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McMaster University

School of Geography & Earth Sciences News

Traffic Relief

Hold on, traffic relief is coming to Hamilton – in a year

The city expects to be able to control the lights at about 100 intersections from a central traffic centre a year from now. But Matthias Sweet, who studies traffic congestion at McMaster University, says a remotely controlled traffic system wouldn't entirely solve the traffic mess of the last few days. McMaster geography professor Darren Scott says generally, the city's road network is well-connected, but that stretch of the 403 where Friday's mudslide occurred is highly problematic. "There is no worse place to have this happen." More..More

Bike

Bike Library makes getting around campus a little easier

Books aren’t the only thing you can check out of Mills Library; bikes have just been added to the list.

McMaster University Library has partnered with Start the Cycle,* a McMaster student start-up initiative, to create the Mills Bike Library, a bike-lending service meant to provide students with equal access to sustainable transportation on campus. More..More

 

FloodNet

David Sweet: 'McMaster is at the forefront of so many innovations'

Coulibaly, a McMaster professor jointly appointed in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences and Department of Civil Engineering, will work with University of Guelph, Université Laval, University of Manitoba, Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, University of Saskatchewan, Trent University, University of Waterloo and University of Western to fill this gap by developing flood forecasting systems. More..More

Hamilton HouseHamilton housing market hot

Hamilton’s house prices are up more than 7 per cent over the past year, and bidding wars abound, even in the central core. Hamilton housing prices are on average 40 percent cheaper than in the GTA. But Richard Harris from McMaster University says don’t be surprised if homes around the core are priced higher than you expected. Richard Harris, Geography Professor, McMaster University: “The area in and around the downtown, the residential properties in and around the downtown have seen believe it or not the highest rate of increase in prices of any neighbourhood or area in Hamilton.” More..More

Susan Cunningham

Leading alumna to speak about being a woman in the oil patch.

Business executive and philanthropist Susan Cunningham will kick off a new lecture series Nov. 6 with her talk “Leadership and the Oil Patch: How I Got There and What is Needed.”

In 2010 Cunningham made a $1-million gift to McMaster to establish the Susan Cunningham Research Chair in Geology. Janok Bhattacharya, who received his PhD from McMaster in 1989, is the current chair holder. More..More
Chris Higgins

Chris Higgins Sets the Record Straight on Cable 14's Trending

Chris Higgins Sets the Record Straight on Cable 14's Trending, the inaugural episode of Cable 14's new current affairs program. The topic for this episode was Hamilton's rapid transit debate: light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT) and the ongoing confusion over technologies, routes, funding and viability. The program featured Chris Higgins, McMaster PhD student in geography and the lead author of a few reports on LRT in Hamilton More..More
LRT

Mac study: LRT no magic bullet

Hamiltonians should tone down their expectations about the city-building powers of LRT, according to the co-author of a new study by McMaster University researchers.

PhD student Chris Higgins, the study's lead hand, says there's been "a bit of an oversell" in positioning the project as a catalyst for economic development. More..More

Kennewick ManWhy was the Kennewick Man such a seafood lover?

From the moment the Kennewick Man was discovered along the banks of Washington’s Columbia River, nearly 20 years ago, the prehistoric remains have been the subject of both fascination and controversy. Scientists from around the world, including McMaster’s Henry Schwarcz, have studied the skeleton, piece by piece. More..More

 

ESRIESRI selects McMaster as GIS Centre of Excellence

ESRI Canada has selected McMaster University’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences (SGES) as a Centre of Excellence in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

SGES has a long history of teaching and research using the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) suite of products. McMaster was one of the first universities in Canada to sign an annual license agreement with the Institute, was the first Canadian university to collaborate with a college to offer a certificate in GIS, and was the first Canadian university to earn the designation of ESRIsri More..More

 

Cootes

Waste not, want not: Students examine how we use and abuse fresh water

For those who like to begin their day with a piping-hot shower, adding a few extra minutes can seem like a harmless indulgence.

Unfortunately, the cost of relaxation is high. According to new research from a team of McMaster students, the average household in Hamilton spends roughly $1,200 per year on costs related to regular 10-minute showers. More..More

 

Special delivery

Special delivery

A high-tech piece of machinery in Hamilton may help researchers understand why a young girl fell to her death in a Mexican cave some 13,000 years ago.

