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The following results are related to Canada. Are you interested to view more results? Visit OpenAIRE - Explore.
13 Projects, page 1 of 2

  • Canada
  • UK Research and Innovation
  • 2020

10
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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P001378/1
    Funder Contribution: 396,492 GBP
    Partners: University of Alberta, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zürich, University of London

    Transition zone seismic discontinuities (TZSDs), manifestations of mineral phase transitions or/and compositional changes between the upper mantle and the lower mantle, hold the key to resolve the mystery of mass and heat transport in the Earth's mantle and the long-term evolution of the Earth's interior. However, seismic characterizations of TZSDs are typically incomplete because of the limit in the data frequency bandwidth and sensitivity relevant to TZSDs. We innovate a simple, effective and high resolution probing of mantle discontinuity through examination of broadband forward and backward scattering waves in the context of the teleseismic receiver function method. This approach will allow us to comprehensively characterize TZSDs beneath the continents, including properties such as discontinuity topography, sharpness and gradient, shear velocity jump and density jump. To date, there has been no single study that is capable of simultaneously determining these essential seismic properties in the TZSDs. These renewed descriptions of TZSDs will be used to explore outstanding questions including mineralogical models of the transition zone and the presence of volatile/melt. In particular, we aim to address how current and past subduction determine short-term and long-term mantle mixing and whether such a mixing process may in turn shape slab sinking dynamics. A series of outstanding questions can be much better addressed with our new seismic observations: Did long-term mixing of billions of years result in apparent chemical layering as indicated in geodynamic models? What are the degree and the length scale of lateral heterogeneity if such a chemical layering exists? Is it possible that primordial structure may survive long term mixing and become trapped in the transition zone? Is the transition zone potentially a relatively shallow reservoir for long-term storage and geochemical evolution of basalt? Does chemical layering or large-scale primordial structure dictate the slab sinking dynamics? Does modern and ancient subduction recycle water into the deep mantle and transition zone? Does hydrated transition zone induce convective instability and contribute to intraplate volcanism? In the proposed work, we will use an innovative and effective observation with broadband forward and backward scattering waves to provide a comprehensive characterization of TZSDs, including properties such as discontinuity topography, sharpness, velocity and density jumps across the boundaries, and the gradient above/below the discontinuities. These unprecedentedly rich observations will provide renewed constraints on fundamental processes relevant to the Earth's interior and evolution.

  • Project . 2017 - 2020
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/P012493/1
    Funder Contribution: 284,824 GBP
    Partners: Queen's University Canada, Loughborough University, SEVERN TRENT WATER, COSTAIN LTD, CH2M HILL UNITED KINGDOM

    Infrastructure is vital for society - for economic growth and quality of life. Existing infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, the rate of which will accelerate with increasing pressures from climate change and population growth, and the condition of the large majority of assets is unknown. Stewardship of infrastructure to ensure it continuously performs its function will be a colossal challenge for asset owners and operators. The performance of new infrastructure assets must be monitored throughout their life-cycle because they are being designed and constructed to withstand largely unknown future conditions. The UK must be better prepared to face these grand challenges by exploiting technology to increase understanding of asset deterioration and improve decision making and asset management. This research is central to EPSRC's priority area of Engineering for Sustainability and Resilience. The goal is to transform geotechnical asset management by developing new, low-cost, autonomous sensing technologies for condition appraisal and real-time communication of deterioration. This new approach will sense Acoustic Emission (AE) generated by geotechnical assets. AE is generated in soil bodies and soil-structure systems (SB&SSS) by deformation, and has been proven to propagate many tens - even hundreds - of metres along structural elements. This presents an exciting opportunity that has never been exploited before: to develop autonomous sensing systems that can be distributed across structural elements (e.g. buried pipes, pile foundations, retaining walls, tunnel linings, rail track) to listen to AE - analogous to a stethoscope being used to listen to a patient's heartbeat - and provide information on the health of infrastructure in real-time. The idea to use AE sensing to monitor geotechnical assets in this way is novel - it is expected to lead to a disruptive advance in monitoring capability and revolutionise infrastructure stewardship. AE has the potential to increase our understanding of how assets are deteriorating, which could lead to improved design approaches, and to extract more information about asset condition than existing techniques: not only deformation behaviour, but also, for example, changes in stress states, transitions from pre- to post-peak shear strength, and using correlation techniques it will be possible to locate the source of AE to target maintenance and remediation activities. AE sensing will also provide real-time warnings which will enable safety-critical decisions to be made to reduce damages and lives lost as a result of geotechnical asset failures. The number of asset monitoring locations required per unit length to achieve sufficient spatial resolution will be less than other monitoring techniques, and significantly lower cost. Piezoelectric transducers, which sense the AE, are now being developed at costs as low as a few tens of pence per sensor - this recent technological advance makes this research timely. AE sensors could be installed during construction to monitor condition throughout the life-cycle of new-build assets (e.g. HS2), and retrofitted to existing, ageing assets. This will be the most fundamental and ambitious investigation into the understanding of AE generated by SB&SSS yet attempted. The findings will mark a major leap forward in scientific understanding and our ability to exploit AE in novel asset health monitoring systems. The fellowship aims to develop robust diagnostic frameworks and analytics to interpret AE generated by geotechnical assets. This will be achieved using a powerful set of complementary element and large-scale experiments. The outcomes will be demonstrated to end-users and plans will be developed with collaborators for: full-scale field testing with in-service assets to demonstrate performance and benefits in intended applications and environments; and implementation in commercial products that could have significant societal and economic impact.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/S007245/1
    Funder Contribution: 80,879 GBP
    Partners: SAMS, University of Manitoba, UAF

    Sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean has seen a steady decline since satellite-borne measurements began in the late 1970s. Sea ice supports the growth of ice algae, a fundamental component of the Arctic carbon cycle, providing food to Arctic animals. When sea ice melts every spring, ice algae are released to the water where they are either consumed by pelagic animals, or sink to the seafloor. Gaining an accurate understanding of these pathways for this important energy rich carbon resource represents a major scientific challenge that holds the key to understanding the future of Arctic ecosystems. However, until recently, this has not been possible because of the challenges associated with distinguishing sea ice carbon from other similar sources of carbon, such as phytoplankton. Having recently overcome these challenges in the last 3 years, it is now possible to unambiguously trace the pathway of sea ice-derived carbon. Recent findings have therefore shown that sea ice-derived carbon can be found in Arctic animals year-round. This is believed to be because excess (not consumed during sinking) sea ice-derived carbon that sinks can also become 'stored' within sediments where it can remain available as a food source to animals year-round. Consequently, if this idea is correct, our present assumption of the role sea ice carbon plays in the ecosystem is severely underestimating its importance. This project will bring together the expertise of British, Canadian and American scientists in a new collaborative partnership to assess whether the seafloor (e.g. rock, sand, mud, silt) acts as a 'store' of Arctic sea ice-derived primary production that can be considered available for marine animals to consume. Completion of the project aims relies upon collaboration between Brown's established (Mundy) and new (Iken) links within the assembled team. We will carry out studies on the marine region around Southampton Island, northwest Hudson Bay (Nunavut) which encompasses one of Canada's largest summer and winter aggregations of Arctic marine mammals. By sharing resources with a funded Canadian research project we will access a unique field site to collect primary preliminary data to improve understanding of ecosystem structure and function. Our findings will be relevant to the whole Arctic region and so will stimulate new research interests on an international scale.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/K010875/2
    Funder Contribution: 311,258 GBP
    Partners: IFM GEOMAR, UH, University of Southampton, Scottish Ocean Explorer Centre, IFREMER Res Inst Exploration of the Sea, University of Reading, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Duke University, DECC, Royal Netherlands Inst for Sea Res NOIZ...

    UK-OSNAP: Summary What is climate? The sun's energy is constantly heating the Earth in equatorial regions, while in the Arctic and Antarctic the Earth is frozen and constantly losing heat. Ocean currents and atmospheric weather together move heat from the equator towards the poles to keep the Earth's regional temperatures in balance. So climate is simply the heat moved by ocean currents and by the weather. Earth's climate is warming: the average temperature of the Earth is rising at a rate of about 0.75 degrees Centigrade per hundred years, caused by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trapping heat that is normally lost to space. Can we forecast how climate might change in the future? There is an old adage that rings true: "Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get". Hot weather in one summer does not tell us that climate is changing because the weather is so variable day-to-day and even year-to-year. We need to average over all the weather for a long time to decide if the climate is changing. We would like to know if the climate is changing before our descendants face the consequences, and that is where our project comes in. The ultimate ambition of climate scientists is nothing less than forecasting climate up to 10 years in advance. Is this possible? After all we know weather forecasts become somewhat unreliable after three to five days. The answer is yes because of the ocean. Slow and deep currents give the ocean a memory from years to hundreds of years, and the ocean passes this memory onto the climate. If we know the condition of the ocean now, then we have a good chance of understanding how this will affect the climate in years to come. We have set ourselves a huge task, but will be helped by colleagues in the US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark and Scotland. We will continuously measure the ocean circulation from Canada to Greenland to Scotland (the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean). This has never been attempted before. We have chosen the North Atlantic because the circulation here is important for the whole of Earth's climate. This is because in the high latitudes of the North Atlantic, and the Arctic Ocean that it connects to, the ocean can efficiently imprint its memory on the atmosphere by releasing the huge amounts of heat stored in it. In the UK we are on the same latitude as Canada and Siberia, and the Shetland Islands are further north than the southern tips of Greenland and Alaska, but the Atlantic Ocean circulation keeps the UK 5-10 degrees Centigrade warmer than those other countries. We can measure across an entire ocean by deploying reliable, self-recording instruments. We will use moorings (wires anchored to the seabed and supported in the water by air-filled glass spheres) to hold the instruments in the important locations. Every year from 2014 to 2018 we will use ships to recover the moorings and the data, then put the instruments back in the water. We will also use exciting new technology. Autonomous underwater Seagliders will fly from the surface to 1 km depth on year long-missions surveying the ocean, from Scotland to 2000 km westward into the Atlantic. The Seagliders transmit their data to our lab every day via satellite, and the pilot can fly the glider remotely. Also there is a global fleet of 3000 drifting floats to continuously measure the top 1 km of the ocean. Satellites provide important measurements of the ocean surface. With these new measurements, we will find how the heat carried by the ocean changes through the months and years of the project, and we will use complex computer models to help explain what we find.

  • Project . 2017 - 2020
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/R002703/1
    Funder Contribution: 35,882 GBP
    Partners: University of Kent, Carleton University

    The material turn has come late to law, though it has shaped works in anthropology, history, philosophy, and science and technology studies. It is concerned with the roles that non-human objects play in human actions and relationships. We employ the term 'legal materiality' to emphasise that legality is not a determined status, but that legal power varies depending on law's specific techniques of representation, media and institutional settings. Such a materialist approach asks how material elements in legal processes, such as images or software, influence the persuasiveness of evidence or classify certain individuals into target populations. Moreover, a new materialist approach towards law explores the multiple ways in which law acts on different matters across society. Law becomes material by exerting tangible and corporeal effects, such as on the bodies of women, the ill, prisoners or refugees. Such a legal materialist approach entails the view that a full picture of legality is not to be found in legal doctrines and their textual interpretation, but across different objects in society. This calls for supplementing existing approaches to law. For example, a legal materialist approach provides a more insightful analysis of the 2017 executive order issued by the American president that sought to temporarily suspend travel of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Whereas a doctrinal approach addresses the constitutional basis of the order and its interpretation by the judiciary, the lens of legal materiality places this text in the context of its material genesis, mediation and tangible effects: from the placing of words in the order, to the inscription of the president's signature on paper, to its digital dissemination through social media platforms, to biopolitical effects on targeted individual bodies and their ability to move across space. A legal materialist lens would expose the concrete genesis, media shifts, and the differential effects on targeted groups of population of the legal instrument in full. Understanding the meaning and effects of these steps requires critical analysis, drawing upon expertise from the humanities and interpretive social sciences, as well as a sensibility for the specific properties of legal matters: paper, social media platforms, border spaces, and human bodies. To facilitate such interdisciplinary analysis of law's social and cultural effects, we will create a new network of scholars working on legal materiality. The central aim of the network is to build a novel platform for exploring the relationships between legal processes and human and non-human entities. The network will bring people from different traditions in the arts and humanities (including law, history, literature, anthropology, media and science studies) who are working on aspects of law and new materialisms, together with artists and policy actors, to develop novel research approaches. The network will address a range of questions, such as: how do texts and interpretive practices relate to objects, bodies and spaces?; What are the implications of actor network theory and other new materialist approaches for legal scholarship? What are their limitations?; What resources can be drawn from the humanities, the interpretive social sciences and artistic communities to better understand the effects of new technological developments in law? Activities comprise four events, beginning with a cross-disciplinary event and culminating with an international conference. We will foster deliberative public engagement and exchange in the second public event that will bring into conversation academics, artists and activists who have worked on law's material forces, particularly digital surveillance and privacy. Through open exchange and dissemination, network participants will shape research agendas on law's effects within and beyond the academy. It will lay the groundwork for a new approach to law.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P004180/1
    Funder Contribution: 255,029 GBP
    Partners: University of Glasgow, RU, SFU, UCSC

