4905 Dufferin Street (Toronto, ON)

4905 Dufferin St.

© Environment Canada, 2008

The Environment Canada building at 4905 Dufferin Street in Toronto, Ontario has served as a focal point for meteorology and atmospheric science in Canada for more than 35 years. It currently houses staff from several areas of Environment Canada including the Science and Technology Branch, Meteorological Service Branch and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

This has been the home of a large portion of the Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate (ASTD) and its predecessors since 1971.  Currently, ASTD staff and laboratories engaged in research on air quality, climate change, meteorology and impacts and adaptation, and staff of the Science and Risk Assessment Directorate in atmospheric science assessment and integration are located here.  With more than 210 staff, ASTD has the largest staff complement in the building’s total population of approximately 800, including atmospheric physicists and chemists, meteorologists, statisticians, mathematicians, physical geographers, climatologists, science-policy experts and scientific support staff.  An important, co-located national research facility is the Andrew Thomson Laboratory for atmospheric chemistry (on the right in the picture above).

Proximity to researchers and facilities at several universities, federal and provincial laboratories and field facilities in southern Ontario has made this area a hub for atmospheric research in Canada.

Andrew Thomson Research Laboratories (Toronto, ON)

Andrew Thomson Research Laboratories

© Environment Canada, 2008

The Thomson Research Laboratory enables the Air Quality Research Division and the Climate Research Division to provide scientific input to a number of Environment Canada’s priority issues – smog, acid deposition, climate change, and air toxics/persistent organic pollutants. Work at the facility also supports EC programs such as the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda and the Chemical Management Plan, as well as national and international activities like Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's Northern Contaminants Program, the Montreal Protocol, International Polar Year, and the World Meteorological Organizations’ Global Atmosphere Watch Program.

The Thomson Research Laboratory at Downsview also serves as a home base connecting a number of field observatories, notably Alert, Bratt’s Lake, and the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments. There are thirteen research labs at the facility. Some of the facility’s unique and specific capacities include:

  • The Canadian Regional and Urban Investigation System for Environmental Research, a mobile air monitoring laboratory equipped with some of the most advanced air-quality measurement systems in the world.
  • The Brewer Data Management Centre collects and processes data collected from all of the Automated Brewer Ozone Spectrophotometers (referred to as the “Brewer”) located at 12 sites across Canada, including one on the roof of the Andrew Thomson facility. The Brewer instruments were developed and installed by Division staff and routinely collect and process data on total ozone and spectral UV irradiation which is used for ozone and UV index forecasting.
  • Greenhouse gas research laboratories support the Climate Research Division’s work by developing tools for the study and prediction of climate change to better understand, for example, how greenhouse gasses contribute to observed changes in temperature and how human activities influence arctic precipitation and in turn the Arctic environment.

Borden Forest Research Station (Borden, ON)

Borden Forestry Research Station

© Environment Canada, 2008

The Borden Forest Research Station was established in 1984 to conduct research on biosphere-atmosphere interactions. It is located 15 km northwest of the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments at Egbert, on the grounds of Canadian Forces Base Borden. The research infrastructure at the site comprises a 42 m instrumented scaffolding tower and associated trailers and huts to house gas analyzers, data loggers, and computing equipment.

The station has been and continues to be used for forest-atmosphere exchange and pollutant deposition projects. Recognizing the important role forests may play in climate change, a long-term measurement program was initiated in 1995 to collect a continuous time series of carbon dioxide and energy fluxes, along with more than a hundred ancillary micrometeorological variables.

Learn more about the Borden Forest Research Station.



Canada Centre for Inland Waters (Burlington, ON)

Canada Centre for Inland Waters

© Environment Canada, 2008

The Canada Centre for Inland Waters hosts staff from Environment Canada’s Water Science and Technology Directorate as well as members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and is Canada's largest freshwater research facility. Staff working at the centre include aquatic ecologists, hydrologists, toxicologists, physical geographers, modellers, limnologists, environmental chemists and research technicians. 

