MSc Opportunity – Trent University

Website Trent University

Environmental and Life Sciences

Application of remote sensing to assess effects of climate on permafrost wetlands in the sub-arctic ecosystem near Hudson Bay, Ontario

Up to tow M.Sc. projects are available as part of an initiative to improve characterization of the distribution and dynamics of permafrost and wetland habitat for wildlife using remote sensing technology. Findings will advance understanding of the vulnerability of permafrost systems to global warming and the potential adverse effects of permafrost thawing to biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in the north.

The study system is the subarctic coastal ecosystem in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Ontario, bordering the southern limit of continuous permafrost in Canada. The area is used by a variety of wildlife adapted to a northern climate and there are concerns as to how climate change may affect the habitat and breeding ecology of wildlife that rely on the unique permafrost wetlands of this ecosystem. Field work will be based at the Burntpoint Research Station in Polar Bear Provincial Park, Ontario.

The project will use new ground-based field sampling and existing datasets to assess relationships among active layer thickness of permafrost, topology, hydrologic properties, vegetation characteristics, climate, and remote sensing indices. Through collaborations with Dr. Baoxin Hu (Department of Earth and Space Science, York University) and scientists at Kepler Space Inc., the projects will make use of space-borne RADARSAT-2 data products (Pol-InSAR technologies). The students will work in a collaborative team environment with other graduate students working on aspects of remote sensing technologies and wildlife ecology.

The student will be enrolled in the Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program, Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario), and under the supervision of Dr. Glen Brown. The positions are expected to begin in May or September, 2019.

A minimum stipend of $18,794 per year for two years will be provided (includes a Teaching Assistantship).

Candidates should have a solid background in environmental science or ecology and an aptitude for statistical and spatial analysis (including geographic information systems and imagery processing). Applicants with experience in climate science, geosciences, or implementing numerical models will be given preference. Candidates must be willing and able to conduct laborious field work in remote areas for extended periods of time. A willingness to become licensed in firearm use is also required due to the presence of polar bears at the field site. Prospective students should meet the minimum requirements for admission to the MSc program and possess an 80% average in the last two years of undergraduate courses.

Prospective students should send a letter of interest, a CV, unofficial transcripts, and the names of two references to Dr. Glen Brown ( Review of applications will begin immediately and the positions will remain open until suitable candidates are selected.

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