• MEOPAR Blog: SOILS: A Dynamic and Diverse Ecosystem and its relationship to agriculture and climate change

    Photo caption: Soil degradation is becoming a growing concern for the agriculture industry globally, and Niagara is no exception.

    For those of us who weren’t born and raised in a rural community, soil is often regarded simply as mud or dirt. The rise of urbanization and the rural-urban divide has led to a disconnect between humans and nature, and, especially, between humans and agricultural settings. Such a disconnect makes it difficult for people to understand how important soil actually is.

    Soil is a complex and dynamic ecosystem that hosts 25 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. In fact, one gram of soil contains one million organisms! Arguably even more important is the fact that the food that we eat also depends on those soils.

    Soil degradation is becoming a growing concern for the agriculture industry globally, and Niagara is no exception. Land-use change patterns like deforestation, and agricultural intensification can cause waterlogging and erosion and lead to release of greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide). Soils play a crucial role in climate change mitigation by acting as one of the largest terrestrial reservoirs of carbon. Healthy soils participate in the carbon and nitrogen cycles, which keeps our ecosystems healthy and contributes to agricultural productivity. Continued loss of productive soils will further amplify food-price volatility and could greatly affect the farming community.

    Changes to soil health as far north as the Arctic are also driving climate change. In northern regions such as the arctic, soils are frozen (a phenomenon known as permafrost) and represent a vast reservoir of carbon. When that soil thaws, due to climate change, carbon dioxide and methane are released in the atmosphere, which then further contributes to climate change. A vicious cycle indeed.

    The good news is that these impacts to soil health are avoidable. Careful soil management would not only increase our food supply but would also provide a valuable lever for climate regulation and a pathway for safeguarding ecosystem services.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our articles every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Pulkit Garg) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at or email us at


    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR Blog: Understanding Climate Change Resilience

    Photo caption: Master’s Candidate, Meredith DeCock and Lincoln resident, Brian Jaworsky discussing bank stability of 16 Mile Creek despite significant climatic events and human influence (such as the building of the QEW).

    You may have noticed that a number of municipalities—such as Hamilton, St. Catharines, Toronto and Kingston—have recently declared climate emergencies. One of the reasons for doing so was to make changing environmental conditions a priority and plan the best way to build resilience at the local level. But what exactly is resilience, and how can it help us adapt to the risks posed by climate change?

    The easiest way to think of resilience is by comparing it to a rubber band: you can stretch the band to just before its breaking point, but when you let go, it returns to its previous shape fully intact. That’s resilience. Alternatively, if you pull too hard, the elastic breaks and can no longer be used for its original purpose. In that case, we have to consider transformation, meaning the system is no longer sustainable and must change to another one.

    Resilience is the ability to return to a normal state after some sort of disruption. For the sake of this article, we are referring to events or situations caused by climate change: floods, drought, heat waves, etc.

    Resilience strategies can involve enhancing the natural ecosystem, the social make-up of communities or modifying the physical environment. Being resilient means protecting your home against flooding, building parks and green spaces that maintain the natural buffering capacity of the land, developing emergency response plans, and re-designing roads and bridges to withstand increased freeze-thaw cycles and extreme wind. In some cases, resilience may also mean moving assets far away from hazards, such as coastline vulnerability. We also often talk about “remove, retreat or restore”: a few strategies that can help our communities become more resilient and sustainable.

    Our communities, businesses and homes can all be made more resilient to the hazards and risks of climate change. So, when you think of resilience, think of the rubber band: flexible and adaptable.



    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR Blog: Risks and Hazards

    Photo Caption: Living along the shore has its risks. This section of Lakeshore Road was patched and a stacked armour stone wall was installed after the 2017 floods.

    Risks and hazards are two similar, but often confused terms. A hazard is classified as anything that can cause adverse effects or harm to someone or a community. There are three different types of hazards: occupational or safety hazards (which most people are familiar with), including equipment malfunctions or slippery floors; health hazards, such as work stress, air pollution, or bacteria exposure; and natural hazards, such as earthquakes, heatwaves, hail or tornados.

    The chance that a hazard will cause harm is considered the risk—a low risk translating to a low possibility of being hurt. A hazard could also be low risk when the severity of the harm caused is minimal. Your level of risk is also dependent on your likelihood to be exposed to a specific hazard. For example, residents living on top of the Niagara Escarpment are at a lower risk of being flooded by Lake Ontario than those living along the shoreline.

