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University of Ottawa

Country: Canada
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30 Projects, page 1 of 6
  • Funder: NSF Project Code: 8810212
    Partners: University of Ottawa
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/X002608/1
    Funder Contribution: 378,037 GBP
    Partners: University of Ottawa, NERC British Antarctic Survey

    Diminishing sea ice due to climate change is making the Arctic Ocean more accessible. As a result, marine shipping within Inuit Nunangat waters is expected to increase dramatically in coming years as natural resources and shorter transit routes between Asia, Europe and North America are exploited. While the shipping industry plays a pivotal role in supporting the economy across Inuit Nunangat, increased Arctic shipping brings various threats to natural and cultural heritage in the region. These threats, which have wide-ranging consequences for the health, well-being and livelihoods of Inuit communities, need to be assessed and mitigated. This project has been co-designed in direct response to these challenges by several Inuit organizations, Inuit communities, and academics in Canada and the UK. A combination of methods, including risk mapping, modelling of existing data, community youth training and knowledge documentation workshops, and ships of opportunity, will be used to address five main research activities designed to identify and assess practical solutions for the anticipated increase in shipping across Inuit Nunangat. The project is intentionally designed to reflect Inuit social values, Inuit Qaujisarnirmut (knowledge), and the principle of Piliriqatigiingniq, which is broadly defined as the process of respectful coming together and use of every resource, network, technology, and process available, in order to arrive at the best possible collaborative solution to a challenge. We will employ the Aajiiqatigiingniq Research Methodology (ARM), which is rooted in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and Inuit-specific methods for knowledge-building and meaning-making to build agreement together through group processes that are inclusive and participatory. This process enables Inuit to define what is known and collectively understood about an issue and facilitates a format for Inuit to gather, review and analyse information (e.g. scientific data, Inuit knowledge) as it is gathered (regardless of method used) to iteratively determine the relevance and impacts of new information on what is already known/understood. The project, guided by a wisdom committee, will involve scientists, community organizations, Inuit and Northern community research associates and youth, local Inuit knowledge holders, and ship operators through a series of co-learning workshops, sampling and analysis activities, and information/results sharing gatherings. We focus on five key activities that reflect the agreed upon and co-developed research objectives and these include: Activity 1) analyses of past, present, and projected future shipping traffic for Inuit Nunangat, Activity 2) investigation of underwater noise impacts on marine mammals, hunting, and (country) food security, Activity 3) measurement of ship-source air and marine pollution, Activity 4) evaluation of the introduction of non-indigenous species due to ship traffic, and Activity 5) the development of risks maps that integrate outputs from Activities 1-4 and further identification of relevant risk mitigation techniques and self-determined ocean government strategies that could deal with identified challenges. While conducting the research, we will rely on two research platforms: community-based research and ships of opportunity. These complimentary approaches will allow us to focus both on typically used shipping corridors and also to gather baseline data and comparative data between a community that has historically experienced low levels of shipping activity (i.e., Arviat, Nunavut) and a community that has experienced relatively high levels of shipping activity (i.e., Pond Inlet, Nunavut).

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/X011526/1
    Funder Contribution: 70,174 GBP
    Partners: Natural History Museum, University of Ottawa