The x-ray fluorescence machine, recently installed in Ed Reinhardt’s lab, analyzes more core samples at a much faster rate – and a much higher resolution – than was previously possible. More..More

 

Eric Windhorst

Natural approach to health care

Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark will benefit our overall well-being by Eric Windhorst. Health care is costing Ontarians a fortune. A 2013 study by the not-for-profit C.D. Howe Institute states that 50 cents of every dollar spent on provincial programming is allocated to the health-care sector. And projections suggest our dire financial situation will not be getting better any time soon. TD Economics estimates that, by the year 2030, health-care costs could eat up 80 cents of every dollar allotted to provincial programs. More...More

 

John MaclachlanPresident’s Award winner says best classrooms are in caves

A week in Iceland, a week in the classroom, a week in Kentucky, a week in the classroom.

For John Maclachlan, that’s an ideal month of teaching – and not for the reasons you might think. “Students relate to what is practical around them, so I get them out there to see it,” he says. “It’s not a vacation for them, it’s a learning experience.” More...More

Crimea

Grim discovery sheds new light on when humans came to the Americas

“This is a bonanza find,” said Eduard Reinhardt, a micropaleontologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “The quality of the data that we’re getting is exceptional.”

An experienced diver, Dr. Reinhardt is one of the scientists directly involved in examining the site where the Naia skeleton was first discovered in 2007.
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Crimea

The mapmaker's dilemma: How do you solve a problem like Crimea?

Most of the time, maps help you get from point A to point B. But when it comes to geopolitics, maps have long been used as much more than way finders.

“Changing the maps makes things seem official,” says geographer Walter Peace, McMaster’s map expert. “It’s also a way of promoting what you’ve done. More people will see the changes, and more people will accept this new, ‘official’ version.”
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meteoritesRare meteorites offer new clues about mysterious Red Planet

Geography & Earth Sciences professor Sang-Tae Kim has never been to Mars, but Mars has come to him.

Kim and a team of international researchers from the University of Maryland, NASA and several other institutions had the rare opportunity to study Martian meteorites — precious extraterrestrial materials of which there are only a few dozen here on Earth. More...More

 

Climate Change

Experts quiet climate-change skeptics: Warming leads to longer cold snaps

Climate-change skeptics -- and everyone else in Canada -- had better bundle up. Research shows extended cold snaps like we’ve seen this winter could be a direct result of climate change. “When people see one month of extreme cold, they say ‘What happened to global warming?’” said Arain, a professor in McMaster University’s School of Geography and Earth Sciences. “But if you look globally, it’s -23 C in our region, but in Australia, in Europe the temperatures are much warmer than usual.” More...More

3MT AwardsMacSMS puts local weather in the palm of your hand

Want to know the exact temperature in Faculty Hollow before you even set foot on campus? Just send a text.

A trio of McMaster engineering students have created a brand new messaging service, MacSMS, that offers real-time weather updates generated by the McMaster Weather Station. More...More

 

3MT Awards

Michelle Reid crowned McMaster 3MT champion

Graduate student Michelle Reid will be representing McMaster at the upcoming Ontario Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in April.

Reid, an Environmental & Earth Science student, took the top prize for her presentation on wetlands reclamation in the Alberta oil sands, besting a diverse field of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from all faculties. More...More

 

For Rent

Why Canada’s cult of home ownership is in trouble.

Despite all the financial obstacles they face, young adults have been eager believers in home ownership. Now, they’re thinking more critically about houses.

That’s the sense you get from the twentysomethings in Richard Harris’s fourth-year urban housing class in the geography program at McMaster University in Hamilton. For the second year in a row, Prof. Harris has given his students a fall assignment to construct an argument for either buying a home or renting.“Last year, in a class of 29 students, a clear majority said they would buy,” Prof. Harris wrote me in an e-mail.More...More

Ice Storm

$3.7M to fund research partnerships and leading-edge facilities

McMaster is starting off 2014 with good news from both the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Nineteen researchers from five faculties are leading projects and research programs awarded funding boosts from the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund and NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants (SPG). One of the NSERC-funded grants – led by Altaf Arain, director of the McMaster Centre for Climate Change – is particularly timely, given the latest wallop of weather and the resulting severe damage to tree canopies across the country. More...More

Kellly Biagi

Mac student returns from Antarctic expedition

Hamilton's chilly temperatures are nothing to Kelly Biagi, who has just returned from a 10-day expedition through Antarctica.

