Recent visitors to the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal have been amazed by twenty photographs resulting from Canadian scientific research. One brightly coloured image in particular is attracting attention — a microscopic image taken by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) scientists showing a white walnut or butternut tree defending itself against an exotic pathogenic fungus.
Canada has the world’s largest stock of standing western redcedar, but this once-dominant species is showing disturbing signs of distress. After a few years of very dry conditions, trees on lower-elevation sites in eastern Vancouver Island are slowly dying. Scientists at the Pacific Forestry Centre are trying to get to the root of the problem.
In the hot summer months, optimizing your home heating system is probably the last thing on your mind. But they’re the perfect time to think about it. And they’re also the perfect time for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) researchers are crunching numbers after spending one of the coldest winters on record measuring energy use and comfort levels in a series of test homes running on hybrid heating — the combination of a natural gas furnace with an electric air source heat pump.
As the recently launched RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) moves one step closer to becoming fully operational, the first images from Canada’s new network of satellites are already starting to come in.
The Arctic Ocean is a vast, cold, isolated and utterly fascinating part of the northern hemisphere. Beneath its surface, thousands of metres below, is an extension of our country known as the continental shelf. And now, based on massive amounts of geoscientific data measuring the seafloor, an additional 1.2 million square kilometres could be added to Canada’s land area of 9.98 million km2.
The world’s oceans in their great vastness support an incredible diversity of aquatic species. But how much do we really know about life beneath the surface? For instance, in the deep waters off the coasts of B.C. and Alaska, a truly unique community of organisms combines to form glass sponge reefs that were once thought to be extinct — a discovery so unexpected that scientists often compare it to finding a herd of dinosaurs still roaming the earth.
The boreal forest of North America developed after the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. We might expect that climate change and human occupation of the territory would put the boreal forest at greater risk of fire. But a recent scientific study involving Martin Girardin, a research scientist from the Laurentian Forestry Centre at the Canadian Forest Service, has found the opposite.
Historically, much of the waste from mining activities has posed long-term liability issues with little or no economic value. But what if mining companies could recover the metals, like gold, and then sell them? The answer, these days, is obvious: they could reduce their environmental impact and, at the same time, contribute to a green economy.