    Natural mortality and environmental resources are intimately related to physiology, body size, fecundity, and lifespan, all of which play an instrumental role in population dynamics. Yet mortality and resource limitation are notoriously difficult to measure in wild populations, hindering our ability to prioritize marine species that are at greatest risk of overexploitation. Crucially, we lack mechanistic theory linking physiology, life histories and population dynamics. Our central hypothesis is that evolutionary theory can take the place of missing information on demographic rates or population trends, and can be used to combine data from similar species to predict population dynamics. We propose to develop a scientific research program to test this idea and add to our knowledge of the processes regulating the dynamics of marine populations. We will use a combination of evolutionary theory and hierarchical Bayesian state-space models of data to infer and predict the life history and population dynamics of three marine fish clades with diverse life histories: sharks and rays, tunas, and groupers. Specifically, we will 1) use state-dependent life history theory to develop evolutionary priors for demographic rates, including mortality and resource limitation and 2) use state-space models to impute the population trajectories of related species, given our evolutionary priors. This will 3) generate and refine new theory for the evolution of sharks and rays, groupers, and tunas that can ultimately be tested comparatively. Finally, we will 4) engage in species' assessments, training, and outreach to boost the broader impacts of our work. Our research will produce theory predicting the demographic rates that are correlated with suites of life history traits, and then generate more precise posterior estimates of these demographic rates by fitting a structured population model. This integrative approach will allow us to refine and validate our results with species that have been assessed, and then to assess the vulnerability of data-limited and potentially endangered species of sharks and rays, groupers, and tunas. Along the way, our work will generate new insights about the relationship between life-history traits of marine species, environmental drivers such as resources and mortality, and resilience to anthropogenic or environmental perturbations. Intellectual Merit : We take a new approach to linking evolutionary theory with ecological data. While previous work has used evolutionarily derived priors in fishery stock assessments (He et al. 2006; Mangel et al. 2010), this research will provide a mechanistic framework assessing how stage-specific mortality and resource limitation determine life history evolution and population dynamics. The novelty of this approach is that we are not hardwiring our assumptions about life history trait co-variation into the model. We will test our predictions for how resources and natural mortality select on life histories by confronting our population dynamics model with real-world data from wild fishes.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/R004730/2
    Funder Contribution: 16,698 GBP
    Partners: Abdus Salam ICTP, SISSA - ISAS, University of Oxford, University of Toronto

    The subject of study of differential geometry are smooth manifolds, which correspond to smooth curved objects of finite dimension. In modern differential geometry, it is becoming more and more common to consider sequences (or flows) of smooth manifolds. Typically the limits of such sequences (or flows) are non smooth anymore. It is then useful to isolate a natural class of non smooth objects which generalize the classical notion of smooth manifold, and which is closed under the process of taking limits. If the sequence of manifolds satisfy a lower bound on the sectional curvatures, a natural class of non-smooth objects which is closed under (Gromov-Hausdorff) convergence is given by special metric spaces known as Alexandrov spaces; if instead the sequence of manifolds satisfy a lower bound on the Ricci curvatures, a natural class of non-smooth objects, closed under (measured Gromov-Hausdorff) convergence, is given by special metric measure spaces (i.e. metric spaces endowed with a reference volume measure) known as RCD(K,N) spaces. These are a 'Riemannian' refinement of the so called CD(K,N) spaces of Lott-Sturm-Villani, which are metric measure spaces with Ricci curvature bounded below by K and dimension bounded above by N in a synthetic sense via optimal transport. In the proposed project we aim to understand in more detail the structure, the analytic and the geometric properties of RCD(K,N) spaces. The new results will have an impact also on the classical world of smooth manifolds satisfying curvature bounds.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/P010393/1
    Funder Contribution: 387,936 GBP
    Partners: UBC, Imperial College London, British Dam Society, University of Surrey, TIT, Rodney Bridle, University of Nantes, H R Wallingford Ltd, Arup Group Ltd

