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Exploring the capacity to automatically monitor bird migration patterns using the Canadian weather radar network

(Prof. Frédéric Fabry, McGill School of Environment & Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences)

As weather radar is already networked in Canada, and is capable of accurately detecting bird echoes, it is a practical tool to quantify bird migration. Our project goal is to conduct the first step of this quantification and automation in the statistical program R, leading to the research question, “Can we develop an algorithm to automatically detect bird migrations using Canadian weather radar?” Supervised classification of McGill University’s weather radar data will provide ranges of parameters for “bird,” “land,” or “precipitation,” and this process will then be automated. The output of the produced algorithm displays a dataset indicating “bird” and “not-bird” pixels for one elevation angle at one time. The algorithm is malleable and can easily be incorporated in other code for future temporal and spatial analysis. It is also written in an open-source program, increasing the access and utilization of this algorithm.

What is a safe level of exposure?

(Ms. Katia Opalka, Adjunct Professor, McGill School of Environment)

Thirty women in Orange County, California were left with residual tungsten in their breasts after a clinical trial for intraoperative radiotherapy, but because the health effects of longterm tungsten exposure are unknown, a monitoring plan is required to evaluate the impact of exposure on these women. The information gathered in these literature reviews was used to determine which tests would identify key variables and efficiently assess these variables. The results of this project were a detailed review of the potential health effects of tungsten and a monitoring plan that includes a logistics section and budget.

The role of auditors in advancing sustainable development

(Ms. Katia Opalka, Adjunct Professor, McGill School of Environment)

In order to gain a better understanding of how governments assess their environmental performance, this project analysed the environmental review and auditing bodies of various jurisdictions. While some of the jurisdictions (Canada, Québec, Alberta, United States) use formal auditing structures to look at how they are performing with regards to the environment, other governments (Germany and France), use another set of tools – which this paper will collectively call reviews – to assess their environmental performance. The auditing approach is more structured than reviewing, but reviewing allows for a more flexible and case‐by‐case assessment approach.

Ecosystem management – Prince Edward Island (Part I)

(Prof. Brian Leung, McGill School of Environment & Department of Biology)

Agriculture and mussel aquaculture are important economic sectors in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Both practices contribute to increased nutrient loading in the bays surrounding the island. Increasing levels of nutrients in the system have resulted in sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) blooms, inducing anoxic events leading to poor shellfish growth and mortality. To overcome this problem, the present project proposes the use of an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) system to co-culture and harvest the sea lettuce. This solution would not only reduce the negative impacts of sea lettuce blooms, but also provide economic benefits to the province.

Ecosystem management – Prince Edward Island (Part II)

(Prof. Brian Leung, McGill School of Environment & Department of Biology)

This study takes place in the context of agricultural runoff negatively impacting water ecosystems on PEI. We explore the possibility that this problem has emerged from comprehensive system to integrate multiple stakeholder values and manage overlapping jurisdictions, as well as the lack of a support system for ecological management.

Le champ des possibles

(Prof. Renée Sieber, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

Urban nature is inherently complex, due to its unique convergence of human and non-human stakeholder activity. Our research project addresses this complexity by studying Le Champ des Possibles, a post-industrial green space in Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood. Considering our client’s joint goals of implementing on-site interventions and increasing the site’s pollinators, our research question became “How do various human stakeholder interventions at Le Champ impact entomophilous plant species?”. We hypothesize that an Interactive Referencing System (IRS) will help to answer this question, and aid in future management-related decision making at Le Champ des Possibles.

Improving sustainability performance at Thomson House using STARS

(Mr. George McCourt, Faculty Lecturer, McGill School of Environment)

Our research project has focused on identifying pathways for ongoing engagement between STH and the Thomson House community. To achieve this, we have identified community definitions of sustainability, located possible and effective lines of communication, and identified barriers and opportunities to project continuity. Our results were derived from responses of 315 surveys completed by members of the Thomson House community, and 15 interviews with PGSS executives, Thomson House staff, and local experts of sustainability. Our results helped describe community definitions of sustainability, Thomson House members’ sustainability initiative preferences, the reasoning behind these preferences, and their likelihood to participate in various sustainability projects.

Water resource management on downtown campus

(Mr. George McCourt, Faculty Lecturer, McGill School of Environment)

Our research objective was to develop a methodology that would allow us to determine semi-quantitatively how much water is consumed in a single building on campus without the use of meters. This approach consisted of two parts. We aimed to, first, apply this methodology to a single research and water-intensive building with better resolution than what currently exists, and second, validate this data by comparing with chemistry buildings at other universities that have concrete water consumption data. We chose to focus on quantifying water consumption in the McGill Chemistry Department, which is comprised of the Otto Maass and Pulp and Paper buildings. Though our initial objective was to quantify usage in a single building, research in the Chemistry Department is split between two buildings. Therefore, we adapted our objective and methodology to calculate water consumption for the whole Chemistry Department, over these two buildings.

Greening the Town of Hampstead

(Prof. Raja Sengupta, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

This research focuses on evaluating environmental performance within the town of Hampstead, based on the Siemens Green City Index. The town of Hampstead is a residential municipality on the island of Montreal. The Green City Index (GCI) is a framework encompassing nine categories including Carbon Dioxide, Energy, Land Use, Buildings, Transport, Water, Waste, Air and Environmental Governance. Each category is composed of two to five indicators, for an overall total of 31 indicators. The nine categories are weighted and summed for an overall score, which allows for a comparison between Hampstead and the 27 North American cities.

Energy wise dining service in McGill residence cafeterias

(Prof. Raja Sengupta, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

McGill Food and Dining Services (MFDS) have, over the past three years, progressed as a leader in sustainable practices at McGill University. In light of expectations for improvements in overall sustainable management, Executive Chef Oliver deVolpi has pushed for an assessment of energy efficiency at the Bishop Mountain Hall (BMH) and Royal Victoria College (RVC) cafeterias. This project aims to determine which technical and behavioural modifications should be made in the Royal Victoria College (RVC) and Bishop Mountain Hall (BMH) cafeterias in order to increase energy efficiency.