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

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The political ecology of the international white shark and scalloped hammerhead trade: the case of CITES

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-04-12
Supervisor(s): 
Rosemary Collard
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

The critically endangered scalloped hammerhead and vulnerable white shark are both listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), yet only the white shark is showing any population stabilization. This thesis draws on CITES trade data, expert interviews, and content analyses to explain these divergent outcomes and shed light on CITES’ strengths and weaknesses. I find that the scalloped hammerhead is a challenging species to manage because it is valuable commercially and for subsistence. My research affirms two themes in political ecology literature on CITES and species loss. First, CITES is limited in its ability to manage species traded from the Global South for various reasons, many of which stem from conditions of socio-economic inequality. Second, the scalloped hammerhead exemplifies a “tragedy of the commodity,” which is difficult for CITES to address given that its framework is built on the licensing of species commodification.

Document type: 
Thesis

Regulatory barriers to mine reclamation for caribou

File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-04-14
Supervisor(s): 
Rosemary-Claire Collard
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
Abstract: 

This project assesses mine reclamation regulations in the Peace River region of British Columbia, focusing on metallurgical coal mines within the range of endangered Central Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Caribou are facing precipitous decline as a result of the cumulative impacts of resource extraction, including mining and the lack of effective mine reclamation. This project seeks to understand what reclamation commitments were made at these mine sites; whether these are adequate for the protection and recovery of sensitive caribou habitat; whether they are being met through reclamation activities; and how these commitments are being evaded, if so. This understanding is underpinned by an analytical framework which assesses the role of the state at these mines through theories of legitimization; regulatory capture; accumulation; the racial state; and slow violence. I argue that the provenance of current mine reclamation regulations in BC is rooted in this province’s own origins as a mining jurisdiction and that today, the state facilitates reclamation failure through lax regulation, discretionary support, and regulatory capture. Additionally, I argue that mining companies use legal and financial tools to deliberately and systematically avoid even the most modest obligations required of them by BC’s reclamation regulations. This further imperils endangered caribou populations and perpetuates slow violence against both the land and the Indigenous peoples of Treaty 8. Finally, while noting the systemic failures of the existing regime, I make suggestions to strengthen reclamation regulations and improve accountability within the current framework.

Document type: 
Thesis

Investigating the dependence of the effectiveness of carbon dioxide removal on the amount and rate of removal

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-26
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

Most future climate scenarios consistent with the 1.5-2°C limits set by the Paris Agreement include carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as an important mitigation measure. Here, we investigate the land carbon cycle response to different magnitudes and rates of CDR using an Earth System Model of Intermediate Complexity. We show that the climate and carbon cycle response 100 years after the end of the removal is dependent on the magnitude of CDR and depends slightly on the rate of CDR. Several centuries after the end of the removal the response is largely rate independent at the global scale. At the regional scale, small land carbon differences of opposite sign persist between the tropics, , and northern mid and high latitudes several centuries after the end of the removal. The results of this thesis inform how CDR scenarios can be deployed most effectively with regard to drawing down atmospheric CO2 and mitigating warming.

Document type: 
Thesis

The nature and timing of postglacial valley fill incision, Fraser River, Big Bar to Watson Bar, British Columbia

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-28
Supervisor(s): 
Tracy Brennand
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

Since deglaciation, Fraser River through the southern British Columbia (BC) interior has undergone episodic aggradation and incision to create a series of distinct stepped terraces. This study employed optical dating to date different terrace levels in the Big Bar and Watson Bar reaches of Fraser River to calculate the rate of postglacial incision through glacial valley fill. This incision rate was developed to explore correlation of Fraser River incision with terrace-forming drivers such as climate, local base level change, and glacioisostatic adjustment. The oldest age in this study corresponds to the outburst flood of glacial Lake Fraser at 11.3 ± 1.5 ka, consistent with other independent ages for the event. From this event, Fraser River incised through ~180 m of glacial valley fill to reach its present-day level, where it now flows on bedrock. The average incision rate during the last ~11 ka was 15 mm/a, though this study speculates that during the last ~11 ka, Fraser River incision rates may have varied, roughly following postglacial climatic phases imprinted on the paraglacial cycle. For example, fast incision rates (30 m/a) were present through the cooler and wetter middle Holocene (7-4 ka) due to the reduction of upland paraglacial sedimentation and high flow power due to wetter conditions. Local aggradation resulted upstream of landslides and large paraglacial fans that temporarily increased local base level. Fraser River incised to bedrock sometime in the last 4 ka. This is the first detailed chronological study of postglacial Fraser River terraces.

