of Pollution in The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument on the Terra satellite; a Co-Investigator for the instruments on the Canadian SciSat satellite; Principal Investigator of the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) at Eureka, Nunavut; the founding president of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators (CNNRO); the Chair of the Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO); and the Canadian representative to several international organisations.

9.15-10.00  Eriel Tchekwie Deranger: Inidigenous Climate Action

Abstract: From the grassroots to the UNFCCC, Indigenous peoples are working to ensure the recognition of their inherent rights are included, upheld and respected in the development of policies and solutions to address the climate crisis. Indigenous peoples represent 5% of the global population, yet their recognized Indigenous lands and territories represent 80% of the world's biodiversity, biodiversity that is critical for climate stabilization. While Indigenous communities are often viewed as the first to be impacted by the climate crisis, many of these communities house invaluable knowledge and understanding of the natural world that is now being viewed as critical for building solutions to our changing planet. This session will explore how Indigenous knowledge, expertise and rights can serve as a catalysts to changing how we define solutions, mitigation and adaptation strategies to climate change and the parametres of western science. 

Biography: Eriel Tchekwie Deranger is a mother of two and a proud Denesuline Indigenous women and member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Treaty 8 Northern Alberta. Deranger is the Executive Director and co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) - Canada’s premier Indigenous-led climate justice organization. She also sit on the Board of Bioneers and the UK Tar Sands Network. Prior to her work with ICA, Deranger worked with her First Nation to build out one of the largest intersectional and powerful keep in the ground campaigns on the planet - the international Indigenous Tar Sands campaign challenging the expansion of Alberta’s Tar Sands. Deranger is recognized for her role in interventions at UN Climate Summits; lobbying government officials in Canada, the US, the UK and the EU; developing the the Tar Sands Healing Walk in the heart of Alberta’s tar sands; spring boarding one of the first Internationally recognized Indigenous rights-based divestment movements; and working to develop and lead mass mobilizations highlighting the mass inequity of the impacts the fossil fuel industry and climate change on the rights of Indigenous peoples. Her experience working within the Environmental Justice and Indigenous Rights field is demonstrated through her with organizations like the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), and with her home Nation the ACFN.

Wednesday June 13

8.30-9.15  Roberta Hamme: Observing the ocean take a breath

Abstract: Ocean oxygen and carbon concentrations control fundamental and societally important questions from how much anthropogenic carbon the ocean takes up to which organisms thrive in which locations. The ocean’s annual cycle of uptake and release of these gases is, in a sense, like the ocean breathing. However, that “breath”, the gases absorbed by the ocean, can only reach the deep sea in a few regions where wintertime conditions allow surface waters to become very dense. Those same wintertime conditions make directly observing this “breathing” process a real challenge. I will present observations from new technologies being deployed to overcome this observational gap powerfully supplemented by shipboard measurements. I will focus on the Labrador Sea, one of the world’s few deep-water formation regions, and the object of intense Canadian research. Measurements of oxygen from sensors carried on profiling BGC-Argo (Biogeochemical-Argo) floats demonstrate that water in the winter does not spend enough time in contact with the atmosphere to absorb oxygen to its full potential and that the Labrador Sea is a region of net oxygen uptake, primarily in the winter. Participation in a major international program to deploy these BGC-Argo floats throughout the world’s oceans is being proposed in Canada. Measurements of carbon dioxide from profiling (SeaCycler) and traditional moorings demonstrate that the Labrador Sea is also a region of net carbon uptake primarily in the summer. Efforts are underway to deploy SeaCycler to collect multi-year observations. Combining these novel technologies with shipboard noble gas, oxygen, and carbon measurements made from the annual Fisheries and Oceans Canada survey across the Labrador Sea is providing insight into how the ocean takes a breath. 

Biography: Roberta Hamme is a chemical oceanographer who studies the marine carbon cycle. She works on understanding and quantifying the natural mechanisms that transport carbon from the surface ocean to the deep, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Her main tools are high precision measurements of dissolved gases, both bioactive gases like oxygen and inert gases like neon, argon, and krypton. Ongoing projects include developing methods to quantify how closely gases equilibrate with the atmosphere before surface water moves into the interior ocean, using oxygen to measure ocean productivity, and determining amounts of ocean denitrification (the transformation of bioavailable nitrate to unavailable nitrogen gas). She holds a Canada Research Chair in Ocean Carbon Dynamics at University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

9.15-10.00  Amy Mathews Amos: Breaking Through the Barriers: Communicating Science in the Post-Truth Era 

Abstract: Simply sharing your scientific knowledge with others doesn’t necessarily mean they will understand or care about your work. Grounded in the latest research on science communication, this session will explore common mistakes scientists make in communicating their work, and provide practical tools and guidance on how to make scientific findings meaningful to diverse audiences. Topics covered include understanding your audience, the importance of listening, and how to use the COMPASS Message Box for distilling and framing complex scientific topics. Discussion and opportunity for Q&A. 

