Collaboration between McGill AOS and ECCC

Published: 16 December 2019

Excerpt from 'Metamorphosis of the solitary genius' Published on Nov 21 2019 on the CANADA'S INNOVATION LEADERS website (

'A natural collaborative connection exists between academic institutions and government research centres, whose scientific goals are aligned but not identical. Academics and students in McGill University’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences undertake exploratory research on emerging concepts that may or may not lead to deliverable innovations, an endeavor that is common to academic institutions worldwide.

The researchers at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) who have been tasked with developing the numerical modelling systems that underpin weather forecasts are more focused on scientific projects that promise to yield improvements in forecast quality. The differences in objectives between the McGill and ECCC teams are complementary and therefore enrich the outcomes of coordinated efforts between the groups.

Over the last decade, McGill and ECCC researchers have collaborated extensively on a broad range of topics within the natural sciences. Process studies, observational efforts and theoretical investigations have informed the development of new conceptual models of intense storms, analyses of the life cycles of potentially harmful pollutants, and investigations of the predictability of high-impact weather events across the country.'

Pictured in the article are Prof. John Gyakum and Dr. Ron McTaggart-Cowan PhD'03 who was a student of Prof. Gyakum.

 'Scientific interactions between McGill and ECCC form a continuous cycle in which research findings are incorporated into forecasting applications, which are thereafter evaluated through the lens of the original research objectives. This cyclic structure is unique because of the highly visible nature of the research outcomes in the form of forecast improvements. Collaborators evaluate these changes and propose new research projects to ensure that the cycle continues through basic research, operational implementation, and back to basic research. The most successful collaborative projects are those that recognize the mutual benefits that can be realized by this form of iterative scientific progress.'

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