M.Sc. Opportunities in Northern Hydrometeorology

 (via AGU)
University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)
Prince George, BC, Canada
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


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The northern hydrometeorology group (http://web.unbc.ca/~sdery) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada is pleased to announce two openings for Masters of Science (M.Sc.) degrees starting in January 2020. Two separate thesis research projects are planned, as follows: 

Project 1: The Nechako River is the second largest tributary to the Fraser River and an important waterway for migrating and spawning salmon, the endangered white sturgeon, and many other aquatic species. Unlike other tributaries of the Fraser River, the Nechako River is highly regulated, with an interbasin diversion and flow regulation affecting downstream water conditions. Concurrently, rising air temperatures and precipitation changes affect water availability across the Nechako Reservoir and watershed. Thus the objective of this effort is to quantify the individual roles of flow regulation, climate variability and climate change on observed trends in discharge for the main stem Nechako and Fraser Rivers during the past six decades. This study will employ long term observed hydrometric records to assess the contribution of the interbasin diversion of water from the Nechako Reservoir to the Kemano Powerhouse on Nechako and Fraser River flows. Nechako Reservoir inflow data spanning 1955 to present will also be employed to naturalize the flows of the main stem Nechako River. Long-term trends will be assessed using the Mann-Kendall test, with comparisons between the naturalized and observed (regulated) flows along the main stem Nechako and Fraser Rivers. Comparisons to unregulated Nechako sub-basins (e.g. the Stellako, Nautley and Stuart River Basins) and others will also be performed to place the results in a regional context. Comparisons with streamflow trends in headwater basins relative to those further downstream will reveal if the importance of the basin’s water towers is changing over time. 

Project 2: Water management in the Nechako Reservoir not only affects downstream flows but also river water temperatures. This project’s main objective is to quantify the individual roles of flow regulation, climate variability and climate change on water temperature trends for the main stem Nechako River during the past six decades. A secondary goal is to augment the existing monitoring network of water temperature sensors across the Nechako basin to better capture spatio-temporal variability in water temperatures from headwater streams down to the main stem Nechako River near its confluence with the Fraser River for improved model simulations. This study will employ long-term observed daily air temperature and flow records as input to the Air2Stream water temperature model to simulate the 1950-2015 water temperatures at seven sites across the Nechako watershed. These will be selected based on the availability of water temperature observations to calibrate and validate the Air2Stream simulations. A series of sensitivity simulations will then be undertaken to assess the impact of flow regulation, climate variability and change on water temperatures. Naturalized streamflow records for the main stem Nechako River and the original air temperature data will be used to assess flow regulation impacts on water temperatures. Two simulations will follow using a detrended record of air temperatures to further assess the role of climate change. In a third set of simulations we will recursively use a climatology of air temperature and streamflow to assess the ‘equilibrium’ water temperatures of the Nechako River under naturalized and regulated conditions.

Application Process: We invite applications for two M.Sc. positions, with the preferred applicants having a comprehensive knowledge of cold regions hydrometeorology and climate, and excellent computational, FORTRAN programming, R statistical data analysis and communication skills. Applicants with experience implementing and calibrating numerical models will be given preference for Project 2. The students may also participate in field work related to the deployment of water temperature loggers across the Nechako watershed as well as in outreach activities in communities within the Nechako watershed. UNBC is committed to equity, diversity, and equal opportunity; we strongly encourage applications from women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities and the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Interested applicants are highly encouraged to contact Dr. Stephen Déry at with a cover letter highlighting research interests and experience relevant to this position, an up-to-date curriculum vitae, unofficial transcripts, and the names of at least two potential professional references. The deadline for submitting these documents is Friday 5 April 2019 (or until the positions are filled). When submitting electronically your application documents, please insert in the subject line “Application for MSc Opportunity in Northern Hydrometeorology – Project 1 or 2”, with the number referring to the projects stated above. The successful candidates will then be required to submit an application for entry to the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (NRES) graduate program at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) by 1 May 2019. The start date for the two M.Sc. positions is 6 January 2020. Applicants whose first language is not English may need to submit evidence of English language proficiency prior to admission. Subject to the availability of funds, the successful candidates will receive two years of financial support starting with the UNBC academic session in January 2020.