Masters and Doctoral research opportunities in hydrological change in the Canadian Arctic

Website Wilfrid Laurier University

Environmental Studies Department

Climate warming affects the hydrology of the Arctic through complex interactions between the climate; snow; surface and groundwater runoff; lakes, ponds and wetlands; soil moisture; permafrost; evapotranspiration; beavers; and vegetation for example. Understanding the controlling processes, as well as understanding past changes in hydrology and the range of possible future scenarios of change requires the convergence and integration of field observations; process studies; hydrologic and climate data sets; remote sensing; and high-resolution hydrologic modelling. Professor Marsh has been building such a research program in the Inuvik, NWT region over the past decades. As a main component of this effort, research has been continuously carried out at the Trail Valley Creek (TVC) Research Station ( and the Havikpak Creek watershed for the last 30 years. This research has allowed the development of a unique, long term dataset, and the testing and development of hydrologic models. Examples of past research in these watersheds are listed in Professor Marsh’s Google Scholar profile.

We invite graduate student applications for MSc and PhD positions in understanding and predicting Arctic hydrologic change under a rapidly changing climate. Potential research could include:

  • Analysis of long-term climate and hydrologic data sets at TVC and nearby areas to understand past changes in hydrology,
  • Hydrologic process studies of snow accumulation and melt; hillslope hydrology; and development of taliks and effects on suprapermafrost groundwater flow,
  • Testing and improvement of high-resolution hydrologic models to consider past changes in hydrology, and/or
  • Applying these improved hydrologic models to understand the effects of climate change scenarios on future hydrology.

Ideal candidates should have previous degrees in relevant disciplines (e.g. geography, environmental science, engineering, physics, atmospheric science), and should possess aptitude and enthusiasm for understanding the impacts of climate change on Arctic hydrology. We especially encourage applicants with an interest in high-resolution hydrologic modelling. Proficiency with appropriate modelling tools is essential. Experience in northern environments is an asset, but not required.

Graduate students receive competitive funding packages that come from a combination of teaching assistantships, internal scholarships, and research assistantships for example. All students are strongly encouraged to apply for a variety of external scholarships. Dr. Marsh’s students have been very successful in receiving such awards over the past years. International PhD applicants may apply for awards to offset the fee differential between Canadian and International student fees. Funding for Arctic field research is provided by external research grants.

Wilfrid Laurier University Geography and Environmental Studies Department has a joint graduate program with the University of Waterloo. This is the second largest Geography graduate program in Canada, and the sixth largest in North America. You will find a large number of students, research associates, post doctoral fellows, and faculty exploring a wide range of research interests and offering a challenging and stimulating research environment.

For admission in September 2021, candidates are encouraged to contact Dr. Philip Marsh. Please submit a cover letter highlighting relevant experience and your interest in joining our research team, a list of courses taken and marks, and a curriculum vitae to Philip Marsh ( with the subject line “AHRG Graduate Student”.

Dr. Philip Marsh, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Wilfrid Laurier University.

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