Document type: 
Thesis

Financialization and development regime building in waterfront redevelopment in Chinese port cities under neoliberalism: A case study of Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-05
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Hall
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Post-industrial waterfront redevelopment refers to the transformation from the Keynesian-Fordist industrial landscape to the post-industrial service-based waterfront (Vormann, 2014). Neoliberal financial devolution has empowered local development coalitions to tap into local financial resources by leveraging private investment. Coalitions made up of city hall and private sector actors may be considered as urban development regimes that can utilize their institutional resources to make potent governing decisions (Stone, 1989).This research focuses on the financing of waterfront redevelopment projects in Chinese port cities under neoliberalism. The study examines Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre as an example of how such urban development coalitions function to promote waterfront redevelopment projects, and by extension, to understand how post-industrial waterfront redevelopment is pursued in Chinese port cities. In addition to the Sailing Centre, the relocation of Beihai Shipyard exemplifies how post-industrial waterfront redevelopment, in conjunction with the effect of gentrification, shapes the neoliberal urban landscape. The financing story of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre is explored as a case study of entrepreneurial urban redevelopment strategy, and this study uncovers the process to present how an urban development coalition extracts land value from entrepreneurial strategies amid the trend of neoliberalism. How the Chinese urban growth coalitions, made up of the local city halls and private developers, conduct city redevelopment projects in an entrepreneurial way via mobilizing market elements and land resources to avoid the conventional budget public financing has been missing in past literature. Hence, the discussion about the financing of the waterfront redevelopment projects in the second-tier Chinese port cities contributes to filling the literature gap of how the second-tier Chinese cities conduct great-mega projects through off-budget financial instruments.

Document type: 
Thesis

Social media and GIScience: Collection, analysis, and visualization of user-generated spatial data

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-06-21
Supervisor(s): 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

Over the last decade, social media platforms have eclipsed the height of popular culture and communication technology, which, in combination with widespread access to GIS-enabled hardware (i.e. mobile phones), has resulted in the continuous creation of massive amounts of user-generated spatial data. This thesis explores how social media data have been utilized in GIS research and provides a commentary on the impacts of this next iteration of technological change with respect to GIScience. First, the roots of GIS technology are traced to set the stage for the examination of social media as a technological catalyst for change in GIScience. Next, a scoping review is conducted to gather and synthesize a summary of methods used to collect, analyze, and visualize this data. Finally, a case study exploring the spatio-temporality of crowdfunding behaviours in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic is presented to demonstrate the utility of social media data in spatial research.

Document type: 
Thesis

Evaluating long short-term memory networks for modeling land cover change

File(s): 
Date created: 
2019-08-14
Supervisor(s): 
Suzana Dragicevic
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

Land cover change (LCC) can be viewed as dynamic complex systems which require relevant relationships to be encoded when represented within various modeling approaches. Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), specifically the Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) variant, belong to a category of Deep Learning (DL) approaches best suited for sequential and timeseries data analysis, thus suitable for representing LCC. The primary objective of this study is to examine the capacity and effectiveness of LSTM networks for forecasting LCC given varying geospatial input datasets with feature impurities. Using synthetic and MODIS land cover datasets for British Columbia, Canada, results demonstrate the sensitivity of LSTM models to varying geospatial input dataset characteristics. Geospatial datasets with finer temporal resolutions and increased timesteps yielded favourable results while coarser temporal resolutions and fewer timesteps were affiliated with less successful outcomes. This thesis research contributes to the advancement of automated, data-driven DL methodologies for forecasting LCC.

