Overview of the Institution and Key Personnel

Canadian Node:

Dalhousie University is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. It was founded in 1818 by the ninth Earl of Dalhousie and is one of Canada’s leading universities. Student enrollment exceeds 15,000 of which 1,200 are international students from more than 110 countries; since its establishment the university has produced 86 Rhodes Scholars. Annual research funding exceeds $120M and it is Atlantic Canada’s leading research university.

Ocean research is a top priority for Dalhousie and one of its main strengths and areas of investment as Ocean Studies is one of two Senate-approved Areas of Special Emphasis at the university. The university has 101 faculty engaged in ocean-related research and 47 of them are based in the Faculty of Science (which has just under 200 faculty). The Department of Oceanography's research covers physical, biological, chemical oceanography and marine geophysics. Marine prediction is a theme than runs through the research activities of most of the faculty. The Department has 20 full time faculty members, 23 adjunct professors and about 8 postdoctoral fellows and 50 graduate students at any one time.

Dalhousie University is an important component of a university-government-industry cluster focused on oceans industry and research, located in Halifax and the adjacent city of Dartmouth. The cluster is Canada’s third largest oceans industry cluster (after Vancouver and Victoria) and the largest on Canada’s Atlantic Coast. It is also a major center for ocean research and development. For example, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography is the home of 500 ocean scientists, engineers, technicians, natural resource managers and support staff. It conducts research on a wide range of topics including ocean modeling, impacts of climate change, environmental protection, fisheries and natural resource management. Defence Research Development Canada Atlantic has 240 staff and undertakes defence related research on topics such as underwater sensing and detection, modelling and simulation, and naval platform design.

Environment Canada is a large government department employing about 6000 people nationally with an annual budget of over half a billion dollars. About 60% of its workforce and 80% of its budget is devoted to science and technology. Its mandate includes forecasting weather and environmental change. It has close ties with Dalhousie University which provides office space for a number of its employees in the Department of Oceanography. Joint research activities include storm surge and flood forecasting, flood risk assessment, and more recently, coupled atmosphere-ocean modeling and data assimilation.

Dalhousie University was the lead institution for, the recently ended, pan-Canadian research network called Global Ocean Atmosphere Prediction and Predictability. The GOAPP network brought together ocean and atmospheric researchers from across Canada to improve forecasts of the ocean and atmosphere on time scales from days to decades and spatial scales of tens to tens of thousands of kilometers. The network had 18 senior co-investigators from 10 Canadian universities and supported approximately 40 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and technicians. The LRF Chair is building on the research accomplishments of the GOAPP network which finished in December 2010.

Dalhousie is currently making major investments in oceans-related research. It is spearheading the founding and housing of a new Marine Research Institute as a jointly-owned, non-profit corporation with Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the National Research Council and Natural Resources Canada. The Institute will bring together multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral teams to address marine research "grand challenges", including the most important environmental topics of the day, such as prediction of change in the ocean and atmosphere (weather and climate), marine conservation and marine resource management. The direct involvement of the private sector in the Institute will lead to the development and commercialization of new technologies. Recently Dalhousie passed to the second phase of a competition for a new, $10 million Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology. (Following a first phase, 40 proposals were invited to compete in a competition for 20 CERC.) In support of this proposal, Dalhousie University has committed to hiring six new faculty members. The CERC’s research program will be directly relevant to that of the LRF Chair (e.g., areas of overlap include coupled modelling, data assimilation, and climate change).

Professor Jinyu Sheng is the LRF Chair in Modeling and Prediction of Marine Environmental Extremes and the node leader for the Canadian node of the Network. He is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University. He also holds the associate industrial research chair funded by NSERC / MARTEC / MSC in "regional ocean modelling and prediction". His main research interests include coastal and shelf dynamics, regional ocean modelling and prediction, and data analysis and assimilation. He was involved in developing the semi-diagnostic method and using this method in developing a new two-way nesting technique. His research team has participated in several multi-agency research programs including CMEP, AquaNet, and SOLAS in the last six years. The team developed various circulation models for Lunenburg Bay of Nova Scotia, Bras d'or Lakes of Cape Breton, Huron Lake of Ontario, and Belize Shelf of the Caribbean Sea. respectively. His group developed a 5-level nested-grid coastal circulation prediction system (NCOPS) for Lunenburg Bay based on Dalcoast and CANDIE.

Professor Keith Thompson acted as interim node leader during the hiring and establishment of the Chair. Professor Thompson holds a Canada Research Chair in Marine Prediction and Environmental Statistics at Dalhousie University. He is jointly appointed in the Department of Oceanography and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. His research interests include shelf and deep ocean modelling, data assimilation, sea level variations and coastal flooding, and the analysis of extremes. His research group developed the first operational storm surge model for the east coast of Canada and he is presently working with colleagues from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on an eddy resolving, operational forecast model of the North Atlantic. He has been a member of the Science Advisory Committee for the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) and the Coastal Ocean Observations Panel of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) from 1998 to 2005. He was co-lead of the GOAPP research network with Professor H. Ritchie.