Some of the highlights of the Canada Centre for Inland Waters include:

  • A world-class ecotoxicological wetlab.
  • The world’s largest circulated flume, which is used in sediment transport studies.
  • Specialized water quality and aquatic ecosystem laboratories.
  • Great Lakes research vessels, operated in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • World-class equipment calibration facilities, essentially to conducting excellent research.

The National Laboratory for Environmental Testing at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters has fully accredited environmental analysis capability for a wide range of organic and inorganic chemicals, including a specialization in low level metals and the analysis of organic contaminants. In addition to laboratory research, work carried out at the National Laboratory for Environmental Testing involves engineering and technical operations, such as the planning and management of field sampling programs.

Some of the highlights of the laboratory facilities include:

  • The National Calibration Service tow carriage and test basin, which is Canada’s only national facility for calibrating water velocity meters and helps to ensure that Canada’s stream and river water quantity measurements are accurate.
  • The inorganic laboratory, where robotics are used in sample analyses.
  • Ultra trace laboratory for analysis of organics in surface waters.
  • Common user equipment pool for limnological research and monitoring programs.
  • Mechanical engineering facility for the fabrication and repair of field research equipment.
  • A fleet of Great Lakes research vessels, operated in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Limnos, which covers the Great Lakes carrying out limnological and environmental research, data, and sample collection.
  • Resources and staff to stage underwater diving and remotely operated vehicle operations.
  • Engineering services.
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Science, Canadian Hydrographic Services, and Fish Habitat Management.

Learn more about Environment Canada's Water Science and Technology Directorate.

Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments (Egbert, ON)

Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments

© Environment Canada, 2008

This research facility is a focal point for atmospheric research into air quality, climatology and meteorology. The Centre is located on agricultural land near the hamlet of Egbert, approximately 20 km southwest of Barrie. Opened in 1988, it is an integrated multidisciplinary facility designed to monitor the changing atmosphere and to serve as a testing site for new methods to measure air pollution, climate and weather conditions.

The Centre provides support for research activities both as an experimental site and as a staging facility to test and set up instrument packages for deployment to other remote field sites. In addition, it hosts many of Environment Canada’s air quality and weather measurement programs as well as those of other organizations and agencies. Research on atmospheric elements generates new knowledge and technologies to assist air quality, and guides monitoring to check the effectiveness of controls and regulations.  

The Centre comprises a main laboratory building and a secondary “Clean Air” building, situated 100 metres upwind, that contains a glass-sampling manifold and external sampling ports to the roof-top deck to measure ambient levels of particulate matter, acid deposition and toxic chemicals.

Fields surrounding the facilities provide ample space for meteorological and climatological measurements and the building roofs contain air quality and radiation instruments. Representative background air quality measurements and meteorological data are collected for air quality research projects including long-term network measurements, short-term research investigations, and instrument development and testing.

The facility is a test site to evaluate new instruments and measurement methods for national and international weather monitoring programs. Numerous short-term field studies use the site for in situ and remote sensing measurements, laboratory facilities and networks for data collection. The Centre is also a base for monitoring networks and is used to test new methods for measuring air pollutants.

Co-operative research is undertaken with other national governments, government departments and academic institutions including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture Canada, the universities of Guelph, McGill and York, and industrial experts such as Campbell Scientific.

Air Quality Monitoring Networks: Researchers and technicians oversee networks for monitoring atmospheric elements or pollutants collected from the air and precipitation (e.g., rain or snow).


Atmospheric research test instruments

© Environment Canada, 2008

  • Canadian Air & Precipitation Monitoring Network
  • Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network for the Great Lakes region
  • National Dry Deposition Network
  • Canadian Atmospheric Mercury Measurement Network
  • Canadian Sunphotometry Network
  • National Air Pollution Surveillance Network

Laser Radar Research (lidar) on Air Quality: Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) lasers measure the chemical composition and concentration of remote objects such as clouds or a plume. The lidar instrument at the Centre not only observes local pollution and smoke from forest fires but has also detected desert dust and smoke from forest fires from other continents.

