Philip Marsh

Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science

Tier 1 - 2017-11-01
Wilfrid Laurier University
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

519-884-0710, ext./poste 2856

Research involves

Conducting research to understand and predict the interactions between climate, vegetation, permafrost, and lakes and streams in the boreal forest and tundra of Canada’s Arctic.

Research relevance

This research will lead to improved estimates of river flows and lake levels in Canada’s Arctic as a result of climate change, resulting in improved water supply and flood prediction. It will also lead to understanding the impacts climate change has on northern ecosystems.

Coping with Arctic Climate Change

Canada’s Arctic is warming at twice the global average, and is becoming wetter. These factors have serious consequences for our freshwater resources. Recent observations have also suggested the Arctic may be approaching a tipping point, with the rate of climate change increasing in coming years due to rapid and unexpected changes in Arctic Ocean sea ice, spring snow cover, boreal forest vegetation, and permafrost.

Current climate models do not explain these changes, however, and there are fears their nature is being underpredicted.

Dr. Philip Marsh, Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science, is examining the effects that changes in climate, boreal forest, tundra vegetation, and permafrost have on stream flow and lake levels in Canada’s western Arctic. He is conducting his research at two long-term research sites near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, that straddle the Arctic treeline and are in a continuous permafrost zone. 

Marsh is incorporating water science and meteorological data to develop processes and models that will allow for improved understanding of future changes to stream flow, lake levels, vegetation and permafrost in response to warming.

Marsh’s research will provide First Nations, local communities, policy-makers and water resource managers with the capacity to deal with the impacts future climate change have on water and on resource development.