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Science and Technology into Action to Benefit Canadians

S&T into Action to Benefit Canadians tells the story of Environment Canada's success in generating tangible environmental, social and economic benefits. It demonstrates how S&T has influenced the environmental decision-making process by supporting a regulation, guideline, strategy, policy, program, initiative or management decision.

Research impact studies focussing on water issues can be found in the Water Science section of the website.

Index

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
CABIN: A Window on Canadian Water Quality2012

Sample of benthic invertebrates | Photo: © Environment CanadaIn the early 1990s, researchers realized that water biomonitoring efforts across Canada were patchy and poorly coordinated. The challenge was significant: Was it possible to develop a standardized sampling and monitoring system that would present an accurate picture of freshwater ecosystem health across the country and provide water scientists, managers and communities with a valuable tool for making informed decisions?

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Mountain Pine Beetle Controls: Reducing Unintended Harm to Forest Birds

The Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak has destroyed at least half of the commercial pines in British Columbia. | © British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource OperationsThe Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak is spreading across the Canadian boreal forest, threatening the balance of natural ecosystems and the stability of the forestry industry. Conventional pesticide treatments have been found to harm boreal birds and may exacerbate the problem. Natural resource managers need science-based deterrents that maintain ecological integrity.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Protecting Wetlands and Waterfowl in the Canadian Prairies2011

Aerial photograph of the Prairie pothole region. | © Blake Bartzen, Environment CanadaWetland alteration and degradation in the Canadian Prairies continues to pose risks to biodiversity and disrupt breeding habitat for wetland birds, reducing reproductive success and negatively affecting populations.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Developing New Tools to Monitor Canadian Inland Water Quality2011

True colour image from NASA's MODIS aquatic colour satellite sensor capturing the optical variability of the Great Lakes on September 10, 2004, with the turbid waters of Lake Erie, an offshore algal bloom on Lake Ontario and a Whiting event on Lake Michigan. Photo: Caren Binding, ECSustaining the quality of inland waters is vital to human and environmental health, and critical to the strength of Canada's resource-based economy. Environment Canada has maintained a ground-based network of monitoring stations since the early 1970s to keep informed on water quality status in Canada, but the picture provided by this monitoring approach is often incomplete.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Finding a Balance Between Agriculture and the Environment: The National Agri-Environmental Standards Initiative2010

Field researcher in action | Photo: Environment Canada Canadian farms are getting bigger and more productive to keep up with increasing competition and consumer demands. As this happens, it becomes essential to find a sustainable balance between agricultural productivity and environmental quality.  

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
RAISON Technology: Capturing Knowledge - Making Better Decisions2010

Model integration in the decision support system RAISON. Selection of pesticide data in a non-point source pollution model | Photo: Environment CanadaEnvironmental problems are complex. Often, they are multidisciplinary, bridging the physical, chemical and ecological sciences. Frequently they are multifaceted involving air, water, soil and biota. Although data and predictive models are readily available to support research on complex environmental issues, researchers can run into difficulty when using them.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
A New Approach to Pesticide Management: Finding Safer Alternatives in Response to Effects on Birds2010

Bald eagles scavenging on waterfowl | Photo: Environment CanadaThe Lower Fraser River Valley is the most productive agricultural area in British Columbia, and one of the most important wintering habitats in Canada for thousands of birds that forage in farm fields during migration. Farmers are under great pressure to stay competitive and productive in the intensive $700-million local agricultural industry, but they also need tools to maintain the ecological integrity of the land they rely on for their livelihood.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Environment Canada’s National Environmental Specimen Banks: Following a Chemical Trail from the Past2010

Herring gull eggs in a nest being collected for the National Wildlife Specimen Bank | Photo: Clive Hodder, Canadian Wildlife ServicePCBs and DDT are well-known examples of chemicals once used widely and released to the environment, then later discovered to pose serious risks to human and wildlife health. Although efforts to screen new compounds for potential risks have improved significantly, all possible effects of new substances cannot be predicted with complete certainty.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Protecting Canada's Boreal Forests and Northern Ecosystems: Developing Biological Methods to Assess and Preserve Canada’s Soil Environments of the North2009

Sampling of hydrocarbon impacted soils | Photo: EcoDynamics Consulting Ltd.Canada’s northern forests and ecosystems are sensitive environmental areas, rich in natural resources. How can Canadian science and technology meet the challenge to protect northern regions from soil contamination while promoting the sustainable development of northern resources?

