GEOG UBC by dfsdf224s


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Escaping the Rainy Vancouver Winter for Snowy Research
By Chris Borstad
                                         I've heard that winters in Vancouver can be pretty wet and dreary—I'll take every-
                                                                                                                                                   GEOG                                                                             UBC
                                         one's word for it. I'm happy to have a winter field season that puts me in the snow                           The University of British Columbia - The Department of Geography
                                         instead of the rain. I have spent the past two winters at Rogers Pass in Glacier
                                         National Park, about 700 km east of Vancouver on the TransCanada Highway. In                                  Volume 3 - Issue 7                                                                                      March 2008
                                         this beautiful setting I escape the clammy, wet winter of Vancouver. My “field site”
                                         is most often a walk-in freezer, typically operating around -5o to -10oC. In this cold
                                         laboratory I perform carefully-controlled experiments to determine the fracture                   Geographers Go South
                                         properties of snow.
                                                                                                                                           By Graeme Wynn
                                         Specifically, I'm interested in the tensile fracture properties of snow slabs (a slab is          An exchange (partly imagined) at the Douglas (Peace Arch)
                                         a mass of snow that is cohesive due to the bonding between individual snow crys-                  Border crossing, 6 March 2008:
                                         tals). Using a specially-designed testing machine in the cold lab, I bend slender                 Where you heading? To a conference, in Bellingham.
                                         blocks of snow until they break. These tests are analogous to breaking a pencil in                What sort of a conference? An academic conference – for
                                         half—you grip both edges of the pencil, stick your thumbs in the middle, and bend it              geographers.
                                         until it snaps. My testing machine measures the amount of force required to break                 You a geographer? Yes.
                                         the sample as well as how much the snow bends before breaking. From this infor-                   Where is Damascus? Duly answered correctly (after reject-
                                          mation I can calculate the average stress in the sample when it fails, and equate                ing the possibility, fleetingly entertained, of responding; “I’m
"Chris and assistant Eirik Sharp study    that with the sample strength.
the snowpack near the site of a skier-                                                                                                     not sure, I’m still looking for the road there”).
triggered avalanche."              It turns out that concepts like stress and                                                              Who’s organizing this conference? The Western Division
                                   strength alone are inadequate for predicting or                                                         of the Canadian Association of Geographers.
understanding slab avalanches. The reason is that the strength is size-                                                                    Why are Canadian Geographers meeting in the United
dependent. Perhaps counterintuitively, it takes less stress to fracture a large                                                            States?
sample than a small one. Many materials exhibit similar size effects in fracture—                                                          Now that’s a good question. How to explain that the
concrete is a notable example. Scaled-down versions of concrete beams will                                                                 WDCAG exists to promote geographical study, teaching and
support larger stresses than the full-size versions that they represent. Failing to                                                        research in western Canada, that it has done so for a long
account for this size effect can lead to a catastrophic failure of the full-size ver-                                                      time (the 2008 meeting was the division’s 50th since the in-     This poster, produced by undergrads Nikki Theroux, Alex Burkholder

sion. In snow, accounting for the size effect is necessary to extrapolate labora-                                                          augural event convened at UBC by J. Lewis Robinson), and and Erik Blair, was among the work presented at the 2008 WDCAG
                                        tory-scale data to the slope scale.                                                                that its membership includes all those who belong to the
                                                                                                                                           CAG and live in Alberta and British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest
                                             I measure the size effect by breaking snow                                                    Territories, and Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Canadian eh!
                                             samples of different sizes, taken from the                                                    Let’s skip the detail and try: They hope to learn something.