    When we think about natural hazards, we used to be talking about events that occurred once in 100 years. But with climate change—this is no longer the case. Heat waves, freezing rain and heavy rainfall are occurring more frequently , often classified as disasters.

    Understanding hazards and their associated risks plays an important role in the development of climate change adaptation strategies. Some disasters, like hurricanes, cannot be avoided. It is at this point thatdisaster risk reduction becomes the only option. In the case of hurricanes, the best long-term risk reduction strategy may be to avoid building close to the coastline. In the case of existing structures that lay in the path of the storm, the best course of action is to hurricane-proof the dwelling and evacuate.

    Although it’s not always possible, we can reduce our chances of being harmed by natural hazards. Risk reduction strategies have saved lives, which is why it’s crucial that we gain a better understanding of the hazards that can affect us and properly assess their risks.





    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR BLOG: Call for Photographs


    We have discussed what climate change is and the importance of adapting to the environmental changes occurring and anticipated. But how can we be sure that some of these changes are truly a result of climate change? MEOPAR team member Meredith DeCock is hoping to demonstrate just that with her master’s thesis.

    Brock University Master of Sustainability Science and Society Candidate, Meredith DeCock is conducting an analysis of the Lincoln shoreline of Lake Ontario to see how it has changed since the 1930’s. As part of her research project, she is asking for help from the community. She is interested in acquiring electronic copies of historical photographs anyone may have of the shoreline to help visualize how it has changed over time. Photographs are important visuals in climate change research to help tell the story over time. It is a way of sharing your local knowledge and contributing to the research project.

    Don’t miss out on an opportunity to participate in a local research project!

    Photos are now being accepted until October 31, 2019. 

    Find out more information on the project and how to submit your photographs here.
    *Please remember to sign a waiver (found at the web address above) and submit it with your photograph(s)*

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every week. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at


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    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR Blog: Mitigation will not be enough: we need to adapt

    Flood waters rise up to the Niagara Rowing School and Paddlesport Centre at the Jordan Harbour Conservation Area, June 2019.

    What is adaptation and why is it important?

    The top scientists around the globe know our climate is changing at a faster rate than Earth has ever experienced—largely as a result of the actions taken by humans since the industrial revolution. This is resulting in changes to the Earth’s natural processes, including our climate, and action needs to be taken to slow down and deal with these changes.

    These actions can take on two different forms: mitigation or adaptation. Mitigation refers to actions taken to slow down climate changes, mainly targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example. Adaptation, on the other hand, goes even further: acknowledging that even if we halted 100% of all emissions right now, we will still inevitably see some of the effects of climate change for decades. Adaptation means preparing for the inevitability of these changes by engaging in actions or strategies to better respond to the risks of climate change. Strategies may be either reactive (drying out your basement and preventing mould after you’re have been flooded) or proactive (relocating entirely because your house is getting too close to the shoreline).

    Adaptation actions may include:

    • flood prevention
    • relocation
    • land use changes
    • health programs
    • restoration of shorelines and forests
    • smart building design

    To successfully tackle the complex challenge of climate change, a combination of mitigation and adaptation efforts need to be prioritized by everyone: from federal to municipal governments, as well as local agencies, businesses and community members. Using the Town of Lincoln as a case study, the MEOPAR-Lincoln research project focuses on how communities can adapt to changing environmental conditions, and what will ultimately motivate citizens to get involved and start moving into action.

    A wide range of community voices will be needed to complete this study, as there will be a wide range of impacts to be addressed and strategies to be examined.

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every week. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at

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    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR Blog: Mitigation, A fancy way to say “Reduce the use of fossil fuels!”

    Flooding under the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) leads to partial closures of Charles Daley Park, Spring 2019.

    How much do you like driving your car or turning up the heat in your home on a frigid winter day? How often are you awake long after the sun has gone down, relying on the flick of a light switch in order to go about your evening routine? While many of these things are considered a common part of life, have you ever wondered where the energy comes from to do everything that we often take for granted?

    Many of the modern conveniences we rely on every day require the use of natural gas or gasoline—both of which emit a lot of greenhouse gases. The more of these gases that get pumped into the air, the greater the impact to our climate and our overall health and well-being. As convenient as it is to jump in our cars and zip from Point A to Point B, the ozone emitted by those cars creates smog that causes major health issues, like asthma and cancer, prompts our government to issue air quality advisories and cautions us from spending too much time outdoors.