    Civil engineering works often encounter water flowing through the ground. Examples include embankment dams, flood walls and embankments, excavations beneath the water table, tunnels and deep basements. When considering their design, engineers seek to avoid cases where the buoyancy forces exerted by the seeping water are sufficient to reduce the effective stress in the soil to zero, resulting in heave failure or "quicksand". This critical scenario is identified by considering the soil to be a continuous, but porous material. However soil is made up of individual particles of varying size and shape. Awareness is growing that seepage forces imparted on the particles can preferentially erode the smaller particles in sandy soils. There can be significant internal erosion of the soil under scenarios that are considered safe according to the classical continuum calculations used in engineering practice; this phenomenon is called internal instability. We will improve understanding of internal instability and thereby our knowledge of how to design and assess infrastructure safely, by studying the fundamental, particle scale mechanisms involved. Internationally, several research groups are undertaking relatively large experiments of this problem. The particle-scale emphasis in the proposed research will complement, rather than supplement, these studies. The specific research direction originates from our prior research, recently published experimental data from other groups, and consideration of recently published design guidelines (e.g. the International Levee Handbook) and the proposed modifications to the hydraulic failure guidelines in the Eurocode EC7 for geotechnical design. This cross-institutional proposal will combine experimental expertise in testing transparent soil at the University of Sheffield (UoS) with skills in discrete element modelling (DEM) at Imperial College London (IC). We will use these techniques in their most advanced form. At UoS testing facilities equipped with a laser light source will be developed to enable visualization of particle movement inside soil samples while also using tracer particles to observe fluid flow. The development of a triaxial stress path apparatus where the confining and deviatoric stress can be controlled while making these observations will be a particularly novel aspect of this research. IC will continue to champion the use of high performance computing to enable geomechanics DEM simulations and the project will exploit recent work that was carried out in the Department of Mechanical Engineering to enable DEM simulations to be coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of the fluid flow. Both UoS and IC have been working independently to examine the problem of internal instability and so this proposal marks a timely collaboration to unify their complementary skill sets. For example the DEM model can provide information about particle stresses that cannot be measured in the laboratory, while instability can be directly observed for real materials in the physical tests without any of the idealizations and assumptions which are inherent in any numerical model. The research will clarify: (i) Which materials are initially susceptible to internal instability with volume change and the conditions whereby a material that initially erodes at a constant volume (i.e. settlement or collapse of the particle structure), transitions to having volume change. (ii) Whether seepage velocity or hydraulic pressure gradient correlates better with the initiation of erosion. (iii) How the stress level influences susceptibility; particularly considering stress anisotropy and the relation between principal stress orientation and seepage direction.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P00251X/1
    Funder Contribution: 308,796 GBP
    Partners: Uppsala University, Dalhousie University, University of Bristol

    The origin of eukaryotes from their prokaryotic progenitors was one of the most formative transitions in the history of life, catalysing the blossoming of eukaryotic biodiversity into the astonishing range of forms we see today, from the largest organisms on our planet - blue whales, giant sequoias, fungal networks extending for miles underground - to microscopic plankton that jostle with bacteria in the world's oceans. Explaining the leap in cellular complexity during the prokaryote-to-eukaryote transition is one of the outstanding challenges in 21st-century biology. The common structure of all eukaryotic cells testifies to their shared ancestry, but our understanding of the kind of cell that ancestral eukaryote was - where it lived, what it ate, the kinds of biochemical reactions it could perform - is in disarray. Whole-genome data have enabled us to resolve the more recent divergences in eukaryotic evolution, but we still have a very poor understanding of the deeper relationships between the main groups at the base of the evolutionary tree. In particular, the root of the tree - the starting point of the eukaryotic radiation - remains mired in controversy and debate. The problem is that traditional rooting methods rely on the use of an outgroup: to find the root of the tree of mammals, for example, we might include birds in the analysis, and then use our a priori knowledge to place the root on the branch between the two groups. This approach breaks down when applied to the eukaryotic radiation: including our closest prokaryotic relatives greatly reduces the proportion of the eukaryotic genome that can be analysed, and the enormous evolutionary distance to the prokaryotic outgroup obscures the relationships among the different eukaryotic lineages. As a result, recent analyses of the eukaryotic root disagree strongly on its position, despite using similar datasets and analytical approaches. In this project, we will tackle these difficulties head-on to definitively resolve the root of the eukaryotic tree by applying new outgroup-free rooting approaches, including some pioneered by members of the project team, to the most up-to-date, representative sampling of eukaryotic genomic diversity yet assembled. We will use the resulting phylogenomic framework to map the points in evolutionary history at which the unique cellular and genomic traits of modern eukaryotes first evolved, establishing a timescale for the evolution of key eukaryotic innovations. By mapping these traits onto the tree, we will reconstruct a detailed cellular and genomic model of the ancestral eukaryote - an organism which may have lived up to two billion years ago - in order to establish its lifestyle, ecology, and metabolism, and to test hypotheses of how that founding lineage gave rise to the staggering diversity of eukaryotic life we see today. The work we are proposing is fundamental discovery science: the ultimate goal is to understand our own origins, to bring clarity to a poorly-understood period in the history of life vitally important for making sense of the biodiversity we see around us today, and in doing so to establish a new state-of-the-art for phylogenetic rooting with broad applicability to other major evolutionary transitions across the tree of life. But there is also real potential for broader socio-economic impact. Some of the groups that branch near the base of eukaryotic tree are parasitic, and so establishing how these evolved from their free-living ancestors will provide new, much-needed insights into the adaptation of eukaryotic parasites such as Trypanosoma (sleeping sickness) and Giardia to their hosts. As part of the research programme, we will host summer internships for motivated students on biohacking (DIY computational biology), providing a taste of scientific discovery and teaching the crucial computational, statistical and scientific skills needed to identify and nurture the next generation of scientific leaders.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/R005125/1
    Funder Contribution: 40,419 GBP
    Partners: Max Planck, Alfred Wegener Inst for Polar & Marine R, CERFACS, UCI, Met Office, EnviroSim (Canada), Gwangju Institute of Science & Technolog, AER, BSC, NCAR...

    The loss of Arctic sea-ice is one of the most compelling manifestations of man-made climate change. Profound environmental change is already affecting Arctic inhabitants and ecosystems. Increasing scientific evidence, including many key papers by the PI, suggests the impacts of sea-ice loss will be felt way beyond the poles. Linkages between Arctic sea-ice loss and extreme mid-latitude weather have become an area of increasing scholarly enquiry and societal interest. Yet, significant knowledge gaps remain that demand urgent attention; in particular, the robustness of response to sea-ice loss - and its underpinning physical causes - across different climate models. The Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project (PA-MIP) will significantly advance the state-of-the-art in understanding and modelling the climate response to Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice loss. It will enable deeper understanding of the causes and global effects of past and future polar change, and the physical mechanisms involved. PA-MIP is a novel and unique collaboration of UK and international scientists. To promote fruitful collaboration and drive research excellence, this proposal supports two key activities: a secondment scheme and a synthesis workshop, both with direct benefit to NERC-funded science.