                                             same location within the snowpack. The         "Chris observing a snow fracture test "
                                             samples all have the same rectangular                                                         Other stories were doubtless told, as large numbers of geographers, from Victoria,
                                             shape to avoid any shape-dependence in the results. The density, tempera-                     Nanaimo, Prince George, Edmonton, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Abbotsford (as well
                                             ture, hardness, and the size and shape of the snow crystals are all measured.                 as many places in between) attempted to convince Customs and Border Protection
                                             Snow samples are cut out of the snowpack using “cookie cutter” like boxes,                    officers from the US Department of Homeland Security of the purity of their pur-
                                             and samples are then transported to the cold laboratory nearby. On different                  pose, but this one was true as well as effective. Returning to Bellingham for the
                                             days, different layers within the snowpack are sampled in order to cover the                  second time since 1958, the WDCAG conference (well organized by Patrick Buck-
                                             range in snow properties observed in slab avalanches.                                         ley, Jason Levy and sometime UBC undergrad David Rossiter from the Environ-
                                                                                                                                           mental Studies department in Huxley College of the Environment, Western Wash-
                                   The most important outcome of measuring this size-dependence of snow                                    ington University) was a lively, broad-ranging and well-attended event. It began
                                    strength is that it allows the determination of different material properties of the                   with a day of field trips, followed by a keynote address by John Robinson of UBC,
“Snow fracture –up close!”
                                    snowpack that are independent of size. In other words, I measure one size-                             who spoke about “Making Sustainability Work: A Canadian Experience”. Saturday
                                    dependent property (strength) and from this information I can calculate differ-                                                                                                            Nikki, Alex and Erik after the presentation
                                                                                                                                           included the presentation of about 70 papers, the display of approximately 20 post-
ent, size-independent material properties. It is these size-independent properties (the fracture toughness and frac-                       ers and ample opportunities for discussion, interchange and learning among the approximately 200 participants who
ture energy) that govern avalanche release.                                                                                                ranged from undergraduate students to emeritus professors (among whom Olav Slaymaker was prominent).
Perhaps most notably, on days off I wake up in a national park with magnificent skiing right outside my door!                              Thanks to the considerable efforts of Eli Hayman and other members of the GSA executive, thirteen UBC under-
                                                                                                                                           graduates took part in the conference. Among them, Nikki Theroux, Ellen Bekkering, Erik Blair, and Alex Burkholder
                                                                                                                                           presented a thought-provoking and well-received poster drawn from their work on phytoremediation in Geog 450:
                                                                  The University of British Columbia                                       “From the Ground up: Greening Brownfields in our Community.” At the end of the conference, Graeme Wynn was
                                                                   The Department of Geography                                             presented with the William C. Wonders Award for scholarly achievement in geography, on the strength of a nomina-
  Check out GEOG @ UBC on the                                                                                                              tion by Greg Halseth and Gail Fondahl of UNBC. The 2009 meeting will be held at Malaspina College in Nanaimo in
  web:                  GEOG @ UBC would like to thank everyone who submitted pieces for the                       early March. Significant UBC participation, by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, would be warmly wel-
                                              newsletter. Please continue to support GEOG @ UBC by submitting your sto-                    comed and appreciated.
