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Date: March 08, 2004

Two UVic researchers awarded $3.35 million

—Money will finance world-class climate and ocean research facilities—

Climate and ocean research at UVic got a big boost today with the announcement of two grants totalling more than $3.35 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver will use a $2.42 million grant to create a regional supercomputer facility at UVic for advanced studies on climate change. Geophysicist Dr. Ross Chapman will spend his $932,500 grant on improvements to ROPOS, Canada’s world-class deep research submersible. Both researchers are faculty members in UVic’s school of earth and ocean sciences.

“This is excellent news for UVic ,” says Dr. Martin Taylor, UVic’s vice president research. “Both projects are funding world-class facilities that will build on UVic’s role as an international leader in climate and ocean research.”

The new climate modelling facility will feature one of the world’s fastest supercomputers. “Over the last 10 years we’ve developed an earth systems climate model that is now used by researchers around the world,” says Weaver. “Now we want to look at climate questions that haven’t been addressed by anyone, anywhere.”

The team will model the climate system over the last 135,000 years to try and understand its influence on human evolution. “To better inform industry and government policy decisions, we need climate models that represent the interactions of economic, social, technological and biogeochemical factors,” says Weaver. “This facility will help us do that.”

The ROPOS (Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Science) submersible, operated by the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility and housed at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, is used by scientists from many universities, including UVic.

The CFI-funded improvements—which will be managed by the facility on behalf of UVic—will allow ROPOS to: operate in deep water on both coasts of Canada; navigate accurately and operate more frequently in mid-depths; obtain more types of simultaneous observations; and conduct more precise and delicate manipulations.

The modifications will support UVic research on gas hydrates and fluid flow in sediments, deep sea ecology and biodiversity, and resources from hydrothermal vents.

ROPOS will also be equipped to transmit real-time video from the seafloor to scientists and students ashore anywhere on the continent. “All of these changes will make ROPOS the first-choice submersible for ocean scientists worldwide,” says Chapman, who in 2002 used ROPOS to discover the largest amount of methane hydrates ever discovered on the seafloor off Canada.

The two grants are part of a national announcement made in Ottawa today. In total, CFI is awarding $585.9 million to 126 research projects at universities, colleges, hospitals and other non-profit research institutions across Canada. The CFI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established by the federal government to support innovation in Canadian universities and research institutions.
Media contacts:
Dr. Andrew Weaver (Earth & Ocean Sciences) at (250) 472-4001 or weaver@uvic.ca
Dr. Ross Chapman (Earth & Ocean Sciences) at (250) 472-4340 or chapman@uvic.ca
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

Note: a high-resolution colour image of ROPOS is available on request.

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

(image: fern)