    So, what can we do?

    We can start by committing to making a few, little lifestyle changes today. If we want future generations to enjoy life the way that we have, spending time outdoors engaging in Canadian summer pastimes like hiking and boating, we can’t afford to wait.

    A good place to start is by having open, honest and intergenerational discussions about our consumption patterns and over-use of resources. Think about whether your next potential purchase is a want or a need, for example. Do you really need a new car or a new cell phone, or do you just want to keep up with the latest update and features and your current device still does the trick? Do you need a new house of several thousand square feet for only two people, or, would a more modest dwelling suffice? If your initial response is that yes, you need it, then ask yourself why? While it’s nice to have the newest technology or an extra bedroom or two in our home, these material possessions and status symbols won’t be worth much when our forests and waterways are gone and there’s no clean air to breathe.

    It doesn’t have to happen all at once and no one is expecting you to relinquish all your possessions and decide to stop driving your car overnight. However, we all need to commit to doing our small part to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions now before it’s too late. It won’t be easy, and we’ll all need to put in the work because it’s not only up to governments to do something—we are all responsible for making changes. Even if we can only commit to small, incremental changes at first.

    It’s time to rethink the future we want and the steps we can take to mitigate the impacts of climate change. We have to do this only for us, but also for our children, our grandchildren, and all other future generations on this planet we share.

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every week. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at


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    Categories: News

  • MEOPAR Blog: A few thoughts on climate change

    The pathway at Charles Daley Park was closed this year due to significant spring flooding. Photo by Meredith DeCock, June 2019.

    Everyone in Canada loves to talk about the weather. We hear about it on the radio, see it on TV and it’s often the first topic of conversation with anyone you bump into. We also hear the word climate (or climate change) used interchangeably with weather—and this is where we start having some confusion.

    Weather is what you experience on a day-to-day basis. For instance, it may be sunny and cold today with rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. It’s what we feel when we go outside, and it influences our activities: If it’s sunny and cool then it’s time for a walk! Freezing rain? You might want to rethink your outdoor plans.

    Climate is a little more complex to explain.

    Climate is more about the characteristics of a place over time. We live in a temperate climate here in Ontario. This means that we have four seasons, with cold winters and warm summers. Scientists characterize climate by looking at the mean of weather variables (such as temperatures) over a period of 30 years or more.

    Since the beginning of time on Earth, the climate has changed—and continues changing—to coincide with geological changes, such as the movement of continents. There are also cycles in the geological record of changing climates that are largely centered around significant events such as ice ages and meteorite impact on the Earth.

    So, if climate change is a natural occurrence, why are we talking about it so much these days? Climate usually changes at a very slow pace and we would need a very long time period to detect most of those changes. So slowly, in fact, that you usually cannot even feel these changes. Since humans have started using fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, gasoline, tar sands and oil), however, these changes are happening at a significantly faster pace.

    Why? Fossil fuels bring chemicals (now infamously known as greenhouse gasses) back to the surface and into the atmosphere, which accelerates changes in temperature and other variables, such as air currents and rainfall. We need some of these gasses to keep the Earth relatively warm (if not, we would be at about –98oC!) but when too much is released, we heat up the planet to a problematic degree.

    A warmer planet may not seem like a bad idea in theory—especially for those of us who yearn for longer summers here in Canada! A warmer planet, however, means warmer water and air, which in term leads to melting sea ice and glaciers. This results in more water in our seas and lakes that accumulates until there’s nowhere left for it to go, causing coastal communities to flood. These changes in temperature in the air and water also cause other extreme events such as storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and heavy rainfall.

    The serious flooding and increase of severe rainstorms we’ve experienced across the Niagara region this year alone is evidence of the serious implications of our changing climate.

    So, what can we do about it?

    Researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can adapt, and increase resiliency, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at or email us at

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every week. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at

    Categories: News

  • UNESCO Chair presenting at this year’s Celebration of Nations

    Photo provided courtesy of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    Press release from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    RE: Celebration of Nations, Sept. 6 – 8
    August 29,  2019
    Click here to download a PDF of this release

    In this time of great environmental challenge, featuring accelerated species extinction, extreme weather events, glacier melt and sea level rise, increases in droughts and heat waves, and temperatures that are warming at an alarming rate with forest fires multiplying all around the world, this year’s Celebration of Nations (6-8 September 2019 at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre) rightfully focuses on Empathic Traditions in search of Indigenous cultural solutions to a global cultural problem. For the sake of today’s living and future generations the peoples of the world can no longer afford to exhibit the hubris, self-interest, and ultimately self-destructive behaviour that currently and predominantly forms the basis of their social and economic reality.