                                                                      ries and ideas to Katie Kinsley
GEOG                UBC                                                                                                                  Page 2   Volume 3, Issue 7                                                                                                            Page 3

Sabbatical Stories: In the beginning was the sabbatical…                                                                                                Featured Geographer: Brian Klinkenberg
                                             By Matthew Evenden
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Brian grew up just outside of Ottawa, Ontario. He attended school
                                             Many things that can’t normally happen because of the press of time happen on a                                                                            there and in Saudi Arabia before going on to U of T to do his under-
                                             sabbatical. Take my curiosity about word origins, for example. When in my early                                                                            grad in Survey Science. Geography, mapmaking, and geographic
                                             years at UBC did I have the time to look up the etymology of the word, sabbatical?                                                                         exploration have been in his family for centuries. “In Holland, early
                                             Never. It hadn’t crossed my mind. I was too busy. But in fall ’06, at the beginning of                                                                     Klinkenberg’s made maps as far back as the 1770’s.” Brian’s father
                                             a two part sabbatical leave, I did just that. Sabbatical year originally referred, I read                                                                  was a geodesist and Dominion Land Surveyor who “worked on the
                                             with interest, to “the seventh year, prescribed by the Mosaic law to be observed as                                                                        original survey for the Ontario/Manitoba border using mules and
                                             a ‘Sabbath’ in which the land was to remain untilled and all debtors and Israelitish                                                                       packhorses.” He also often brought his work tools home for his son
                                             slaves were to be released.” As I was launching into some projects on the environ-                                                                         to experiment with, inspiring Brian’s love of geography. Brian says,
                                             mental history of rivers, my eyes were next drawn to entry 1b which refers to a                                                                            “coming to Vancouver and UBC in 1987 was a natural extension of
                                             sabbatical river, “an imaginary river celebrated in Jewish legend, which was said to                                                                       my interests, who could resist Vancouver and the Pacific Coast,
                                             observe the Sabbath.” Research-related, you might ask? Leading to a paper? Part                                                                            with its varying terrain, high biodiversity, and the UBC geography
                                             of a book project? No, no and no, but interesting all the same. A sabbatical                                                                               department?”
                                             seemed like a time to do research, of course, but to let my curiosity wander too.
                                                                                                                                                        Among Brian’s noteworthy achievements are E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC, biogeographic atlases that are “a signifi-
                                             And it did. On the evidence of past sabbatical columns, it would appear that col-                          cant step towards an actual compilation of the biodiversity of BC.” The atlases function both as a public outreach
                                             leagues believe sabbaticals are the appropriate moment for globe-encircling voy-                           initiative and as critical platforms for research initiatives into species change over time. Brian also describes
                                             ages. I am thinking of Barnes on South Asia, Hermansen on France and Sundberg                              “working with a cohort of amazing graduate students ” as one of his top achievements. Brian has been involved in
                                             on the US-Mexico border. Before the newsletter made a re-appearance, I recall                              many interesting projects, “from looking at lions in the Serengeti to cougars on Vancouver Island and more.” He
                                             Wynn sending me sabbatical emails from internet cafes in Australia, New Zealand,                           says “the substantive area of my contribution has always been how geography influences these analyses, in particu-
This illustration is a remarkable piece of
wartime propaganda by Marian Mildred
                                             South Africa and England. I can present evidence which bucks this trend. A wan-                            lar how the spatial informs the world and lends insight to research questions.” His recent projects “demonstrate the
Scott. In “This is Our Strength” Scott’s     dering curiosity does not require a wandering person. Sabbaticals can also be                              integration of social and spatial geography.” His work on West Nile virus and Cryoptoccus gattii, a virulent fungal
strident pastels demonstrate a wartime       spent productively close to home ground.                                                                   pathogen that is spreading in the Lower Mainland, has influenced how the BC government dedicates resources to
imagination of rivers as resources-in-
                                   Of course, I did the usual darting around North America to conferences and re-
the-making. A masculine hand seeks to                                                                                                                   monitoring these potentially deadly diseases. Currently Brian is involved in a major project on the Serengeti explor-
                                   search meetings guiltily impressing my carbon footprint as I went, and I spent sev-
grasp the elemental power of the river,                                                                                                                 ing “human-ecosystem interactions in the hopes that we can find solutions (spatial solutions) for happy coexistence
while a transmission tower overlaying
                                   eral weeks at different archives in Ontario and Alberta. Most of the archival time,                                  between, humans and animals.” He is also interested in “the exploration of the reflexivity between geospatial tech-
the flow emphasizes more literally the
                                   reading and writing focused on my current project, Mobilizing Rivers, an environ-
mobilization of the river from cascading
                                                                                                                                                        nologies (GST’s) and social geography.”