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The following results are related to Canada. Are you interested to view more results? Visit OpenAIRE - Explore.
13 Projects, page 1 of 2
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P001378/1
    Funder Contribution: 396,492 GBP
    Partners: University of Alberta, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zürich, University of London

    Transition zone seismic discontinuities (TZSDs), manifestations of mineral phase transitions or/and compositional changes between the upper mantle and the lower mantle, hold the key to resolve the mystery of mass and heat transport in the Earth's mantle and the long-term evolution of the Earth's interior. However, seismic characterizations of TZSDs are typically incomplete because of the limit in the data frequency bandwidth and sensitivity relevant to TZSDs. We innovate a simple, effective and high resolution probing of mantle discontinuity through examination of broadband forward and backward scattering waves in the context of the teleseismic receiver function method. This approach will allow us to comprehensively characterize TZSDs beneath the continents, including properties such as discontinuity topography, sharpness and gradient, shear velocity jump and density jump. To date, there has been no single study that is capable of simultaneously determining these essential seismic properties in the TZSDs. These renewed descriptions of TZSDs will be used to explore outstanding questions including mineralogical models of the transition zone and the presence of volatile/melt. In particular, we aim to address how current and past subduction determine short-term and long-term mantle mixing and whether such a mixing process may in turn shape slab sinking dynamics. A series of outstanding questions can be much better addressed with our new seismic observations: Did long-term mixing of billions of years result in apparent chemical layering as indicated in geodynamic models? What are the degree and the length scale of lateral heterogeneity if such a chemical layering exists? Is it possible that primordial structure may survive long term mixing and become trapped in the transition zone? Is the transition zone potentially a relatively shallow reservoir for long-term storage and geochemical evolution of basalt? Does chemical layering or large-scale primordial structure dictate the slab sinking dynamics? Does modern and ancient subduction recycle water into the deep mantle and transition zone? Does hydrated transition zone induce convective instability and contribute to intraplate volcanism? In the proposed work, we will use an innovative and effective observation with broadband forward and backward scattering waves to provide a comprehensive characterization of TZSDs, including properties such as discontinuity topography, sharpness, velocity and density jumps across the boundaries, and the gradient above/below the discontinuities. These unprecedentedly rich observations will provide renewed constraints on fundamental processes relevant to the Earth's interior and evolution.

  • Project . 2017 - 2020
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/P012493/1
    Funder Contribution: 284,824 GBP
    Partners: Queen's University Canada, Loughborough University, SEVERN TRENT WATER, COSTAIN LTD, CH2M HILL UNITED KINGDOM

    Infrastructure is vital for society - for economic growth and quality of life. Existing infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, the rate of which will accelerate with increasing pressures from climate change and population growth, and the condition of the large majority of assets is unknown. Stewardship of infrastructure to ensure it continuously performs its function will be a colossal challenge for asset owners and operators. The performance of new infrastructure assets must be monitored throughout their life-cycle because they are being designed and constructed to withstand largely unknown future conditions. The UK must be better prepared to face these grand challenges by exploiting technology to increase understanding of asset deterioration and improve decision making and asset management. This research is central to EPSRC's priority area of Engineering for Sustainability and Resilience. The goal is to transform geotechnical asset management by developing new, low-cost, autonomous sensing technologies for condition appraisal and real-time communication of deterioration. This new approach will sense Acoustic Emission (AE) generated by geotechnical assets. AE is generated in soil bodies and soil-structure systems (SB&SSS) by deformation, and has been proven to propagate many tens - even hundreds - of metres along structural elements. This presents an exciting opportunity that has never been exploited before: to develop autonomous sensing systems that can be distributed across structural elements (e.g. buried pipes, pile foundations, retaining walls, tunnel linings, rail track) to listen to AE - analogous to a stethoscope being used to listen to a patient's heartbeat - and provide information on the health of infrastructure in real-time. The idea to use AE sensing to monitor geotechnical assets in this way is novel - it is expected to lead to a disruptive advance in monitoring capability and revolutionise infrastructure stewardship. AE has the potential to increase our understanding of how assets are deteriorating, which could lead to improved design approaches, and to extract more information about asset condition than existing techniques: not only deformation behaviour, but also, for example, changes in stress states, transitions from pre- to post-peak shear strength, and using correlation techniques it will be possible to locate the source of AE to target maintenance and remediation activities. AE sensing will also provide real-time warnings which will enable safety-critical decisions to be made to reduce damages and lives lost as a result of geotechnical asset failures. The number of asset monitoring locations required per unit length to achieve sufficient spatial resolution will be less than other monitoring techniques, and significantly lower cost. Piezoelectric transducers, which sense the AE, are now being developed at costs as low as a few tens of pence per sensor - this recent technological advance makes this research timely. AE sensors could be installed during construction to monitor condition throughout the life-cycle of new-build assets (e.g. HS2), and retrofitted to existing, ageing assets. This will be the most fundamental and ambitious investigation into the understanding of AE generated by SB&SSS yet attempted. The findings will mark a major leap forward in scientific understanding and our ability to exploit AE in novel asset health monitoring systems. The fellowship aims to develop robust diagnostic frameworks and analytics to interpret AE generated by geotechnical assets. This will be achieved using a powerful set of complementary element and large-scale experiments. The outcomes will be demonstrated to end-users and plans will be developed with collaborators for: full-scale field testing with in-service assets to demonstrate performance and benefits in intended applications and environments; and implementation in commercial products that could have significant societal and economic impact.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/S007245/1
    Funder Contribution: 80,879 GBP
    Partners: SAMS, University of Manitoba, UAF

    Sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean has seen a steady decline since satellite-borne measurements began in the late 1970s. Sea ice supports the growth of ice algae, a fundamental component of the Arctic carbon cycle, providing food to Arctic animals. When sea ice melts every spring, ice algae are released to the water where they are either consumed by pelagic animals, or sink to the seafloor. Gaining an accurate understanding of these pathways for this important energy rich carbon resource represents a major scientific challenge that holds the key to understanding the future of Arctic ecosystems. However, until recently, this has not been possible because of the challenges associated with distinguishing sea ice carbon from other similar sources of carbon, such as phytoplankton. Having recently overcome these challenges in the last 3 years, it is now possible to unambiguously trace the pathway of sea ice-derived carbon. Recent findings have therefore shown that sea ice-derived carbon can be found in Arctic animals year-round. This is believed to be because excess (not consumed during sinking) sea ice-derived carbon that sinks can also become 'stored' within sediments where it can remain available as a food source to animals year-round. Consequently, if this idea is correct, our present assumption of the role sea ice carbon plays in the ecosystem is severely underestimating its importance. This project will bring together the expertise of British, Canadian and American scientists in a new collaborative partnership to assess whether the seafloor (e.g. rock, sand, mud, silt) acts as a 'store' of Arctic sea ice-derived primary production that can be considered available for marine animals to consume. Completion of the project aims relies upon collaboration between Brown's established (Mundy) and new (Iken) links within the assembled team. We will carry out studies on the marine region around Southampton Island, northwest Hudson Bay (Nunavut) which encompasses one of Canada's largest summer and winter aggregations of Arctic marine mammals. By sharing resources with a funded Canadian research project we will access a unique field site to collect primary preliminary data to improve understanding of ecosystem structure and function. Our findings will be relevant to the whole Arctic region and so will stimulate new research interests on an international scale.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/K010875/2
    Funder Contribution: 311,258 GBP
    Partners: IFM GEOMAR, UH, University of Southampton, Scottish Ocean Explorer Centre, IFREMER Res Inst Exploration of the Sea, University of Reading, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Duke University, DECC, Royal Netherlands Inst for Sea Res NOIZ...

    UK-OSNAP: Summary What is climate? The sun's energy is constantly heating the Earth in equatorial regions, while in the Arctic and Antarctic the Earth is frozen and constantly losing heat. Ocean currents and atmospheric weather together move heat from the equator towards the poles to keep the Earth's regional temperatures in balance. So climate is simply the heat moved by ocean currents and by the weather. Earth's climate is warming: the average temperature of the Earth is rising at a rate of about 0.75 degrees Centigrade per hundred years, caused by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere trapping heat that is normally lost to space. Can we forecast how climate might change in the future? There is an old adage that rings true: "Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get". Hot weather in one summer does not tell us that climate is changing because the weather is so variable day-to-day and even year-to-year. We need to average over all the weather for a long time to decide if the climate is changing. We would like to know if the climate is changing before our descendants face the consequences, and that is where our project comes in. The ultimate ambition of climate scientists is nothing less than forecasting climate up to 10 years in advance. Is this possible? After all we know weather forecasts become somewhat unreliable after three to five days. The answer is yes because of the ocean. Slow and deep currents give the ocean a memory from years to hundreds of years, and the ocean passes this memory onto the climate. If we know the condition of the ocean now, then we have a good chance of understanding how this will affect the climate in years to come. We have set ourselves a huge task, but will be helped by colleagues in the US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark and Scotland. We will continuously measure the ocean circulation from Canada to Greenland to Scotland (the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean). This has never been attempted before. We have chosen the North Atlantic because the circulation here is important for the whole of Earth's climate. This is because in the high latitudes of the North Atlantic, and the Arctic Ocean that it connects to, the ocean can efficiently imprint its memory on the atmosphere by releasing the huge amounts of heat stored in it. In the UK we are on the same latitude as Canada and Siberia, and the Shetland Islands are further north than the southern tips of Greenland and Alaska, but the Atlantic Ocean circulation keeps the UK 5-10 degrees Centigrade warmer than those other countries. We can measure across an entire ocean by deploying reliable, self-recording instruments. We will use moorings (wires anchored to the seabed and supported in the water by air-filled glass spheres) to hold the instruments in the important locations. Every year from 2014 to 2018 we will use ships to recover the moorings and the data, then put the instruments back in the water. We will also use exciting new technology. Autonomous underwater Seagliders will fly from the surface to 1 km depth on year long-missions surveying the ocean, from Scotland to 2000 km westward into the Atlantic. The Seagliders transmit their data to our lab every day via satellite, and the pilot can fly the glider remotely. Also there is a global fleet of 3000 drifting floats to continuously measure the top 1 km of the ocean. Satellites provide important measurements of the ocean surface. With these new measurements, we will find how the heat carried by the ocean changes through the months and years of the project, and we will use complex computer models to help explain what we find.

  • Project . 2017 - 2020
    Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/R002703/1
    Funder Contribution: 35,882 GBP
    Partners: University of Kent, Carleton University

    The material turn has come late to law, though it has shaped works in anthropology, history, philosophy, and science and technology studies. It is concerned with the roles that non-human objects play in human actions and relationships. We employ the term 'legal materiality' to emphasise that legality is not a determined status, but that legal power varies depending on law's specific techniques of representation, media and institutional settings. Such a materialist approach asks how material elements in legal processes, such as images or software, influence the persuasiveness of evidence or classify certain individuals into target populations. Moreover, a new materialist approach towards law explores the multiple ways in which law acts on different matters across society. Law becomes material by exerting tangible and corporeal effects, such as on the bodies of women, the ill, prisoners or refugees. Such a legal materialist approach entails the view that a full picture of legality is not to be found in legal doctrines and their textual interpretation, but across different objects in society. This calls for supplementing existing approaches to law. For example, a legal materialist approach provides a more insightful analysis of the 2017 executive order issued by the American president that sought to temporarily suspend travel of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries. Whereas a doctrinal approach addresses the constitutional basis of the order and its interpretation by the judiciary, the lens of legal materiality places this text in the context of its material genesis, mediation and tangible effects: from the placing of words in the order, to the inscription of the president's signature on paper, to its digital dissemination through social media platforms, to biopolitical effects on targeted individual bodies and their ability to move across space. A legal materialist lens would expose the concrete genesis, media shifts, and the differential effects on targeted groups of population of the legal instrument in full. Understanding the meaning and effects of these steps requires critical analysis, drawing upon expertise from the humanities and interpretive social sciences, as well as a sensibility for the specific properties of legal matters: paper, social media platforms, border spaces, and human bodies. To facilitate such interdisciplinary analysis of law's social and cultural effects, we will create a new network of scholars working on legal materiality. The central aim of the network is to build a novel platform for exploring the relationships between legal processes and human and non-human entities. The network will bring people from different traditions in the arts and humanities (including law, history, literature, anthropology, media and science studies) who are working on aspects of law and new materialisms, together with artists and policy actors, to develop novel research approaches. The network will address a range of questions, such as: how do texts and interpretive practices relate to objects, bodies and spaces?; What are the implications of actor network theory and other new materialist approaches for legal scholarship? What are their limitations?; What resources can be drawn from the humanities, the interpretive social sciences and artistic communities to better understand the effects of new technological developments in law? Activities comprise four events, beginning with a cross-disciplinary event and culminating with an international conference. We will foster deliberative public engagement and exchange in the second public event that will bring into conversation academics, artists and activists who have worked on law's material forces, particularly digital surveillance and privacy. Through open exchange and dissemination, network participants will shape research agendas on law's effects within and beyond the academy. It will lay the groundwork for a new approach to law.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P004180/1
    Funder Contribution: 255,029 GBP
    Partners: University of Glasgow, RU, SFU, UCSC

