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News & Events

Jun
11
Fri
Nigel J. Bunce – 2004 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
Jun 11 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Environmental chemistry and toxicology of halogenated aromatic compounds.

Abstract: Halogenated aromatic compounds (HAHs) include families of environmental significance such as the polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), furans (PCDFs), and biphenyls (PCBs), as well as the more recently studied polybrominated diphenyl esters (PBDEs). This talk will cover the following related topics:

  • The origin of these various classes of HAHs in the environment;
  • Aspects of their environmental toxicology;
  • Toxicological interactions between HAHs in the context of the aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor mediated mechanism of signal transduction.

Brochure - Y-File Article

May
25
Wed
John P. Smol – 2005 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
May 25 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Warnings from Lake Mud: Long-term perspectives on climatic and environmental change.

Abstract: Interest in climate change research has taken on new relevance with the realization that human activities, such as the accelerated release of the so-called greenhouse gases, may be altering the thermal properties of our atmosphere. Important social, economic, and scientific questions include the following. Is climate changing? If so, can these changes be related to human activities? Are episodes of extreme weather, such as droughts or hurricanes, increasing in frequency? Long-term meteorological data, on broad spatial and temporal scales, are needed to answer these questions. Unfortunately, such data were never gathered; therefore, indirect proxy methods must be used to infer past climatic trends. Fortunately, aquatic systems archive a tremendously important library of information of past changes in their sediments. For example, a large number of organisms leave fossils in lake muds, which paleolimnologists can then use to track past environmental conditions.  These studies have provided important insights into the natural modes of climate change, have determined the frequency of extreme climatic events, and have tracked the influence of human activities on our planet’s ecosystems. This lecture will summarize some recent studies that have documented marked climatic variability that is outside the range captured by the instrumental record, and other proxy data that have a strong bearing on sustainability of human societies. As arctic ecosystems are often the first to show signs of environmental change, and do so to the greatest degree, examples from polar regions will be highlighted. Only with such long-term perspective can we understand natural climatic variability and the potential influences of human activities on climate, and thereby increase our ability to understand future climate. Brochure - Y-File Article

Sep
21
Thu
Anne R. Douglass – 2006 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
Sep 21 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Discoveries from EOS Aura.

Abstract: Aura, the third and final of three large observatories that are part of NASA s Earth Observing System, was launched July 15,2004. Aura carries four instruments - the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS), all of which measure atmospheric constituents.

Aura measurements provide information to address broad questions about the Earth atmosphere, particularly concerning the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer, tropospheric air quality, and climate change. TES has made the simultaneous measurements of carbon monoxide and ozone in the lower and upper troposphere. OM1 continues to observe the total ozone column and measures columns of important pollutants like NO2 at unprecedented horizontal resolution and coverage. MLS measures profiles of stratospheric ozone and constituents that affect ozone from the mesosphere into the upper troposphere. This talk will highlight results from Aura s first years in orbit, and will emphasize the way information from Aura and other satellites has contributed to the development, evaluation, and application of global chemistry climate models. Brochure - Y-File Article

Sep
16
Tue
Tee L. Guidotti – 2008 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
Sep 16 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Molecules, Meaning and the Prepared Mind.

Abstract: More than most fields of science, the study of atmospheric chemistry and climate change presents examples of chance favouring the prepared mind. Climate change researchers deal with phenomena that are seen but not known. Contemporary issues in atmospheric pollution and change have been profoundly influenced by the perception of the problem and by reasoning from analogy. Cases are presented from occupational health and airborne hazards, ambient air pollution, and global atmospheric change demonstrating how evolving perception has been both driven by and is productive of new insights into the health effects of exposure. Thinking "out of the box" is more than a cliché. Progress in this field has depended critically on openness to new ways of thinking, some of which has been counter-intuitive.Brochure - Y-File Article

Nov
20
Fri
Daniel Krewski – 2009 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
Nov 20 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Population Health Risk Assessment: Theory and Practice.

