Faculty of Science

Western Earth Scientists Bring National Attention to Environmental Issues

A year ago, Professor Gail Atkinson and Associate Professor Brian Branfireun from Earth Sciences were named President and Vice-President respectively of the Canadian Geophysical Union.  Dr. Phil McCausland, Post Doctoral Fellow also of Earth Sciences, became Secretary of the organization’s Solid Earth Section. As the executive of a national body, they made a significant contribution in organizing a joint conference between the Canadian Geophysical Union and the Canadian Water Resources Association to address emerging environmental issues.

The result bore a nationwide impact. Over 550 delegates met in Banff Alberta from June 4 to 8, under the theme of “Earth, Air and Water – Elements of Life” to present their research findings and hold workshops concerning Canada’s environment and natural resources. Topics in the conference ranged from natural hazards to solid earth sciences, geodesy, the biogeosciences and hydrology presented by a broad range of experts and, of course, a particularly strong emphasis on Canada's water resources

 “This joint meeting and the important research presented there could not have come at a more important time in Canada” said Atkinson, who is also Canada Research Chair in Earthquake Hazards and Ground Motions. “These days, Canadians are hearing a lot about the impacts of climate change, resource development, natural hazards and environmental impact.  Some of the best research in the world on these issues is being done in Canada and was presented there in Banff.” Dr. Brian Branfireun, Associate Professor cross appointed to Biology and Canada Research Chair in Environment and Sustainability agreed.  “As a water-rich nation, Canada has been long considered a leader in the scientific study of water and other natural resources.   We are in a time of rapid change – it is time to increase our efforts to understand our environment, not shift priorities toward things less essential than the availability of clean water.” Dr. Atkinson, Dr. Branfireun, and Dr. McCausland dedicate much of their professional time to advancing and promoting the study of the Earth and its environment. The concentration of executive members of this important national organization at Western is clear evidence of Western’s leadership in the geophysical and environmental sciences.