The 23-year-old McMaster student was one of a handful of master's students aboard the Students on Ice ship. When she spoke to The Spectator from the vessel on Sunday, Jan. 5, they were travelling through the Drake Passage.

"It's pretty cold," she laughed at the time. "We spent a lot of the days outside, and I had at least three pairs of pants on and six layers on top plus a down coat and a raincoat." Still, she said the experience has been life-changing. . More...More

CaveSumatra coastal cave records stunning tsunami history

A cave on the northwestern coast of Sumatra holds a remarkable record of big tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.The limestone opening, close to Banda Aceh, retains the sandy deposits washed ashore by huge, earthquake-induced waves over thousands of years. Scientists are using the site to help determine the frequency of catastrophes like the event of 26 December 2004.

This is being done by dating the cave's tsunami-borne sediments, which are easy to see between layers of bat droppings. "The tsunami sands just jump right out at you because they're separated by guano layers. There's no confusing the stratigraphy (layering)," explains Dr Jessica Pilarczyk. More...More

 

Moon pictureChina takes aim at moon in landmark lunar mission

For the first time in nearly 40 years, a man-made rover is en route to the moon.
On Monday, China launched the ambitious Chang'e-3 exploration mission — a first for the country's space program, and a key piece of the overall Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. The lander spacecraft and its on-board rover, known as "Jade Rabbit," will touch down on the moon Dec. 16. 
Li He, a PhD candidate and lunar researcher in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences, sheds some light on the Chang'e-3 Moon mission, and what it means for the future of the space race: More...More

Image placeholderMcMaster receives more than $24M in major
partnerships with the federal government, Chrysler and industry

The University has entered into major partnerships with Chrysler, the federal government and other auto industry leaders, to develop energy-efficient, high-performance electrified and lighter weight vehicles.

The $24-million partnership includes federal funding for several McMaster projects through Automotive Partnership Canada (APC). More...More

 

Geographer honoured by 'the people who know my work best'

Image placeholderRichard Harris, a professor in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences, has been awarded the Canadian Association of Geographers' Award for Scholarly Distinction in Geography.

“This is meaningful because I am being recognized by my peers,” said Harris. “These are the people who know my work best, so it really is an honour.”

To know Harris’ work is to be familiar with nearly three decades of work. He has published six books, nearly 100 peer reviewed articles and more than 150 book reviews.

Harris has also received Fulbright, Guggenheim and Canada Research fellowships and was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. More...More

Image placeholderHelp put climate change on the map

What are you doing to help mitigate climate change? Have you noticed the impacts of our changing climate?

The McMaster Centre for Climate Change has created a website where you can share the actions you are taking and the impacts you notice.  Submissions will appear on interactive maps and you may find out about interesting projects that you never knew existed. 

Connect with your community and help put climate change on the map — www.mapclimatechange.ca.

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Billion-year-old water could hold clues to life on Earth, Mars

A team of Canadian and UK researchers has discovered what may be some of the oldest pockets of water on the planet – and they may contain life.

The team, which included McMaster’s Greg Slater, analyzed water pouring out of boreholes in a mine nearly 2.5 km below the ground in Timmins, located in northern Ontario.

Their findings, published May 15 in the journal Nature, could force us to rethink which parts of Earth are fit for life.

The researchers used isotopes of helium, neon, argon and xenon to demonstrate that the water was isolated deep beneath the Earth for an average of 1.5 billion years and possibly up to 2.6 billion years, making it some of the oldest water ever observed. More...More

Image placeholderNew research chairs to put gender differences under the microscope

Two McMaster researchers are probing the links between gender, work and health.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has awarded Chairs to Allison Williams and Joy MacDermid, who will explore gender issues from very different perspectives.

Williams, an associate professor in geography and earth sciences and Chair in Gender, Work and Health – Implementation Systems, will investigate how workplaces can better accommodate employees who act as caregivers at home. More...More

 

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