King City Radar Station (King City, ON)

King City Radar Station

© Environment Canada, 2008

The King City weather radar station was formed in 1984. It is located north of Toronto along the Oak Ridges Moraine. It is a 16.45-ha site housing the weather radar research group of the Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Section of Science and Technology Branch. The C-band Doppler radar was modernized in 2004 to include dual polarization technology. The group is responsible for providing national leadership on radar meteorology research applications. In this context, the group conducts research into the application of weather radar for detection and short-term forecasting of high-impact weather events, quantitative precipitation estimation, and satellite validation.

National Wildlife Research Centre (Ottawa, ON)

National Wildlife Research Centre

© Environment Canada, 2008

The National Wildlife Research Centre is the focal point for Environment Canada’s knowledge and expertise for impacts of toxic substances on wild plants and animals, international migratory birds research and population surveys, and the health of wild species as an indication of environmental quality.

Some of the highlights of the facility include:

  • National Wildlife Specimen Bank which represents a unique collection, dating from the late 1960s, of over 12,000 wildlife specimens from around Canada used for retrospective temporal and spatial analyses of contaminants and their effects, including ecosystem (community) changes. This is critical to Canada’s wildlife conservation and ecosystem management.
  • Scientist retrieving samples from specimen bank

    © Environment Canada, 2008

  • Greenhouse and growth chamber facilities for state-of-the-art chemical testing and plant testing guidelines development.
  • National seabird, shorebird and songbird research and monitoring operations.
  • Accredited service and research laboratories for nanotoxicology, environmental chemistry and toxicology research, and State of the Environment monitoring, e.g., the development of toxicogenomics markers and methods to allow rapid pertinent toxicity assessment.
  • Trace metals laboratory workstation

    © Environment Canada, 2008

  • Geomatics and land scape ecology laboratory as a shared research facility with Carleton University, e.g., Space for Habitat uses remote sensing data to monitor and enforce habitat protection.




National Lab for Nowcasting and Remote Sensing Meteorology (Toronto, ON)

The National Laboratory for Nowcasting and Remote Sensing Meteorology was formed in 2004. The lab’s mission is to provide improved scientific understanding and prediction of high-impact weather, primarily focussing on application of remote sensing observing instruments and short-term weather forecasting techniques for predicting weather phenomena. The lab is co-located with the Environment Canada Storm Prediction Centre in Toronto. Outputs include applied research to address forecasting issues identified in the Department and facilitation of technology transfer of science results into the operational weather forecasting program.

S&T Laboratories, 335 River Road (Ottawa, ON)

S&T Laboratories, 335 River Road

© Environment Canada, 2008

The 335 River Road laboratory facility enables the Air Quality Research Division, the Wildlife Toxicology Division, the Emergencies, Operational Analytical Laboratories and Research Support Division, and Water S&T Directorate to provide scientific input in support of Environment Canada’s mandates and priorities such as the Chemical Management Plan, the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda, the Canadian Enviromental Protection Act 1999, and the Environmental Emergencies Program.

The following unique facilities/expertise are found at the Centre:

  • One of the leading oil spill research laboratories of its kind in the world, and the only scientific authority in Canada with expertise in spill treating agent subject matter. This lab also includes oil spill forensic (including of biogenic hydrocarbons), chemical spill research and development, scientific and field support teams for environmental emergency response, hazmat capability, leadership of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear, and Explosives Research and Technology Initiative Chemical Science Cluster and related security-related science activities, and remote sensing capabilities.
  • Testing facilities for vehicle/mobile/engine source emissions, which is one of only two facilities of its kind in North America. The lab has additional capacity for real-time on-road or in-field emission testing of light- and heavy-duty vehicles as well as for sophisticated stationary source sampling and measurement.
  • A specialized ultra-trace laboratory where Environment Canada experts measure the lowest concentrations possible of contaminants including dioxins, furans, PCBs, and other toxics.
  • A contaminant Level 2 Biosafety laboratory for soil toxicity research involving risk group 2 pathogens.
  • Specialized microwave and radio-frequency capacity and research laboratory that is leading the way in green technologies.
  • The EC headquarters for the operation of and air quality research and monitoring responsibilities for the federal/provincial National Air Pollution Surveillance Network.