Abstract: The traditional medical model of health and health policy development has focused on individuals and the role of medical care in preventing and treating disease and injury. Recent attention to health inequities and social determinants of health has raised the profile of population health and evidence based strategies for improving the health of whole populations.

At the same time, risk science has emerged as an important new discipline for the assessment and management of risks to health. This presentation traces historical developments in the fields of risk management and population health, and proposes a joint population health risk management framework that integrates the key elements of both fields. The use of the framework is illustrated through analyses of specific population health risk issues, including environmental radon, ambient air pollution, and prion diseases. Brochure - Y-File Article

May
10
Mon
Ronald Keith O’Dor – 2010 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
May 10 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title:  Changing Life of a Changing Ocean.

Abstract:  New technologies demonstrated by Census of Marine Life projects have transformed the ocean from dark and mysterious to transparent and understandable. The Canadian led Ocean Tracking Network is one example that allows us to know when commercial fish and conservation icons go where and records the conditions they experience. Changes in atmospheric chemistry are warming and acidifying the ocean. Where life has to go to survive is still open to debate. Corals can’t move and perhaps even coral sands will dissolve! Traditional knowledge about fish distributions will change dramatically with warming. Why subsidize fuel burning vessels to search the ocean for fish when we could subsidize the tagging of fish so that they tell us where they can be caught cheaply with minimum impact on the environment? Brochure - Y-File Article

Jun
29
Wed
Peter J. Dillon – 2011 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
Jun 29 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Biogeochemistry - How the movement of chemicals through the Boreal environment can be used to quantify the effects of stressors.

Abstract: The Boreal biome comprising about 60% of Canada‘s land area, includes over 2 million lakes, about 85% of our country’s freshwater and about 25% of global wetlands. Despite the magnitude of this resource, an increasing number of environmental stressors have put it at risk.
The southern part of the biome, including both freshwaters and terrestrial ecosystems, has been affected by acid deposition for at least a half century. Contamination by mercury is widespread throughout the Boreal, and elevated levels of trace organic contaminants of many types are now measurable over much of the area.  Contamination by other metals, once isolated to regions near mining and smelting activities, is more widespread.  In the past few decades, climate change has come to the forefront, and it is clear that the Boreal will be one of the more heavily affected parts of Canada.  Although climate change can directly effect the biological communities of the Boreal, most effects will be mediated through alterations in environmental chemistry.  In addition, climate change can and is altering the response of lakes and their catchments to other stressors, for example, is reducing the rate of recovery of ecosystems from declining acid deposition rates.  For an quantitative understanding of how the Boreal biome responds to changes in the magnitude of stressors, it is critical to have measurements that go beyond simple description of ecosystem properties such as concentrations of various chemicals in different compartments.  Instead, measurement of factors such as the flux or rate of movement of substances between compartments is essential if we are to understand how to minimize the effects of the multiple stressors.  The development of new analytical methodologies such as multi-collector ICP-MS has led to new approaches in studying environmental stressors.  A few of these new methods will be highlighted in this presentation. Brochure - Y-File Article

May
28
Mon
Warwick F. Vincent – 2012 @ Senate Chamber, N940, Ross Building, York University
May 28 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Title: Rapid Ecosystem Change Across Canada’s Arctic Frontier

Abstract: The Canadian Arctic contains a spectacular variety of aquatic ecosystem types including vast networks of lakes in glaciated basins, permafrost thaw lakes, large rivers discharging to the Arctic Ocean, ice shelves, lagoons and other coastal ecosystems, and perennially ice-capped, solar heated lakes.  Our analyses of the molecular microbiology of these waters have revealed diverse communities in each of the three domains of microbial life, with implications for biogeography, food web structure and biogeochemical processes including greenhouse gas fluxes.

