UPEI Climate Research Lab costal impacts project supported by MEOPAR and Irving Shipbuilding

$252,000 award will help communities plan for and adapt to coastal erosion, sea level rise, storm surge
Posted: 
Thursday, February 18, 2016
UPEI graduate student Derek Ellis launches an aerial drone for use in gathering geographical data

The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network and Irving Shipbuilding announced yesterday more than $1.8 million of support for research projects to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate and respond to marine risk. Among the projects is one lead by Dr. Adam Fenech, director of UPEI’s Climate Research Lab.

The funding will support new technology for monitoring and visualizing the impacts of sea-level rise, erosion, and storm surges in costal environments. It will also support five graduate students at UPEI.

Dr. Fenech and his team will use detailed coastal sensors mounted on flying drones to capture high-resolution imagery of First Nations communities on Prince Edward Island—Lennox Island and Rocky Point—to create a digital simulation for each community. These simulations will show detailed topography and potential areas at risk to sea-level rise and erosion-related impacts. These tools will help communities identify immediate risks to infrastructure and will aid in long-term planning to prepare for, and adapt to future coastal changes.

Don MacKenzie, Executive Director of partner organization, MCPEI, stated “The First Nations of PEI depend strongly on the coast, and on marine resources, especially the fisheries. One of our communities is a small Island, and it is crucial for us to develop approaches to deal with a wide range of marine hazards, from storm surges to sea level rise. We look forward enthusiastically to the benefits this project brings to all our communities.”

“The MEOPAR project is an important extension of the CLIVE virtual reality technology developed by Professor Fenech and his colleagues at the UPEI Climate Research Lab,” said Dr. Robert Gimour, Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies at UPEI. “The addition of high resolution data from instrumented drones will enhance the lab's ability to predict climate-related threats to coastal infrastructure, residences and businesses, which will, in turn, aid in the development of adaptation strategies to minimize the economic impact of such threats. The substantial financial contribution of Irving Shipbuilding to the project underscores the expected economic benefits from this approach to risk mitigation.”

Irving Shipbuilding contributed $1 million to the $1.8 million initiative.  Irving Shipbuilding’s funding is pursuant to its value proposition obligation under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, whereby Irving Shipbuilding is committed to spending 0.5.% of contract revenues with the aim of creating a sustainable marine industry across Canada.

MEOPAR was created through the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence Program in 2012. The MEOPAR network is building Canada’s capacity to anticipate and respond to marine risk by funding interdisciplinary academic research, developing highly qualified personnel with expertise in marine risk and response, and by connecting academic research and technology to national and international partners in government, industry, and the public sector. To learn more, please visit www.meopar.ca.

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
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