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Microbial Source Tracking: New forensic approaches to identify sources of fecal pollution2008

Beach closure sign | Photo: Tom EdgeOutbreaks of waterborne disease pose threats to human health, while beach closures, boil water advisories, and shellfish closures cost Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Municipalities and other watershed managers need new science-based tools to help them target cleanup strategies more effectively to deal with fecal pollution and damage to ecosystems.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Science Solutions for Improved Pulp and Paper Mill Effluents2008

Ontario based kraft pulp and paper mill | Photo: M. HewittRegulations implemented in 1992 have led to significant improvements in the downstream impacts of pulp mills across Canada. These improvements have resulted in obvious environmental benefits to aquatic ecosystems. Yet, in spite of efforts to comply by the pulp and paper industry, monitoring under the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program has identified impacts on fish and benthic communities.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Ozone in a Changing Atmosphere - the Canadian Contribution2008

Brewer spectrophotometers used by atmospheric scientists for measuring ozone | Photo: Environment CanadaSwept up into the stratosphere, ozone-depleting substances can destroy the ozone layer, increasing UV radiation at the Earth's surface. Increased UV radiation heightens the risk of skin cancers and cataracts and weakens the immune system.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Mercury Must Come Down: Interdisciplinary Analyses Support Canada's Decisions on Reduction2008

Global Mercury Modelling: Computer models are a valuable tool for understanding and predicting mercury transport in the atmosphere | Credit: Dastoor and DavignonCanada's mercury emissions from industrial activities have dramatically declined over the last several decades. Yet existing mercury deposits in soil and water remain a problem and mercury continues to travel to Canada in the atmosphere from sources around the globe.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Predicting Severe Weather: Protecting Canadians2008

EC’s Gilbert Brunet with the supercomputer at the Canadian Meteorological Centre in Dorval | Photo: Guy Dansereau, ECProviding an accurate forecast several days in advance of a severe weather event is a daunting scientific challenge, but essential for effective preparation and response to protect Canadians.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Air Quality Forecasts: The Science-Behind-the-Scenes2008

Tree with smog in background | Photo:  photos.comSmog, the hazy noxious mix of air pollutants hanging over many communities in Canada, can contribute to heart and respiratory problems, sometimes leading to premature death.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Disposing of Dead Farm Animals: Using Science and Technology to Address Farmers’ Concerns2008

Source measurement analytical equipment in the field | Photo: ESTC, ECCanadian farmers need economically viable, environmentally safe solutions for disposing of dead farm animals to decrease transmission of infectious diseases in agriculture and reduce associated risks to the environment, and potentially to human health.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Eco-toxicogenomics: A Promising New Environmental Technology for Assessing Risk2008

Technician working in a lab | Photo: ESTC, ECToxic substances affect different species in different ways, making it difficult to predict which organisms will be most at risk from contaminants released to the environment.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Environmental Impacts of Terrorism: Tools and Technologies to Protect and Prevent2008

Staff at mobile sample-inspection facility | Photo:  Michele Meyer, DRDCTerrorist attacks bring immediate death and destruction. They also bring environmental pollution, immediate and long-term. How can Canadian science and technology meet the challenge to protect Canadian air, soil, water and wildlife from the environmental impacts of terrorism?

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Cleaning the Air in Canadian Cities2007

City buses  retrofitted to reduce polluting emissions | Photo: Jeremy BradyOne city bus can take 40 vehicles off the road, save 70,000 litres of fuel and keep 168 tonnes of pollutants out of the atmosphere each year.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Sediment Quality Index: Assessing Risks in the Aquatic Environment of the Great Lakes2007

Coast Guard ship, Limnos | Photo: RSB, Environment CanadaFinancial resources can be directed to sites where clean-up will provide maximum environmental benefit. When clean-up and restoration are complete, further benefits for the waterfront area will come.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Heat Alert System: Assessing Cumulative Impacts to Protect Vulnerable People2007

Man coping with extreme heat | Photo: Chris KostmanTogether, extreme heat and humidity can kill. Forewarning often means the difference between life and death for vulnerable people. Combining meteorological and health sciences and services has produced a tool to alert citizens at risk.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Diamondoids: New Tools to Solve Environmental Oil Spill Mysteries2007

Oil spills have a detrimental effect on marine wildlife | Photo: Jon StoneOil spills can kill fish, marine mammals and birds, and destroy plant life. Even small amounts can damage the ecological balance and cause long-term harm to aquatic ecosystems and wildlife.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
Protecting Canada’s Coasts: Using Laser Remote Sensing to Detect and Track Oil Spills2007

Scientists working with remote sensing equipment | Photo: Carl E. BrownOil pollution discharged from ships travelling off Canada's coasts causes the death of hundreds of thousands of seabirds every year.

Article Summary
Article TitleArticle Date
A Legacy of Pollutants in Nova Scotia: Assessing Risks, Taking Action2007

Scientists collecting samples | Photo: Michael Parsons, NRCanEarly results of recent studies suggest a high risk of adverse biological effects in the intertidal environment of Seal Harbour, Wine Harbour and Harrigan Cove.