Meeting Summaries – 2014-2015


The NSIS is pleased to provide you with our brochure on the events for 2014-2015.

October 6, 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Alan Ruffmann
President Geomarine Associates Ltd., Halifax.
Honourary Research Associate, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University
Title: Earthquake Hazard in Atlantic Canada: Of Concern or Not?

We do not generally think of Atlantic Canada as a seismically-active region and few in the audience will have felt a local seismic event. Yet Canada’s most tragic known historical earthquake (magnitude 7.2) occurred on November 18, 1929 about 265 km south of the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland; the resultant tsunami killed 28 residents in the nearby coastal communities. The three largest earthquakes known in eastern North America all took place at an offshore epicentre in 1755, 1929 and 1933 possibly all at an epicentre located close to the edge of the ‘continental shelf’, or at what is referred to as the ‘shelf break’. The “Maremoto de Lisboa” was observed in NE Newfoundland on November 1, 1755. Other home-grown more modest tsunamis are known locally in 1843, 1848 1864, perhaps in 1914 and 1926.

Alan Ruffman will discuss and illustrate his 30 years of research into Atlantic historic seismicity and he will lay out the case for a newly-defined seismic source zone off southwestern Nova Scotia. He will show how a brief plagiarized March 18, 1774 Halifax newspaper account has lead back to defining an uncatalogued tragic Gulfo de Cádiz tsunamigenic earthquake in July of 1773 and he will describe the scientific serendipity that has now allowed a New Year’s Eve 1882, widely-reported, felt earthquake, in Maine, N.B. and N.S., to be reclassified as a low-level meteor ‘airburst’ – not as a tectonic earthquake.

November 3, 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Location: K.C. Irving Centre, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Please note the lecture location)
This lecture is presented in partnership with the K. C. Irving Environmental Science Centre
Speaker: Dr. John Shaw
Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada
Title: Changing Sea Levels in Atlantic Canada – Past, Present, and Future

Dr. Shaw will describe how changing sea levels in Atlantic Canada since the end of the last ice age drowned the large islands on the continental shelf and created Prince Edward Island. He will show how rising sea levels may be recorded in the Legend of Glooscap. He will describe current sea-level changes and their impacts on coasts, and discuss the predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea levels.

December 1, 2014

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Dr. David C. Mosher
Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada – Atlantic,
Natural Resources Canada (Bedford Institute of Oceanography)
Title: A New Wave of Exploration of the Arctic Ocean

A resurgence of exploration of the Arctic Ocean has occurred over the last decade as Arctic coastal States have undertaken programs to map their continental margins as part of the requirements of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. These renewed efforts, in addition to reduced ice cover over the Arctic seas, have resulted in unprecedented geophysical data acquisition in some of the remotest areas of the Arctic. For Canada’s part, in excess of 15000 line-km of new seismic reflection and refraction data and 38000 line-km of multibeam bathymetric data have been acquired. The consequence of these new data is a rapid evolution in our understanding of the geology of the Arctic, ranging from its tectonic creation, to its sedimentation history, to its modern geomorphological context.

This past summer, Dr. Mosher was Chief Scientist aboard CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent during the Canadian Polar Expedition 2014. A series of informative and entertaining blog posts from the Arctic research voyage are available online.

January 5, 2015

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Dr. Rachel Chang
Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair in Atmospheric Science
Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University
Title: Methane from Northern Permafrost – A Cause for Concern?

Large areas of northern regions are covered by permafrost. As the Arctic warms, the permafrost will degrade and lead to increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane. Global atmospheric methane concentrations have recently begun to increase again after being stable for a decade and the Arctic is one of the possible sources. In this talk, Dr. Chang will discuss recent publications about different possible sources that could be contributing to this increase including results from her research in the Arctic.

February 2, 2015

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Dr. Shannon Sterling
Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences
Dalhousie University
Title: Water for Our Changing Planet – Lessons from the Past Century and the Face of our Future

Water determines the potential for life and how our planet functions. In this lecture, Dr. Sterling will show you how water flows and is stored through the global water cycle, and how these flows interact with our climate and plant systems. Then she will illustrate how humans alter the global water cycle through human development and climate change, drawing upon water crisis case studies throughout the past century. Finally, she will explore the implications of these water cycle changes for our future planet.

[Note: NSIS apologizes for any inconveniences as this previously advertised lecture by Dr. Shannon Sterling, “Water for Our Changing Planet – Lessons from the Past Century and the Face of our Future,” has been postponed until autumn 2015 due to unforeseen circumstances.]

March 2, 2015

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Rick Didsbury
General Manager of Research & Development Operations, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
Title: The Future of Nuclear Science and Technology Research in Canada

Electricity from nuclear power is increasingly recognized as a dependable source of carbon-free energy complementing other carbon-free sources such as wind and solar generated electricity. Going forward nuclear power will play a significant role in ensuring the global community reduces greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere as demand for energy increases. This talk will focus on some of the current major nuclear power research and development thrusts in Canada, particularly those involving Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. It will also touch on emerging areas expected to grow in importance as the global demand for nuclear power increases.

March 16, 2015 [Please note the location of this lecture]

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Helen Creighton Room, Alderney Gate Public Library,
40 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Speaker: Gordon Fader
President, Atlantic Marine Geological Consulting
Title: The Shipwrecks of Halifax Harbour and Approaches

During mapping of Halifax Harbour and approaches by the Geological Survey of Canada at BIO, numerous shipwrecks were discovered. Only a few were previously known and the discoveries opened a new chapter in the history of the Harbour. With assistance from the Maritime Museum and local divers, Gordon Fader was able to piece together the stories of their demise. Additionally, knowledge of the seabed using modern high resolution mapping technology has revealed detailed characteristics of the vessels and what has happened to them since their sinking. The stories of the shipwrecks will be elaborated against a background of the seabed of the Harbour.

March 30, 2015

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Museum of Natural History, Halifax
Speaker: Dr. Thomas J. Duck
Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University
Title: Lessons Learned from the War on Science

Science in the public interest in Canada has been under attack in recent years. Programs crucial to the health and safety of Canadians have been eliminated, scientists have been muzzled, science library collections have been destroyed, and decades of progress in environmental law and regulation have been upended. In this talk Dr. Duck will review the evidence for this “War on Science”, describe the early warning signs, explore its consequences, and discuss what we have learned with a view to the future.

May 4, 2015

Time: 7:30pm
Location: Great Hall, University Club, Dalhousie University, 6259 Alumni Crescent, Halifax
Speaker: Dr. Mirwais Qaderi
Department of Biology, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Title: Crop Responses to Multiple Components of Climate Change

In agricultural systems, crops experience multiple co-occurring environmental factors. Plants respond differently to multiple factors than to a single factor; thus, a comprehensive study of the effects of multiple factors on crops is required. Such an investigation will lead to a better understanding of how plants react to rapid climate change. This information is essential to safeguard our food production in the future. Dr. Qaderi will discuss the single and interactive effects of three components of climate change − carbon dioxide, temperature and drought − on crops and will present some of his own research findings related to the topic.