A vision to integrate interdisciplinary research on climate modelling

New TISED Chair brings expertise on Canadian Regional Climate Model to McGill

The endowed TISED Chair in Sustainable Engineering and Design has a critical role in advancing the goals and objectives of TISED through leadership in research, teaching and outreach. The Chair’s research expertise and interests also encourage collaboration with others at our university and beyond. It is therefore, with great pleasure, that TISED announces its first endowed Chair, Dr. Laxmi Sushama. 

Dr. Sushama is an Associate Professor at University of Quebec Montreal (UQAM) and holds a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Regional Climate Modelling (RCM). Prior to that, she has worked as a climate specialist on regional climatology and adaptation to climate change at Ouranos Consortium, Montreal. She was also a research associate and post-doctoral fellow in regional climate modelling with an emphasis on climate change and the regional hydrologic cycle at UQAM.  Before moving to Canada,she  was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of California, Los Angles. Dr. Sushama completed her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Sushama led the very first study to assess climate change impacts on Canadian water resources, based on high-resolution regional climate model simulations. This led to several other projects, including the NSERC-funded Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) project with Hydro-Quebec as industrial partner.

Expertise in Regional Climate Modelling (RCM)

Dr. Sushama's interest is in regional climate modelling, particularly the representation of land surface processes and land-climate interactions. Interactions between the atmosphere and the underlying surface are important and determine the evolution of many simulated near-surface variables.  Her research involves increasing the range and physical realism of surface processes represented in the high-resolution Canadian RCM. Dr. Sushama's group is involved in the development and adaptation of appropriate parameterizations to implement several important feedback processes in climate models. Feedbacks such as near-surface permafrost, lakes, rivers, wetlands, etc., are known to play important roles in high-latitude climates but are not represented adequately. Dr. Sushama's research is focused on Canada and the Arctic.

Policy implications for Advanced Land-Surface Modelling

Climate change, induced by the increased emission of greenhouse gases, is one of the greatest environmental threats today. These changes are being experienced particularly intensely in the Arctic. The primary tools used to study anticipated climate change are the Coupled Global Climate Models (CGCMs) and RCMs, and the transient climate-change simulations obtained when these models are run.

As Canada Researc Chair, Dr. Laxmi Sushama had one main research goal: to increase the range and physical realism of surface processes represented in the high-resolution Canadian RCM (CRCM). This will enable more accurate simulations of the surface/sub-surface climate over North America, including the Canadian Arctic. This includes permafrost, dynamic vegetation, lakes and rivers—all of which will be modelled directly within the CRCM. The system developed by Sushama will be applied in climate-change assessment studies and will contribute to providing a solid platform from which Canadian provincial and federal governments can develop strategies to adjust to and plan for future climate change.

Visions for TISED and McGill 

Dr. Sushama plans to set up a pole on climate change and sustainable engineering and design with a special emphasis on water resources/urban management and infrastructure at McGill with the support of TISED. She also hopes to facilitate climate change informed planning and design for all Engineering disciplines. 

Her proposed research program on climate change and sustainable engineering and design will follow three main streams. The first stream will assess climate change's impacts on the hydrologic cycle, at local, regional and global scales, using Regional Climate Model (RCM) and Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations. It will also assess water resources and related infrastructure and its management through sustainable approaches.

The second stream will attempt to understand the interplay between various land surface (hydrologic) processes and their climate interactions in urban and high-latitude to Arctic regions, using RCMs, and sustainable urban/high-latitude/Arctic infrastructure development.

The third stream extends climate change information to facilitate appropriate impact and adaptation studies related to varied engineering projects (e.g. applications in the design of transportation network, energy sector). 

 The proposed research program will seek sustainable engineering solutions and informed decision-making to adapt to the projected near-future (next 20 to 30 years) and far-future (50 to 100 years) changes.


Dr. Sushama's Selected  Research Projects:

Dr. Sushama's selected publications:

Chacon, A., L. Sushama and H. Beltrami, 2015. Biophysical impacts of land-use change over North America as simulated by the Canadian Regional climate model. Atmosphere.

Jeong, D.I., L. Sushama, G.T. Diro and M.N. Khaliq, 2015. Projected changes to winter temperature characteristics over Canada based on an RCM ensemble. Climate Dynamics. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-015-2906-5.

Ganji, A., L. Sushama, D. Verseghy and R. Harvey, 2015. On improving cold region hydrological processes in the Canadian Land Surface Scheme. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. DOI:10.1007/s00704-015-1618-4.

Alexandru A. and L. Sushama, 2015. Impact of land use change on climate projections over North America as simulated by the fifth generation Canadian Regional Climate Model. Climate Dynamics (accepted).

Jeong, D.I., L. Sushama, G.T. Diro, M.N. Khaliq, H. Beltrami and D. Caya, 2015. Projected changes to high temperature events for Canada based on a Regional Climate Model ensemble. Climate Dynamics. DOI:10.1007/s00382-015-2759-y.