The Arctic is currently warming at more than twice the global average, and some of these aquatic ecosystems have begun to experience step-like changes in their physical and ecological regimes. Over the last ten years, several types of ice-dependent ecosystems at our study sites in the High Arctic have experienced abrupt changes, resulting in complete habitat loss at some locations. To obtain a longer term perspective, we analysed coastal sediment cores taken behind the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf (Antoniades et al. 2011). The results indicate large variability in past ice conditions, however the synchronicity of its current break-up with the collapse of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula region is without precedent over the last 8000 years, implying that we have entered a new phase of pole-to-pole deglaciation (Hodgson 2011). Our observations also imply that global climate change has begun to induce abrupt, discontinuous shifts in high latitude ecosystem structure and function, and that Canada’s Arctic frontier is moving into a new dynamic state that we urgently need to better understand.  Brochure - Y-File Article

 

 

Oct
18
Fri
Paul T. Anastas – 2013 @ York University, Room 103 Life Science Building
Oct 18 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

23 Annual Morris Katz Lecturer, Paul T. Anastas

Speaker:  Professor Paul T. Anastas, Department of Chemistry, Director, Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering, Yale University:

Title:  Sustainability through Chemistry: The Path Forward

Abstract:  Society is on an unsustainable path. The change that is needed is urgent. One of the few human forces of change that is capable of bringing about the needed in the time frame required is called innovation. Green Chemistry and Green Engineering are fields that use the spirit and tools of innovation to design the products, processes and systems that are the basis of our society and our economy so they will be more sustainable. This talk will focus on the scientific achievements that have resulted in positive impact thus far and the steps that are being taken to ensure that the innovations resulting from these field are not just incremental but rather, transformative. Brochure - Y-File

 

May
16
Fri
Prof. Philip K. Hopke, Clarkson University – to deliver 2014 Morris Katz Memorial Lecture in Environmental Research @ 103 Life Science Bldg
May 16 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Philip K. Hopke

Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor
Director of the Center for
Air Resources Engineering and Science
Founding Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment
Clarkson University

Forty+ Years of Development and Application of Receptor
Modeling: Where are we now?

Friday, May 16th, 2014
2:30 p.m.

103 Life Science Building
York University
4700 Keele Street, Toronto

Abstract

Initial efforts to use atmospheric composition data to identify and quantify pollution sources began more than 40 years ago. The development of these methods started about 40 years ago and they have continued to evolve up to the  present. Initial efforts using factor analysis were published in 1968 while the chemical mass balance was first suggested in 1971. Initially there was little demand for these tools by the air quality management community because they were not initially recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an acceptable part of the planning process (SIP). Major developments occurred as part of the Portland Air Quality Study (PAQS) in which receptor models were an integral part of the effort and led to substantial corrections to the dispersion model used for air quality planning. A critical step occurred with the promulgation of the 1987 PM10 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) when one of the EPA's guidance documents indicated that receptor models could be used in SIP development. Subsequently in the 1990s, the EPA supported the development and distribution of several receptor models. The application of these models has now become routine and their use in the context of air quality management in the US will be presented. The current state-of-the-art in the application of receptor models will be presented with an application to data from St. Louis, MO.

Biographical Sketch

Philip K. Hopke joined Clarkson University in 1989 as the first Robert A. Plane Professor. From July 1997 to June 1999, he served as Dean of the Graduate School and from July 1999 to June 2000, he was Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Head of the Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences. In July 2000 his principal appointment moved to the Department of Chemical Engineering while retaining appointment in Chemistry and Civil and Environmental Engineering. As of January 1, 2002, he became the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science. On July 1, 2010 he became the founding director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment.  His research interests are multivariate statistical methods for data analysis; chemical characterization of ambient aerosol samples; emissions and properties of solid biomass combustion systems; characterization of source/receptor relationships for ambient air pollutants; experimental studies of homogeneous, heterogeneous, and ion induced nucleation; indoor air quality; exposure and risk assessment. Professor Hopke has authored or coauthored over 534 papers in scientific journals, more than 85 chapters in books and peer-reviewed proceedings, written 1 and edited 5 books, directed 54 Master of Science and 35 Doctor of Philosophy theses, and written numerous technical reports.  BrochureY-File

Updated on December 6th, 2012.