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Building Indigenous Research Capacity in a Changing Arctic Climate

Dr. Atkinson is the lead researcher for his Polar Regions Spatial and Environmental Analysis Lab (PolarSEAL). The scientific goals of this research program are to advance our understanding of how spatial analytical tools can model and predict the impacts of a changing Arctic climate on the Inuit community’s source water in terms of quantity and quality through the integration of terrestrial biophysical variables with ecohydrological principles. 

Arctic watershed scientists recognize the desperate need for process-based knowledge of terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem dynamics to better understand future trajectories in a changing Arctic.  Dr. Atkinson’s approach to Arctic research is a paradigm shift, with traditional academic mentorship and guidance toward community-based scientific questions, research, and analysis, in conjunction with developing Northern and Traditional highly qualified personnel to lead future Arctic research in the spirit of collaboration and reconciliation.  

Dr. Atkinson draws on the expertise and collaborative nature of Urban Water TMU to help in this mentorship approach to building Indigenous research capacity.  Dr. Atkinson brings together several researchers from different disciplines in research collaborations including Dr. Claire Oswald (Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability), Dr. Andrew Laursen (Dept Chemistry & Biology), Dr. Mehrab Mehrvar (Department of Chemical Engineering).  As well, Drs. Atkinson and Carolyn Johns (Department of Policy & Public Administration) are co-supervising a PhD Student in the Policy Studies Program to better understand how Inuit Knowledge is used to develop water policy in Nunavut.  

Dr. Atkinson’s current research includes:

  • Community Source Water and Sewage Lagoon monitoring – Baker Lake, Nunavut
  • Participatory Mapping for Community Source Water Protection – Pond Inlet, Nunavut
  • Building Community Water Research Capacity – Taloyoak, Nunavut
  • Remote Sensing of Water Quality in the Caribbean Sea (with Dr. Mehrab Mehrvar)