    “In relation to environmental sustainability one of the hard and daunting realities that came into focus during work to synthesize research on this issue at the Smithsonian Institution, was the identification that culture needed to play a significant role in the solution,” said Artistic Producer Tim Johnson. “What was fascinating to me is that I had been hearing this from Indigenous knowledge keepers for decades. Onondaga Elder Oren Lyons, for example, had distilled this understanding down to four words, ‘Value Change For Survival.’ But now that science is in conformity, unfortunately, time is short and the challenge more daunting.”

    As a result, Celebration of Nations has recruited a group of prestigious allies who are working hard to address the complex environmental issues that are challenging the health of our living earth. These include Brock University, the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk College, Niagara Parks Commission, Plenty Canada, Ontario Nature, Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust, Youth Circle for Mother Earth, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and many others. In addition, curators have asked participating artists to present creative works that reflect upon this year’s theme.

    “We need to combine knowledge with inspiration if we are to achieve our goal of preserving our Mother Earth for the Seventh Generation,” said Johnson. “Although the task is significant, many incredible people are working hard to remove us from the current path of destruction. Therefore, what we aspire to accomplish this year is to share essential and important information while showcasing the amazing work being done by some of the brilliant, passionate, and dedicated people who are serving on the front lines of our defense.”

    In an effort to address this challenge Celebration of Nations offers these informative, engaging, and participatory sessions and programs:

    The Great Niagara Escarpment: Indigenous Cultural Map | Sunday, 2 pm, Partridge Hall
    Official Premiere of The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map, a multimedia online resource containing stunning photography, captivating video, and contextual information that identifies important Indigenous historic, cultural, and natural world locations along more than 725 kilometres from Niagara Falls to the western region of Manitoulin Island.

    Under the guidance of the project’s Artistic Director Tim Johnson this remarkable resource was developed by Plenty Canada, an Indigenous charitable organization, in association with the Canadian Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to explore how best to engage and include Indigenous peoples in the organization and activation of Biosphere Reserves within Canada. The Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve is one of four Biosphere Reserves within Ontario. Each is mapped upon both traditional and historic Indigenous lands, however, little has been done to research, document, and integrate Indigenous land-based knowledge and experience, heritage sites, and areas that are important to the protection of biodiversity into the maps and materials that are used by UNESCO, First Nations, municipalities, educational systems, and other public agencies and organizations with connections to these areas. Project leads will present various aspects and applications of the map.

    Living In The Anthropocene | Sunday, 12:30, The Film House
    The ever-increasing impact of human activities on Mother Earth has resulted in changes not only in the environment but also the climate. Industrialization, the use of fossil fuels, overconsumption, and overexploitation of natural resources are all pushing the planet toward a new era called Anthropocene. The changes are now profound and, in many cases, irreversible. It appears we have reached a threshold and that the survival of the human and all other species on Earth is in jeopardy. If a global effort is not made to take immediate and radical action to protect and restore ecosystems, more than one million species will disappear over the coming decades. We are talking abouta sixth mass extinction. What are the avenues of solutions to reduce the current pressure we have put on Mother Earth? What actions do participants feel can be undertaken in our communities? Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Niagara Adapts: Contending With Climate Change | Saturday, noon, The Film House
    Niagara Adapts is an innovative partnership that brings together seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines, and Welland — with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) to address what has been called the defining issue of our time. Baseline vulnerability and adaptive capacity assessments will be discussed byhost and moderator Dr. Jessica Blythe in collaboration with municipal partners and members of the Centre. The knowledge generated by this innovative partnership will help inform allocation of resources for climate change planning and adaptation and form the basis of ongoing monitoring and evaluation, which is an essential best practice in climate change adaptation planning. This panel offers Niagara Region residents a unique opportunity to learn about actions being taken to deal with climate change and to ask questions of specialists in the field. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Lighting The Way: Indigenous Renewable Energy Projects | Sunday, 11 am, Robertson Theatre
    Increasingly, First Nations have been exploring and developing renewable energy projects as a meanstoward implementing their empathic traditions while creating jobs and generating income for their communities. As cited in a CBC report, a national survey revealed that “nearly one fifth of the country’s power is provided by facilities fully or partly owned and run by Indigenous communities” in a trend that “represents a dramatic increase in the last decade in renewable energy projects like hydro, wind, and solar power.” Among these sector leaders is Six Nations of the Grand River, which partnered with Samsung to develop the Grand Renewable Energy Park consisting of a 150MW wind farm and a 100MW photovoltaic solar farm, that provides enough clean energy to power 60,000 homes. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Science As A Human Right | Sunday, 10 am, MIWSFPA
    Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (UN, 1948, p. 7). In November 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously adopted the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, which replaced the former recommendation of 1974. This Recommendation includes a stronger link between science and society and aims to ensure that research outcomes can best support sustainable development and a more just world. Presentations followed by Q&A.

    Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association Film Shorts | Saturday, 4pm, The Film House
    This series of short filmsreveals the participation of Indigenous peoples in UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves across Canada as they work to protect and preserve the natural world. Presented by the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA), representing Canada’s 18 biosphere regions, these short films highlight Indigenous efforts to maintain the wondrous beauty and breathtaking features nature has bestowed upon the land from coast to coast to coast. Biosphere Reserve leaders will host the program and facilitate a Q&A session following the films.

    Cross-Cultural Partnerships for Mother Earth | Saturday, 2 pm, The Film House
    Protecting Mother Earth requires a new consciousness that brings together Indigenous traditions and knowledge systems with western science and conservation practices. This one-hour session will highlight the initiatives of four partner organizations aimed at building cross-cultural understanding, literacy and relationships as a foundation for collective action.
    Since 2016, Plenty Canada, Walpole Island Land Trust, the Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Trent University and Ontario Nature have been hosting gatherings, undertaking research and engaging and supporting youth leaders to create an ethical space for knowledge-sharing and collaboration. This session will focus on two of their current projects, the Youth Circle for Mother Earth and a series of gatherings on protected areas. The session will feature a panel of youth and organizational leaders who will discuss their hopes, plans, challenges, and accomplishments.

    The Empathic Poetry Café | Saturday, 4 pm, Robertson Theatre
    The Empathic Poetry Café is a 90-minute showcase featuring Indigenous artists from diverse nations performing storytelling and poetry styles addressing unique Indigenous perspectives involving empathic traditions and environmental consciousness. Each presenter will share two, five-minute pieces in a round-robin line-up style rotating through the program to produce a lively and engaging program. Robertson Theatre will be transformed into a poetry coffeehouse with cabaret seating, round tables, sofas, and soft lighting. Groove to the rhymes and rhythms of spoken word artists as they convey their expressions concerning the importance of protecting the environment and on the conduct required of human beings to securea sustainable living earth for future generations.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

    Kakekalanicks’s mission is to promote Indigenous art and artists to broad-based audiences and acts to educate the public about the deep-rooted beauty and uniqueness of each Nation’s culture, heritage, and traditions through the medium of the Arts.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

    Categories: Media releases, News

  • MEOPAR Blog: What is the MEOPAR – Lincoln project?

    View from the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek, looking North towards Lake Ontario.  July 2019.

    November 2018 marked the launch of the new MEOPAR-Lincoln Community Sustainability Project in the Town of Lincoln. Although the study is now approaching the one-year mark, there may still be uncertainty about what it is, and how it will help you and your community deal with the impacts of severe weather and environmental changes.

    That’s why we, the researchers involved in the project, have launched this weekly blog series to educate the public on the work we are doing and the ways they can get involved.

    The study launched in November 2018, one year after two back-to-back storms in Lincoln caused massive flooding and prompted the Town’s first-ever voluntary evacuation order for residents living along the Lake Ontario shoreline.The study is a joint venture between Brock University, The Town of Lincoln and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Centre (MEOPAR).

    Based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, MEOPAR is federally funded through the Network of Centres of Excellence and supports interdisciplinary research and development in Canadian universities, provides training to students, and helps mobilize the knowledge gained by research to communities and institutions across Canada.The project in Lincoln is part of a larger one that also includes multiple communities in Quebec. Steve Plante, of the Université du Québec à Rimouski, is the principal investigator in Quebec and Brock University’s Liette Vasseur is the investigator for the Ontario portion. The goal here in Niagara is to support the community of Lincoln as it defines and acts on climate and environmental changes that may affect its development in the future.