    Natural mortality and environmental resources are intimately related to physiology, body size, fecundity, and lifespan, all of which play an instrumental role in population dynamics. Yet mortality and resource limitation are notoriously difficult to measure in wild populations, hindering our ability to prioritize marine species that are at greatest risk of overexploitation. Crucially, we lack mechanistic theory linking physiology, life histories and population dynamics. Our central hypothesis is that evolutionary theory can take the place of missing information on demographic rates or population trends, and can be used to combine data from similar species to predict population dynamics. We propose to develop a scientific research program to test this idea and add to our knowledge of the processes regulating the dynamics of marine populations. We will use a combination of evolutionary theory and hierarchical Bayesian state-space models of data to infer and predict the life history and population dynamics of three marine fish clades with diverse life histories: sharks and rays, tunas, and groupers. Specifically, we will 1) use state-dependent life history theory to develop evolutionary priors for demographic rates, including mortality and resource limitation and 2) use state-space models to impute the population trajectories of related species, given our evolutionary priors. This will 3) generate and refine new theory for the evolution of sharks and rays, groupers, and tunas that can ultimately be tested comparatively. Finally, we will 4) engage in species' assessments, training, and outreach to boost the broader impacts of our work. Our research will produce theory predicting the demographic rates that are correlated with suites of life history traits, and then generate more precise posterior estimates of these demographic rates by fitting a structured population model. This integrative approach will allow us to refine and validate our results with species that have been assessed, and then to assess the vulnerability of data-limited and potentially endangered species of sharks and rays, groupers, and tunas. Along the way, our work will generate new insights about the relationship between life-history traits of marine species, environmental drivers such as resources and mortality, and resilience to anthropogenic or environmental perturbations. Intellectual Merit : We take a new approach to linking evolutionary theory with ecological data. While previous work has used evolutionarily derived priors in fishery stock assessments (He et al. 2006; Mangel et al. 2010), this research will provide a mechanistic framework assessing how stage-specific mortality and resource limitation determine life history evolution and population dynamics. The novelty of this approach is that we are not hardwiring our assumptions about life history trait co-variation into the model. We will test our predictions for how resources and natural mortality select on life histories by confronting our population dynamics model with real-world data from wild fishes.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/R004730/2
    Funder Contribution: 16,698 GBP
    Partners: Abdus Salam ICTP, SISSA - ISAS, University of Oxford, University of Toronto

    The subject of study of differential geometry are smooth manifolds, which correspond to smooth curved objects of finite dimension. In modern differential geometry, it is becoming more and more common to consider sequences (or flows) of smooth manifolds. Typically the limits of such sequences (or flows) are non smooth anymore. It is then useful to isolate a natural class of non smooth objects which generalize the classical notion of smooth manifold, and which is closed under the process of taking limits. If the sequence of manifolds satisfy a lower bound on the sectional curvatures, a natural class of non-smooth objects which is closed under (Gromov-Hausdorff) convergence is given by special metric spaces known as Alexandrov spaces; if instead the sequence of manifolds satisfy a lower bound on the Ricci curvatures, a natural class of non-smooth objects, closed under (measured Gromov-Hausdorff) convergence, is given by special metric measure spaces (i.e. metric spaces endowed with a reference volume measure) known as RCD(K,N) spaces. These are a 'Riemannian' refinement of the so called CD(K,N) spaces of Lott-Sturm-Villani, which are metric measure spaces with Ricci curvature bounded below by K and dimension bounded above by N in a synthetic sense via optimal transport. In the proposed project we aim to understand in more detail the structure, the analytic and the geometric properties of RCD(K,N) spaces. The new results will have an impact also on the classical world of smooth manifolds satisfying curvature bounds.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/P010393/1
    Funder Contribution: 387,936 GBP
    Partners: UBC, Imperial College London, British Dam Society, University of Surrey, TIT, Rodney Bridle, University of Nantes, H R Wallingford Ltd, Arup Group Ltd

