Seeking Master's Graduate Students for

Environmental Applied Science and Management Program

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Welcome to the Polar Regions Spatial and Environmental Analysis Laboratory

A changing climate is having dramatic impacts on our polar regions. Arctic ecosystems represent over 30% of Canada's landmass and are important ecosystems within the context of global climate change. The Arctic is predicted to warm by two to three times that of the global mean temperature. In September 2012 the lowest minimum extent of Arctic sea ice since satellite recordings began in 1979 was recorded, continuing a long-term downward trend. These changes parallel those of terrestrial Arctic ecosystems. For instance, satellite remote sensing recorded an increase of 9% in the average maximum greenness in the North American Arctic between 1982 and 2008. The biophysical environment constitutes the symbiotic relationships between the physical environment and biological life forms, including all variables that comprise the Earth's biosphere. Understanding how changes will be manifested on the Arctic landscape is crucial to the people of the north and to the world as a whole. Quantifying changes in biophysical patterns and the underlying processes are important to understanding future trajectories for Arctic ecosystems. Spatial information technologies such as remote sensing and geographic information science are capable of processing a variety of data to produce spatially explicit information. Through the incorporation of these technologies with a strong ecosystem approach to Arctic ecology we can better understand the patterns and processes of disturbance and climate change currently occurring within the Arctic.

Our research in the Polar Regions Spatial and Environmental Analysis Laboratory (POLAR SEAL) currently focuses on the estimation, mapping, and change detection of biophysical variables within the Low, Mid, and High Arctic ecosystems. POLAR SEAL uses remote sensing, spatial statistics, and spatial modelling to examine changes to snow cover, soil moisture, vegetation cover, biomass, and carbon dioxide exchange at various spatial scales. Changes to these biophysical variables can have broader impacts on the landscape and those that depend on it.