    How do we plan to do this? The first step was to create a profile of the town (which will be available online soon), and to interview residents in Lincoln as well as staff at the Town and the Niagara Region. With a better idea of where we’re starting from, the next steps will come this summer and fall, when we will be establishing working groups to examine the specific climate-related issues that people are facing. We will also discuss possible solutions and strategies to reduce the risks associated with changing climate and environmental conditions.

    The project is meant to be very participative and iterative. We hope that everyone can participate and gain a better understanding of the various aspects of climate change, ways to adapt and to be better prepared now, and in the future.Stay tuned to our weekly blog posts that will cover the goals and progress of the study, how to get involved, and broader discussion about climate change and its impacts on not just the Town of Lincoln, but the entire Niagara region.

    Continue to monitor this page to read new blog posts every Tuesday. These posts are written by the MEOPAR Research Team, comprised of Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May and Alex Marino. For more information about the project, contact us using this form, or, via email at

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    Categories: News

  • Shoreline photos sought for Brock climate change study

    Meredith DeCock examines Lincoln’s Lake Ontario shoreline as part of her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded research project. (Photo courtesy of Brian Jaworsky)

    From: The Brock News, Thursday, August 1

    Meredith DeCock is on a mission to determine how Lincoln’s Lake Ontario shoreline has changed over time and the role climate change has played in its evolution.

    But first, the Brock University Sustainability and Society master’s student needs help from the Niagara community.

    DeCock is calling on the public to submit photos of the shoreline and surrounding area that will be used to recreate the coast through time and identify what caused its greatest impacts.

    The study was made possible by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, which she received last month from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Seventeen Brock graduate students were awarded $670,000 in SSHRC funding in July, along with 14 of the University’s researchers who received $1.3 million. DeCock ‘s study is titled: “A changing Lake Ontario shoreline: Learning from the past in the Town of Lincoln.”

    For DeCock’s study, photos from any year that show any segment of the Lincoln shoreline, its surrounding environment and development, as well as destruction due to high water levels, are needed. Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 30.

    In addition to community submissions, DeCock is using historical aerial photographs and GIS software to calculate the shoreline’s physical changes over time. Photos throughout the years will help her determine which windows of time have seen the greatest change.

    She will then look at how specific climatic and non-climatic factors could have influenced these changes.

    “I’m interested in learning what may be responsible for the most significant changes to the shoreline,” DeCock said. “Is it climate or environmental change, or significant development in the area like the construction of the Queen Elizabeth Way?”

    Working alongside her supervisor, Brock Biological Sciences Professor Liette Vasseur, and in conjunction with the Town of Lincoln, DeCock is part of a larger project funded by the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) that is working with six coastal communities along the St. Lawrence Seaway to examine how they can deal with the impacts of climate change.

    Meredith DeCock has drawn a series of views of the Lincoln Lake Ontario shoreline over time that will be used to help calculate its erosion and accretion rates.

    “Meredith’s project fits wonderfully well with the spirit of the larger project of ecosystem-based adaptation for the Town of Lincoln,” Vasseur said. “We really hope this community-based approach can help people link their environment to the changes that are happening. Such a tool can have great potential for communicating with communities.”

    DeCock plans to make the results of her research accessible to the public through an interactive web application that will also be used as a communication tool for the larger MEOPAR project.

    “Studying the history of the shoreline is very important, but if we don’t use our findings to impact the future, then we are missing a huge opportunity,” she said. “I hope that by making the information available, we can positively impact future climate change adaptation decision-making.”

    DeCock is also working with her MEOPAR project partners to create blog posts that will share information on the group’s efforts and climate change in general with the community. These posts will be available on Brock’s UNESCO Chair website in the coming weeks.

    She is thankful for the SSHRC funding that made her study possible.

    “Sustainability science is solution oriented,” she said. “To have the federal government support my research elevates the importance of what I am doing. Climate change is a globally urgent topic and to know that our government sees it as a priority helps me to know I am doing something important with my research.”

    Diane Dupont, Brock’s Interim Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, acknowledged the significant work taken on by the graduate students recognized by SSHRC.

    “To see our graduate students have this incredible success in the SSHRC competition is outstanding,” she said. “Our graduate students are making a direct impact on the lives of Canadians and are becoming the researchers of tomorrow. As they continue to contribute new knowledge to the world of academia, I wish them the utmost success.”

    Read the full story in The Brock News. 




    Categories: News