    Marine ecosystems are among the most important on planet Earth, and the guiding ecological and evolutionary principles that have shaped their origins are crucial to understand the world we live in today. One example of this are marine animal forests, which are three-dimensional canopies akin to underwater forests that are primarily comprised of invertebrate animals with biomineralized skeletons, like corals and echinoderms. These ecosystems are cradles of biodiversity in modern oceans, and they play an important role in the carbon cycle due to the abundance of calcium carbonate biomineralizers. Despite their significance, however, the macroevolutionary and macroecological processes underlying the origin and diversification of marine animal forests are not well constrained. In particular, tiering, the vertical subdivision of space by organisms within a community, has been proposed as a driver of diversification in marine benthic communities such as marine animal forests, but this has rarely been quantified. This lack of quantification has hampered comparisons of marine animal forests across different spatial and temporal scales, and a unified framework facilitating study of tiering and its effects on extinct and extant marine ecosystems is currently lacking. In order to understand the origin and evolution of marine animal forests and the role of tiering in structuring these communities, we will devise a quantitative, interdisciplinary approach using cutting-edge statistical methods and computer simulations to investigate tiering in crinoid-dominated marine animal forests. Crinoids are benthic suspension-feeding echinoderms, which have been the poster children for tiering in marine benthic communities since the initial conception of the idea over 40 years ago. They are thus the ideal group with which to tackle this topic. The development of a quantitative approach to tiering has classically been hindered by the absence of complete crinoid fossils, which are necessary to understand the relationship between growth of skeletal elements of the cup, which house the feeding appendages, and the height of the cup above the seafloor. The recent discovery of a new exceptionally-preserved assemblage of Jurassic fossil crinoids from Wiltshire, UK, housed at the Natural History Museum in London, offers the perfect natural laboratory to develop, test, and benchmark a unified framework for quantifying tiering from partial specimens. Once this has been achieved, we will apply our novel framework to quantify tiering in an older Ordovician palaeocommunity and a modern crinoid-dominated marine animal forest to test and ensure the wider applicability of our approach. The outcomes of our work will provide insight into the ecological and evolutionary drivers underlying marine animal forests. Our new analytical tools will be widely applicable to marine benthic communities, opening up novel directions of research in the environmental sciences.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/H000860/1
    Funder Contribution: 110,050 GBP
    Partners: University of Ottawa, Plymouth University

    Summary Predicted rates of sea-level rise for the 21st century, such as those in the latest IPCC assessment, are global in scope and do not provide sufficient information for coastal residents, stake holders and planners. Several processes need to be quantified if we want to translate global sea-level predictions into practical local values. These include vertical movements of the coast, regional density changes in the ocean and worldwide ocean-surface variations produced by the Earth's changing gravity field. Information on these processes and their contributions to sea-level rise in the recent past is of great value to climate modellers, because it allows them to test and improve sea-level prediction models. Do we understand past contributions to sea-level rise? We know that some of the sea-level rise in the last 50 years has been from the melting of glaciers, small ice caps and ice sheets. Sea levels have also been rising because sea water expands as it gets warmer. Whilst these processes can account for most of the observed sea-level rise since the 1950s, we do not know what caused sea levels to rise during the first half of the 20th century. This is an important problem, because warming during the 1930s and 1940s was faster than in the last two decades. Unfortunately, direct observations of ice melt and ocean warming are not available. This project attempts to find out what happened with the Greenland Ice Sheet before the 1950s by using an indirect method: it takes advantage of a distinct global pattern of sea-level rise that would have occurred if the Greenland Ice Sheet had been melting significantly. Sea-level rise that results from polar ice melt is not evenly distributed across the globe. The explanation for this is that the gravitational field of the Earth changes its shape in response to ice melt and, as a result, sea-level rise occurs faster the further away one goes from the melting source. Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet produces sea-level rise that increases in magnitude from north to south along the coasts of western Europe. Turning this concept on its head we can estimate how much Greenland has contributed to past sea-level rise if we can quantify this sea-level gradient. To do this, we have several long instrumental records to our disposal, some of which go back to the early 1800s, but these are located in France and Poland, near the middle of the gradient. It would be very useful to have sea-level records at both ends of the gradient, in northern Norway and southern Portugal. This project will establish past sea-level histories for northern Norway and southern Portugal from analyses of sediments preserved in salt marshes. The marshes collect mud every day when the tides come in and, over a long time, build up at approximately the same pace as sea level rises. Precise sea-level changes will be reconstructed from the analyses of small fossils (foraminifera) and precise dating of the sediments. The two sea-level records need to be combined with all available long sea-level records .Several corrections are then required before it is possible to estimate the contribution of Greenland to the observed sea-level rise pattern. Firstly, long-term land movements need to be considered, but these can be eliminated by calculating the difference between the 19th and the 20th century rates of sea-level rise in all records. Secondly, we need to account for the warming of the oceans, and for this we use data from a computer model that will be provided by colleagues. What remains after these corrections is the 'fingerprint' of Greenland ice melt. With the help of another computer model it will be possible to calculate how much of Greenland would have melted to explain the sea-level data. This information will be very valuable to climate modellers, because it helps to explain sea-level rise during the 20th century and can improve sea-level rise predictions for the 21st century.