The University of Alberta has a reputation for excellence in both translational and discovery-driven research, scholarship, and creative activities, across diverse areas of impact in science, humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. This foundation extends to our professional schools, enables an undergraduate learning experience immersed in discovery and innovation, and creates opportunities for graduate and post-graduate impact across all fields of study.
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Energy is both a key strength and a strategic focus. We dominate energy-related research in Canada measured by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) funding, research capacity, research chairs and journal publications. We are leaders in energy-related infrastructure (pipelines, electric grid, rail transport, construction) and environmental impact. In journal publications alone, we rank in the top 10 globally in energy research and number one in oil sands. Many of our research discoveries/technologies are used in today’s energy and resource industries in Canada and around the world.
We have extensive strength in conventional and non-conventional energy development and distribution, environmental sustainability, economic analysis, market instruments and policy—all vital to understanding and mitigating climate change. Our researchers have pioneered many technologies used in today’s resource and environment industries—from Jacob Masliyah’s strategic research in bitumen recovery (which led to significant changes in existing plant equipment and new plant design) to David Schindler’s tying together the effects of acid rain, climate warming, oil sands extraction and stratospheric ozone depletion on freshwater ecosystems.
The University of Alberta’s group of energy-related researchers is the largest in Canada—211 energy related professors across 23 departments and 10 faculties, with nine major energy research centres and over $170M in industry and government investment. A leader in energy-related national research chairs (18 Industrial Research Chairs, 22 Canada Research Chairs and 2 Canada Excellence Research Chairs); we hold a similar national lead in energy journal publications and are amongst the best international energy institutions. While the core of such research is resource extraction, other key elements include responsible development with respect to the environment and climate change. UAlberta’s critical mass in energy has made us the hub of a provincial, national and increasingly international cluster of companies, government organizations and universities seeking collaborative energy-related solutions.
Climate Change Research
University of Alberta climate change research and teaching spans multiple faculties and includes basic and applied research, advancing scientific knowledge, developing and deploying new technologies and best practices. Our significant strength is supported by extensive capacity in engineering, material sciences, chemistry, nanoscience, natural sciences, molecular biology, social sciences (understanding the complex interplay of social, cultural, economic, legal and environmental factors). We use remote sensing, computing science, mathematics, ecology and earth sciences to assess and monitor global ice, biosphere and environmental and agricultural changes, and food and forestry productivity. Our expertise, capacity and advanced nanotech, information and communications technology, machine learning and ‘omics’ expertise and facilities enable climate change solutions and innovations.
Our work includes:
- mitigating energy supply/production issues (e.g., lowering energy required for hydrocarbon extraction).
- addressing industrial practices with huge climate change implications (e.g., flaring—world flares over 140 billion cubic meters of natural gas yearly).
- efficient energy use (e.g., next gen batteries) and lower hydrocarbon demand, fossil fuel alternatives (e.g., solar, geothermal, bio-mass).
- tackling climate change consequences we are already experiencing (e.g., drought, food security etc.).
- related climate change areas like smart transportation, smart grids, green/smart construction, socio-economics of energy transition).
Our climate change story and expertise centres largely on three key interrelated areas:
energy, the environment and agriculture/food. Our expertise in these, and other related
areas, is the foundation for many industry and international (Germany, China, France, India, Mexico) partnerships.