Hydrology, Earth and Environmental Systems

Modeling and understanding hydrological, ecological and geophysical systems and interactions with the human environment.

Our research is focused on understanding, assessing, and modeling physical environmental systems and processes and the landscapes they create, including how environmental systems are changing under natural and human-induced stress. This includes research on water supply resilience and vulnerability, marine environments, responses of river flow and glacier cover to climate change, fluvial geomorphology, erosion modeling, wetland science, and eco-hydrology.

Research also occurs at topical boundaries, using applied geomatics and other tools and exploring the implications of physical environmental change for policy, planning, and management of the human environment. This includes research focused on flood risk management, environmental impact assessment, and decision support tools for wetland assessment and watershed management.

Our Department is home to the Centre for Hydrology, a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change and the Director and Associate Director of the CFREF-funded Global Water Futures program – the largest university-led freshwater research program in the world. The Centre for Hydrology currently manages much of its research relating to mountain hydrology and earth system prediction at the Coldwater Laboratory in Canmore, Alberta, its sensor development and drone laboratory at the Smart Water Systems Laboratory at the National Hydrology Research Centre of Environment and Climate Change Canada and its research on prairies, boreal forest and northern Canada from the Canadian Centre for Water Forecasting and Prediction  at 121 Research Driver in Innovation Place.

Some of our current research projects include: 

  • Rocky Mountain water supply resilience and vulnerability evaluation
  • Expanded testing and development of the Prairie Hydrological Model in Prairie pothole watersheds
  • Long-term ecology and seabed habitat mapping, Frobisher Bay, Nunavut
  • Assessing community structure of marine benthos, Canadian Beaufort Sea shelf
  • Understanding the alterations of hydrogeomorphic processes by beavers
  • Assessment of PAH distributions in sediments in the Alberta oil sands monitoring area and western Lake Athabasca
  • Assessing beaver influence on mountain peatland form and ecohydrologic function

Applied and Scientific Geomatics

Advancing GIS, spatial statistics and remote sensing, with applications to problems in the social, physical and environmental sciences.

Our research is focused on the development of remote sensing techniques for assessing forests and grasslands productivity, using GIS and spatial statistics in health research and urban geography, and developing tools to examine human mobility, navigation, and interaction in urban environments.

Research also occurs at topical boundaries, contributing the development and application of geomatics for understanding physical systems and supporting policy and planning decisions. This includes collaborative research with computer science, plant science, and other scholars, practitioners and decision makers from the social, health and natural sciences. Our work in this area includes the development of new tools and the integration of emerging technologies, such as the development of smartphone applications for indoor positioning and mobility tracking, the use of field-based sensor systems, and the integration of drones for environmental modeling.

Some of our current research projects include: 

  • Integrating measures of grassland function using Remote Sensing
  • Development of monitoring methods for dead materials in Alpine pastures using Remote Sensing data in Qinghai-Tibet plateau
  • Strategic Envrionmental Assessment (SEA) application for landscape-based, temporal analysis of wetland change in urban environments
  • Detecting spatial and temporal changes in land cover on Aboriginal reserves
  • Visualizing and communicating urban and transposition spatial-temporal data
  • Measuring the impacts of long-term public transport service disruptions and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies.
  • Establishing functional relationship between public transit ridership and local and regional accessibility measures.

Planning and Management of the Built and Natural Environment

Planning and design of urban and rural spaces, and assessing and managing human interactions with the natural environment.

Our research is focused on the built and natural environment, including human well-being and the planning and design of urban and rural spaces. This includes research on the origins of city form, urban quality, transportation system performance, sustainable cities, municipal governance, Indigenous health, indigenous urbanism, and human behavior and navigation.

Research also occurs at topical boundaries, including natural resources planning and management, and exploring human interactions with the natural environment using applied geomatics and other analytical tools. This includes research focused on watershed planning and management, flood risk management, environmental policy and planning, land use and transportation systems interactions, sustaining northern communities, energy policy, and environmental and social impact assessment.

Our research is supported by collaborations with a variety of external government, industry and community partnerships and on-campus partnerships, including the School of Environment and Sustainability, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit.

Some of our current research projects include: 

  • Baseline analysis for marine shipping impact assessment in Nunavut
  • Source water protection planning with First Nations in Saskatchewan 
  • Integration of food security considerations in regional strategic environmental assessment
  • Creating demand for a downtown lifestyle in Saskatoon
  • Indigenous health policy network analysis of northern Saskatchewan: linking climate change, youth suicide, decision making and policy gaps
  • The emergence of Type 2 diabetes in First Nations and Métis communities
  • Exploring current and future potential health risks associated with private drinking water well use
  • Establishing First Nation indicators of water-related health and wellbeing  
  • Developing coupled system approaches to water-related health
  • Women and water fetching in rural Uganda and Ghana
  • Watershed and habitat protection planning with First Nations
  • Climate change adaptation planning with First Nations
  • Exploring the concept of complete neighborhoods (15-minute city) and its application in small and medium-sized cities in Canada