    Civil engineering works often encounter water flowing through the ground. Examples include embankment dams, flood walls and embankments, excavations beneath the water table, tunnels and deep basements. When considering their design, engineers seek to avoid cases where the buoyancy forces exerted by the seeping water are sufficient to reduce the effective stress in the soil to zero, resulting in heave failure or "quicksand". This critical scenario is identified by considering the soil to be a continuous, but porous material. However soil is made up of individual particles of varying size and shape. Awareness is growing that seepage forces imparted on the particles can preferentially erode the smaller particles in sandy soils. There can be significant internal erosion of the soil under scenarios that are considered safe according to the classical continuum calculations used in engineering practice; this phenomenon is called internal instability. We will improve understanding of internal instability and thereby our knowledge of how to design and assess infrastructure safely, by studying the fundamental, particle scale mechanisms involved. Internationally, several research groups are undertaking relatively large experiments of this problem. The particle-scale emphasis in the proposed research will complement, rather than supplement, these studies. The specific research direction originates from our prior research, recently published experimental data from other groups, and consideration of recently published design guidelines (e.g. the International Levee Handbook) and the proposed modifications to the hydraulic failure guidelines in the Eurocode EC7 for geotechnical design. This cross-institutional proposal will combine experimental expertise in testing transparent soil at the University of Sheffield (UoS) with skills in discrete element modelling (DEM) at Imperial College London (IC). We will use these techniques in their most advanced form. At UoS testing facilities equipped with a laser light source will be developed to enable visualization of particle movement inside soil samples while also using tracer particles to observe fluid flow. The development of a triaxial stress path apparatus where the confining and deviatoric stress can be controlled while making these observations will be a particularly novel aspect of this research. IC will continue to champion the use of high performance computing to enable geomechanics DEM simulations and the project will exploit recent work that was carried out in the Department of Mechanical Engineering to enable DEM simulations to be coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of the fluid flow. Both UoS and IC have been working independently to examine the problem of internal instability and so this proposal marks a timely collaboration to unify their complementary skill sets. For example the DEM model can provide information about particle stresses that cannot be measured in the laboratory, while instability can be directly observed for real materials in the physical tests without any of the idealizations and assumptions which are inherent in any numerical model. The research will clarify: (i) Which materials are initially susceptible to internal instability with volume change and the conditions whereby a material that initially erodes at a constant volume (i.e. settlement or collapse of the particle structure), transitions to having volume change. (ii) Whether seepage velocity or hydraulic pressure gradient correlates better with the initiation of erosion. (iii) How the stress level influences susceptibility; particularly considering stress anisotropy and the relation between principal stress orientation and seepage direction.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/P00251X/1
    Funder Contribution: 308,796 GBP
    Partners: Uppsala University, Dalhousie University, University of Bristol

    The origin of eukaryotes from their prokaryotic progenitors was one of the most formative transitions in the history of life, catalysing the blossoming of eukaryotic biodiversity into the astonishing range of forms we see today, from the largest organisms on our planet - blue whales, giant sequoias, fungal networks extending for miles underground - to microscopic plankton that jostle with bacteria in the world's oceans. Explaining the leap in cellular complexity during the prokaryote-to-eukaryote transition is one of the outstanding challenges in 21st-century biology. The common structure of all eukaryotic cells testifies to their shared ancestry, but our understanding of the kind of cell that ancestral eukaryote was - where it lived, what it ate, the kinds of biochemical reactions it could perform - is in disarray. Whole-genome data have enabled us to resolve the more recent divergences in eukaryotic evolution, but we still have a very poor understanding of the deeper relationships between the main groups at the base of the evolutionary tree. In particular, the root of the tree - the starting point of the eukaryotic radiation - remains mired in controversy and debate. The problem is that traditional rooting methods rely on the use of an outgroup: to find the root of the tree of mammals, for example, we might include birds in the analysis, and then use our a priori knowledge to place the root on the branch between the two groups. This approach breaks down when applied to the eukaryotic radiation: including our closest prokaryotic relatives greatly reduces the proportion of the eukaryotic genome that can be analysed, and the enormous evolutionary distance to the prokaryotic outgroup obscures the relationships among the different eukaryotic lineages. As a result, recent analyses of the eukaryotic root disagree strongly on its position, despite using similar datasets and analytical approaches. In this project, we will tackle these difficulties head-on to definitively resolve the root of the eukaryotic tree by applying new outgroup-free rooting approaches, including some pioneered by members of the project team, to the most up-to-date, representative sampling of eukaryotic genomic diversity yet assembled. We will use the resulting phylogenomic framework to map the points in evolutionary history at which the unique cellular and genomic traits of modern eukaryotes first evolved, establishing a timescale for the evolution of key eukaryotic innovations. By mapping these traits onto the tree, we will reconstruct a detailed cellular and genomic model of the ancestral eukaryote - an organism which may have lived up to two billion years ago - in order to establish its lifestyle, ecology, and metabolism, and to test hypotheses of how that founding lineage gave rise to the staggering diversity of eukaryotic life we see today. The work we are proposing is fundamental discovery science: the ultimate goal is to understand our own origins, to bring clarity to a poorly-understood period in the history of life vitally important for making sense of the biodiversity we see around us today, and in doing so to establish a new state-of-the-art for phylogenetic rooting with broad applicability to other major evolutionary transitions across the tree of life. But there is also real potential for broader socio-economic impact. Some of the groups that branch near the base of eukaryotic tree are parasitic, and so establishing how these evolved from their free-living ancestors will provide new, much-needed insights into the adaptation of eukaryotic parasites such as Trypanosoma (sleeping sickness) and Giardia to their hosts. As part of the research programme, we will host summer internships for motivated students on biohacking (DIY computational biology), providing a taste of scientific discovery and teaching the crucial computational, statistical and scientific skills needed to identify and nurture the next generation of scientific leaders.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/R005125/1
    Funder Contribution: 40,419 GBP
    Partners: Max Planck, Alfred Wegener Inst for Polar & Marine R, CERFACS, UCI, Met Office, EnviroSim (Canada), Gwangju Institute of Science & Technolog, AER, BSC, NCAR...

    The loss of Arctic sea-ice is one of the most compelling manifestations of man-made climate change. Profound environmental change is already affecting Arctic inhabitants and ecosystems. Increasing scientific evidence, including many key papers by the PI, suggests the impacts of sea-ice loss will be felt way beyond the poles. Linkages between Arctic sea-ice loss and extreme mid-latitude weather have become an area of increasing scholarly enquiry and societal interest. Yet, significant knowledge gaps remain that demand urgent attention; in particular, the robustness of response to sea-ice loss - and its underpinning physical causes - across different climate models. The Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project (PA-MIP) will significantly advance the state-of-the-art in understanding and modelling the climate response to Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice loss. It will enable deeper understanding of the causes and global effects of past and future polar change, and the physical mechanisms involved. PA-MIP is a novel and unique collaboration of UK and international scientists. To promote fruitful collaboration and drive research excellence, this proposal supports two key activities: a secondment scheme and a synthesis workshop, both with direct benefit to NERC-funded science.