AU researcher appointed Canada Research Chair in Hydrological Sustainability

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Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Scott Ketcherson John R. Evans Leaders FundAthabasca University is pleased to announce that the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has named Assistant Professor Dr. Scott Ketcheson as a Canada Research Chair in Hydrological Sustainability.

Dr. Ketcheson’s dynamic field-based research aims to help Canadians better understand water availability for wetlands and streams in Alberta, helping to advance their understanding of the function, sensitivity, and vulnerability of ecosystems — particularly, as it relates to human-and climate-induced environmental change.

“Although conducting research at many locations across Canada, my research program has more recently focused on catchments within the Athabasca River Basin,” says Dr. Ketcheson.

“I am a hydrologist with a passion for peatlands. There are many current and pressing environmental challenges of great importance, many of which are directly relevant to the discipline of hydrology,” he adds, citing extreme weather, water shortages, natural disasters and preparedness for climate change, as issues of “particularly pressing” concern.

What Scott Ketcheson’s research intends to do

Dr. Ketcheson points to recent extreme wildfire and flooding events in Canada that have cost the economy billions of dollars. He explains it is crucial to the Canadian economy, and to Canadians, that “we understand the susceptibility of Canadian watercourses and ecosystems to climate and human-induced change.” “This is what my research program aims to do,” Ketcheson continues. “My research chair title is in “Hydrological Sustainability,” and I would like to think that my research team and I are working toward achieving ecosystem sustainability through understanding hydrological processes.”

Dr. Ketcheson has been conducting research in the Athabasca River Basin since 2011. He has made recent advances both in oil sands reclamation research, and in understanding the hydrological functioning of wetland-dominated headwater catchments in northern Alberta.

“As a result of Dr. Ketcheson’s research, Canadians will garner a better understanding of water movement, both within and among landscape units, in undisturbed, headwater catchments, in addition to gaining a clear picture of how human and climate-related disturbances may impact the water environment,” said Athabasca University Faculty of Science and Technology Dean Lisa Carter.

Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund

Dr. Ketcheson was also awarded a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which provides the infrastructure needed to support his research chair program.

“I am excited to be able to establish a headwater catchment observatory in the lower Athabasca River Basin, which will be the first of its kind in the region. My team and I will be using both traditional hydrological techniques and innovative sensor networks to gain a direct process-based understanding of the hydrological function of headwater catchments.”

Dr. Ketcheson’s most recent study, from December 2017, is entitled, The hydrological functioning of a constructed fen wetland watershed, with a focus on the landform-and-drainage system reconstruction required in mine reclamation, and the related hydrological implications on the regulation of wetland function and development.

Here is the new Canada Research Chair, Scott Ketcheson’s interview with Ryan Jespersen on Edmonton’s 630 CHED radio: