Geography - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Exploring the reversibility of marine climate change impacts under CO2 removal from the atmosphere

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-11
Abstract: 

Artificial carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere, also referred to as “negative CO2 emissions”, has been proposed as a measure for mitigating climate change and restoring the climate system to a target level (e.g., 2 C) after overshoot. Previous studies have demonstrated that the changes in surface air temperature due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions can be reversed through negative CO2 emissions, while some oceanic properties, for example thermosteric sea level rise, show a delay in their response to net-negative emissions. This research aims to investigate the reversibility of changes in ocean conditions after the implementation of CDR on centennial timescales with a focus on ocean biogeochemical properties. We use RCP2.6 and its extension until year 2300 as the reference scenario and design a set of temperature and cumulative CO2 emissions “overshoot” scenarios based on other RCPs. The University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model (UVic ESCM), a climate model of intermediate complexity, is forced with these emission scenarios. We compare the response of select ocean variables (seawater temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen) in the overshoot scenarios to that in the reference scenario at the time the same amount of cumulative emissions is achieved. Our results suggest that the overshoot and subsequent return to a reference CO2 cumulative emissions level would leave substantial impacts on the marine environment. Although the changes in global mean sea surface variables (temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen) are largely reversible, global mean ocean temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH differ significantly from those in the reference scenario. Large ocean areas exhibit temperature increase as well as pH and dissolved oxygen decrease relative to the reference scenario without cumulative CO2 emissions overshoot. Furthermore, our results show that the higher the level of overshoot, the lower the reversibility of changes in the marine environment.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Karen Kohfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Generating 3D data, simulations, and geovisual interfaces for 21st century risk assessment and communication in multilevel space

Date created: 
2017-08-14
Abstract: 

Modern methods of spatial data capture, analysis and representation signify new opportunities for emergency managers to reduce the risk of and increase the resilience to natural and manmade hazards. This thesis explores the development of a progressive emergency management strategy in a complex institutional space, combining the spatial veracity of GIScience with an innovative approach for simulating and communicating emergency egress. The impact that spatial resolution and representation have on emergency evacuation calculations is examined in an analysis of 2D and 3D GIS based network analyses, and 3D game-engine based simulations. The implications of space are further examined in situated mixed reality simulations that enable the visual analysis of virtual evacuees in real-world spaces. Finally, this research introduces mixed reality geovisualizations of multilevel space as a method to communicate evacuation plans and increase locational cognizance. These interfaces challenge the status quo and encourage a 21st century approach to emergency management.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nicholas Hedley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Caribbean offshore medical schools and the international mobility of medical education

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-06-09
Abstract: 

Caribbean offshore medical schools are private, for-profit institutions that provide medical education to international students, including from the US and Canada, who intend to leave the region to practice medicine. Offshore medical schools are distinct from regional medical schools because they do not principally serve a local population. This offshoring industry contributes to the movement of health workers across international borders, and should considered alongside other global healthcare mobiltiies. This thesis uses three datasets to reveal the narratives that surround offshore medical schools. First, a content analysis of institutional websites shows how offshore medical schools promote themselves to prospective students. Second, a qualitative media analysis exposes dominant themes and ideologies that frame discussion of offshore medical schools, and the Canadians they graduate, in the Canadian print media. Finally, perceptions of offshore medical schools held by stakeholders involved with Canadian medical education and the physical workforce are revealed using qualitative interviews.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Valorie Crooks
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Regional-scale digital soil mapping in british columbia using legacy soil survey data and machine-learning techniques

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-19
Abstract: 

Digital soil mapping (DSM) is the intersection of geographical information systems (GIS), and (spatial) statistics and is a sub-discipline of soil science that has been increasingly relevant in helping to address emerging issues such as food production, climate change, land resource management, and the management of earth systems. Even with the need for digital soil information in the raster format, such information is limited for British Columbia (BC) where much of it is digitized from legacy soil survey maps with inherent spatial problems related to polygon boundaries; attribute specificity due to multi-component map units; and map scale where small-scale surveys have limited use in addressing local and regional needs. In spite of these issues, legacy soil survey data are still useful as sources of training data where machine-learning techniques may be used to extract soil-environmental relationships from a survey and a suite of digital environmental covariates. This dissertation describes a framework for developing training data from conventional soil survey maps and compares various machine-learning techniques for predicting the spatial patterns of qualitative soil data such as soil parent material and soil classes. Results of this research included maps of soil parent material, Great Groups, and Orders for the Lower Fraser Valley and a soil Great Group map for the Okanagan-Kamloops region at a 100 m spatial resolution. Key findings included (1) the recognition of Random Forest being the most effective machine-learner based on two model comparison studies; (2) the conclusion that model choice greatly impacted the accuracy of predictions; (3) the method for developing training data greatly impacted the accuracy through a comparison of four methods; and (4) that training data derived from soil survey maps were more effective in representing the feature space of various classes in comparison to using training data derived from soil pits. This study advances the understanding of model selection and training data development in DSM and may facilitate the future development of methodologies for provincial maps of BC.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Margaret Schmidt
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Four-dimensional geospatial approaches for modeling vertical urban growth

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-17
Abstract: 

Urban densification is a form of development that has been seen as more sustainable compared to urban sprawl, typical for North American cities. Urban modeling has been extensively researched and mostly focused on urban sprawl using methods based on raster geographic information system (GIS) data and for two spatial dimensions (2D). The objectives of this thesis are the 1) development of a spatial index for 3D urban compactness; 2) development of geosimulation approaches for modeling spatio-temporal dynamics of changes in 4D for vertical urban growth; and 3) implementation and evaluation of the proposed approaches using geospatial datasets for regional and municipal spatial scales for the Metro Vancouver Region. Several modeling scenarios have been created to represent 3D urban growth development over space and time. The obtained results indicate that the proposed 4D geospatial approaches have potential to be used in urban planning.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Suzana Dragicevic
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Did FSC certification add value in BC’s Central Coast?