Biography: As Science Communication Coach for COMPASS, Amy helps scientists navigate the alien world of journalism, giving them the tools and confidence necessary to share their expertise effectively with those outside the ivory tower. In doing so, she draws on her decades of professional experience at the interface of environmental science and public policy. That experience began with her undergraduate degree from the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, and graduate degrees in environmental science and public affairs from Indiana University. It continued to grow over 25 years as she worked in Washington D.C. for the congressional Government Accountability Office, conservation groups, a scientific society, and charitable foundations. In 2013, she completed her M.A. in Science and Medical Writing at Johns Hopkins University and began a new phase in her career as a freelance writer. Her stories on the environment and health have appeared in The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, High Country News, Ensia and other outlets. She also hones her storytelling skills each year as a selector and board member for the American Conservation Film Festival. When not pounding away at the computer, she spends as much time as possible outside hiking, kayaking, and wildlife-watching.

Thursday June 14

8.30-9.15  Kim Davies:
An Uncertain Future: The Right Whales’ Fight Against Environment, Biology and Ocean Urbanization

Abstract: North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are iconic Canadian animals that have become globally recognized as a poster child for the impacts of human activities on coastal environments. In this plenary I discuss biological adaptations right whales use to cope with a patchy and ephemeral zooplankton prey resource. These adaptations make right whales extremely susceptible to harm from certain human activities such as fishing and shipping, apparently more so that other large whales. I will explain how recent changes in the ocean environment within Canada have put the future of these animals in peril through impacting both their population biology and risk from human activities. Looking to the future, unprecedented collaborative efforts are underway that hope to improve the outlook for this species. 

Kim is a postdoctoral research associate in Oceanography at Dalhousie University. She received her BSc in biology from the University of Victoria and a PhD in Oceanography from Dalhousie. She has received several awards for her work, including the Liber Ero Postdoctoral Fellowship in conservation research in 2015, followed up in 2017 by the CNC-SCOR Early Career Ocean Scientist Award.  She began researching right whales in 2007 with the goal of improving our understanding of the environmental and biological processes affecting their habitat use in Canadian waters.  Her research and publications cover a range of areas, including environmental factors structuring right whale prey aggregations and habitat connectivity, universal energy content relationships, processes controlling whale migration, and using new sampling tools to better quantify whale-habitat relationships. In 2014 she began the Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment, an 8-year collaborative research program co-funded by government, NGOs and industry that seeks to improve knowledge of baleen whale – habitat relationships as well as adaptive conservation management of right whales through real-time acoustic monitoring.  This project was instrumental in the discovery of a new right whale habitat in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Her work has produced new oceanographic, marine-ecological and marine-mammal insights and has led to effective and practical conservation policy.   She is committed to engaging the public and policymakers on science-based decision-making and ocean conservation. 

9.15-10.00  Kevin Quigley: Risk Analysis at the Science-Policy Interface: From narrow and naïve to clunky and ambiguous 

Abstract: The study of risk is dominated by scientists, engineers, economists, and decision analysts. Their views are often underpinned by a rational actor paradigm (RAP). In this talk, we summarize the RAP view of risk and consider the important and contrasting contributions of psychology, sociology, and anthropology to the risk debate. Each field brings its own assumptions, tools, and perspectives, contributing to a much richer understanding of risk. For policy analysts working at the science-policy interface of coastal research, using one approach is narrow and naive; using all approaches is clunky and the conclusions are always ambiguous. We conclude by introducing holistic risk frameworks that accommodate – however awkwardly - competing risk rationales, and lead to a more robust response to coastal risks.

Biography: Kevin Quigley is the Scholarly Director of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance and a professor in the School of Public Administration, Dalhousie University. He specializes in public sector risk and crisis management, strategic management and critical infrastructure protection. Dr. Quigley founded the Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative, an interdisciplinary research team seeking to enhance collaboration for the management of Canada’s critical infrastructure. Dr. Quigley has published an acclaimed book on critical infrastructure, numerous articles in academic journals and his newest book, 'Too Critical to Fail: How Canada Manages Threats to Critical Infrastructure' was published in November 2017 and shortlisted for the Donner Prize.