white water to electric current.   mental history of hydro development in Canada during the Second World War. I
                                   had already plumbed the depths of archives in Quebec and British Columbia. Dur-                                      Reds Wolman Award goes to Nira Salant
ing the sabbatical, I did work in Calgary, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa tracking the course of wartime policies and
actions. Closer to home, I edited a special issue of the journal Environmental History, organized a conference on                                       If you are attending the upcoming AAG Annual Meeting in Boston, you can expect to see Nira
river history and helped to found the Canadian Water History Project, a subcluster of the Network in Canadian His-                                      Salant. She will be presenting her research concerning the influence of surface periphyton on
tory and Environment (have a look at: I also finished writing a co-                                           particle deposition and streambed hydraulics and accepting the Reds Wolman award that this
authored book on the Bow River with Christopher Armstrong and H.V. Nelles (we have yet to choose a title—any                                            research has garnered. This award, given by the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the Associa-
suggestions?) and organized the archival materials for my latest project. Now, with the momentum of the sabbatical                                      tion of American Geographers (AAG), is granted annually to two graduate students. The selection
still pushing me forward, I have begun to write Mobilizing Rivers.                                                                                      is based on two letters of recommendation and a research proposal. According to Scott Lecce, of
                                                                                                                                                        the Awards Committee of the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the AAG, the decision to select
                                                                                                                                                        Nira was “unanimous...we all were very impressed with the quality of [Nira’s] proposal. It was sim-
 AAAS Elects Michael Church to Fellowship                                                                                                               ply outstanding!” Nira will officially accept the award at the business meeting of the Geomorphol-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nira gazing lovingly at
                    In recognition of his "research in fluvial sediment transport, and major contributions in theoretical                               ogy Specialty Group on April 16th.                                                                    her growing diatoms.
                    geomorphology pertaining to stability thresholds governing interactions among form and process in
                    rivers,” Dr. Michael Church was elected to the Fellowship of the American Association for the Ad-                                   Upcoming Events: Geographers Raising Awareness
                    vancement of Science. According to the citation, a Fellow is an individual “whose efforts on behalf of
                                                                                                                                                        Students in GEOG 495, “Social and Environmental Change in Latin American,” are focusing this year on “The Poli-
                    the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.” This elec-
                                                                                                                                                        tics of Building North-South Solidarity” and are working in with BC CASA to raise awareness about the connection
                    tion is an indication of the great esteem in which Dr. Church is held by his peers. He was officially
                                                                                                                                                        between Canadians and Guatemala's Maya community through the actions of GoldCorp, a Vancouver-based mining
                    inducted at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston on February 16, 2008. Congratulations Dr. Church
                                                                                                                                                        company. You are invited to two educational events:
                    on yet another recognition in an already much celebrated career.
                                                                                                                                                        Friday March 28th - Sipakapa No Se Vende (Sipakapa is Not For Sale) 11:30- 2:30 p.m. SUB Rm 42T (basement)
PGSG Recognizes Sara Koopman                                                                                                                            This film documents the community consultation processes in which the townships of Sipakapa rejected the Cana-
                                                                                                                                                        dian mine’s operations. Café Justicia will be served/sold - bring your own mug if possible
The department extends its congratulations to another award winner: Sara Koopman. Sara has                                                              Friday April 4th - Dawn Paley, a Canadian journalist living in San Marcos will share information about the social
just been selected as the winner of the 2008 Political Geography Specialty Group (PGSG) Disser-                                                         and environmental impacts of the mining operations in Guatemala. The evening will also include information about
tation Enhancement Award for her dissertation proposal "Accompaniment and peacemaking in                                                                GoldCorp's activities based on research by GEOG 495, information about North-South solidarity groups, Guatema-
Colombia." The award, consisting of $800.00, is granted annually to a PhD student member of the                                                         lan style food and drinks, Guatemalan Fair Trade coffee sales, a salsa class, followed by music and dancing.
PGSG.                                                                                                                                                    7:00 p.m. St. James Church 303 East Cordova Street (entrance off Gore). Suggested donation: $5.00

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