Document type: 
Thesis

Quantifying carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions

File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-07-09
Supervisor(s): 
Kirsten Zickfeld
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

Land and ocean carbon sinks play a major role in regulating atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate. However, their future efficiency depends on feedbacks in response to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate. Since negative CO2 emissions technologies (NETs) are a key mitigation measure in emission scenarios consistent with global climate targets, understanding carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions is essential. This thesis investigates carbon cycle feedbacks under positive and negative CO2 emissions using an Earth system model driven with idealized scenarios of increasing and decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Results suggest that carbon cycle feedbacks differ under positive and negative emissions, independently of the specific approach chosen for their quantification. The findings of this thesis provide insights into the approach best suited to quantify carbon cycle feedbacks under negative CO2 emissions, and into the role of these feedbacks in determining the effectiveness of NETs in reducing CO2 levels.

Document type: 
Thesis

Protecting privacy of semantic trajectory

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-06-29
Supervisor(s): 
Nadine Schuurman
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Abstract: 

The growing ubiquity of GPS-enabled devices in everyday life has made large-scale collection of trajectories feasible, providing ever-growing opportunities for human movement analysis. However, publishing this vulnerable data is accompanied by increasing concerns about individuals’ geoprivacy. This thesis has two objectives: (1) propose a privacy protection framework for semantic trajectories and (2) develop a Python toolbox in ArcGIS Pro environment for non-expert users to enable them to anonymize trajectory data. The former aims to prevent users’ re-identification when knowing the important locations or any random spatiotemporal points of users by swapping their important locations to new locations with the same semantics and unlinking the users from their trajectories. This is accomplished by converting GPS points into sequences of visited meaningful locations and moves and integrating several anonymization techniques. The second component of this thesis implements privacy protection in a way that even users without deep knowledge of anonymization and coding skills can anonymize their data by offering an all-in-one toolbox. By proposing and implementing this framework and toolbox, we hope that trajectory privacy is better protected in research.

Document type: 
Thesis

United States bank migrations and deposit dollar concentrations

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-06-21
Supervisor(s): 
Geoff Mann
Department: 
Environment: Department of Geography
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

This thesis incorporates four studies of the geography of bank offices and deposits in the United States (US). The research examines changes in retail bank branch proximity in neighborhoods, state banking law's role in motivating banks to relocate home offices, and the significance of tax avoidance driving deposits’ relocations. Chapter 1 introduces the framework and research questions that emerged from visually exploring geo-spatial banking data. Chapter 2 considers retail bank proximity changes in neighborhoods, classified by income, in urban Florida. It compares three pre- and post-financial crisis bank branch distributions: those merged with government assistance, those that merged unassisted, and those that did not merge. Did the branching decisions made by any of these bank groups disproportionately affect neighborhoods’ proximity to banks? Kruskal–Wallis and post hoc tests suggest that merged banks, which reduced total branches, did not disproportionately impact any neighborhood group. Statistically significant evidence suggests that unmerged banks, which increased total branches, disproportionately improved proximity to high-income areas, filling a spatial void created by closed offices of merged banks. The results suggest that banking regulators indirectly financed the rearrangement of banking offices, conflicting with federal policies aimed at maintaining bank offices near low-income neighborhoods. Chapter 3 examines the forces that drove a massive accumulation of deposits in Delaware and South Dakota, illuminating changes in banking regulation that lured banks from faraway places. Delaware and South Dakota broke longstanding public policy norms by creating bank-friendly regulation of three banking businesses: credit, insurance, and trusts, becoming a preferred legal “home office” for banks seeking regulatory relief. Chapter 4 traces the laws that helped induce Wall Street banks and other commercial firms to migrate to Utah. Utah expanded the scope of a historical anomaly in US banking regulation, the Industrial Loan Bank, which is exempt from longstanding regulatory norms separating banking from a non-banking business. The final chapter considers the lopsided share of deposits in Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota, and Utah after the flight of deposits from high-tax states. This research contributes to and suggests research possibilities on the oft-neglected subject of fiscal geography.

Document type: 
Thesis