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-01-20
Abstract: 

The Central Coast of BC, part of the larger Great Bear Rainforest (GBR), has seen decades of conflict as Environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), First Nations, community members and industry actors have collided over forest practices. This thesis evaluates whether Forest Stewardship Council Certification, a voluntary governance scheme enacted in 2009, has added value for these actors. Added value is conceptualized as a contribution to the goals or objectives of the organizations involved in FSC Certification and forest management. Added value is then situated in the context of a cross fertilization that occurred between government regulated Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) and FSC Certification. Empirically, information was obtained primarily from interviews with key stakeholders to understand organizational goals and how they relate to Central Coast governance and their interpretations of the role of certification. This thesis concludes that FSC Certification added non-economic value for Central Coast communities, First Nations and ENGOs through landscape level planning, performance based indicators and more comprehensive monitoring. Industry experienced subtracted economic value due to increased costs that did not result in any form of economic benefit.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alex Clapp
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Experiments on the morphological controls of velocity inversions in bedrock canyons

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-03
Abstract: 

A recent investigation of flow through bedrock canyons of the Fraser River revealed that plunging flows occur where the canyons are laterally constrained and have low width-to-depth ratios. An experimental investigation was undertaken to reproduce the plunging flow fields observed in the Fraser canyons and to explore the influence of morphological controls on the occurrence and relative strength of plunging flow in bedrock canyons. Observations show that the plunging flow structure can be produced by accelerating the flow at the canyon entrance either over submerged sills or through lateral constrictions at the top of a scour pool entrance slope. The occurrence and strength of plunging flow into a scour pool can be enhanced by sill height, amount of lateral constriction, pool entrance slope, discharge, and reduced width-to-depth ratio. Plunging flow greatly enhances the potential for incision to occur along the channel bed and is an extreme departure from the assumptions of steady, uniform flow in bedrock incision models, highlighting the need for improved formulations that account for fluid flow.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeremy Venditti
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

How people green the port: Sustainability in Canadian ports

Date created: 
2017-04-04
Abstract: 

Canadian Port Authorities (CPAs) annually move $162 billion in international trade and in recent years have been faced with significant pressures to become environmentally sustainable. In response, CPAs have introduced numerous greening strategies with important implications for the dock labour force. This thesis focuses on the greening strategies undertaken by CPAs and their interplay with dockworkers; it identifies these greening strategies and assesses their implications for dockworkers. The thesis adopts a two-part methodology. First, greening measures undertaken by CPAs are categorized and compared. Second, a case study of Vancouver’s port is undertaken through interviews with a broad set of port actors in order to examine the links between labour and sustainability in the port. It is concluded that greening strategies have been an important, albeit uneven trend across CPAs and that dockworkers play an influential role in the greening of the port.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Hall
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Modelling the climate response to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions: time-dependent processes, commitment, and reversibility

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-13
Abstract: 

This thesis gives insight into key aspects of the climate system response to anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. One characteristic is an approximately constant global mean surface air temperature (GMSAT) after cessation of emissions, but also changes in GMSAT to second order. Here it is shown that these second-order GMSAT changes are positive, i.e. there is a small committed warming from previous emissions, because the warming effect from declining ocean heat uptake dominates over the cooling effect from declining atmospheric CO2. The timing of zeroing emissions or the time horizon over which the warming commitment is calculated have minor effects on this warming commitment compared to the effect of the scenario prior to cessation of emissions. Another characteristic explored is the approximately constant ratio between GMSAT change and cumulative CO2 emissions (CE), referred to as Transient Climate Response to cumulative CO2 emissions (TCRE). It is shown that the TCRE diverges more strongly over time from a constant value under increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration than previously suggested. But it is approximately constant over time under constant CO2 concentration due to cancelling effects of changes in ocean heat and carbon uptake. Applying a wide range of sub-grid ocean mixing parameterizations does not change the temporal evolution of the TCRE significantly but leads to a wide range in the TCRE value. A third characteristic explored is irreversibility of sea level rise from thermal expansion (TSLR). It is shown here that TSLR under negative emissions does not return to pre-industrial levels for centuries after atmospheric CO2 has returned to pre-industrial concentrations. This result is robust against the choice of mixing parameter, although, generally an increased parameter leads to higher TSL rise and decline rates. The results presented in this thesis suggest that setting cumulative CO2 emission budgets in order to not exceed a certain warming target needs to be done with caution as the TCRE varies more strongly over time than previously shown and additional committed warming may lower allowable carbon budgets. Furthermore, TSLR is not linearly related to cumulative CO2 emissions and is slow to be reversed if net negative emissions are applied.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Towards a spatial imperative in public urban development geovisual analysis and communication

Date created: 
2016-11-28
Abstract: 

Despite advances in GIScience and geovisualization, public consultation for urban development often lack analytical depth or visualization methods that deliver transparent communication and democratic access. Typical methods for engaging the public include the use of architectural designs, artists’ renderings, engineering drawings, and physical models (Gill, Lange, Morgan, & Romano, 2013). These methods of urban development communication do little to accommodate portions of the population that are not design-oriented (Al-Kodmany, 1999). This thesis seeks to bridge the gap between GIScience, geovisualization, and urban development through the development of an evaluation framework for existing urban development visualizations. Next, it evaluates visualizations produced for a new development in the District of North Vancouver named “The Residences at Lynn Valley.” Following this evaluation, it proposes a set of visibility analyses that aim to reveal the intangible visual impact of future developments. This research provides the basis for future evaluative and analytical work in GIS and geovisualization for urban development.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nick Hedley
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.