16 January 2006


Well having finished my M.A.Sc. I have now moved on to the University of Alberta to undertake my Ph.D. in conjunction with the National Institute of Nanotechnology. My life has been fairly hectic lately, hence my lack of recent posting. I am still waiting to get Internet access from my new apartment that I moved into this last weekend.

Edmonton is of course significantly different than Victoria. No longer is there a profusion of Smart cars and Prius taxi cabs on the streets. Due to the presence of coal power plants, the sky is truly dreary when overcast as all the particulates are captured by the inversion layers. Still it is remarkably dry and warm here for January. To me at least it appears to be an example of climate change on a local scale. The lack of snowfall means that the albedo, or surface reflectivity is much higher. After all, dirt absorbs more energy from the sun than snow, which tends to reflect light. As such, the temperature remains higher. This is a positive feedback cycle, as the higher temperatures discourage snowfall.

So why the reason for the lack of water? I haven't been able to look at the statistics yet but I strongly suspect that Alberta is consuming its fresh water reserves at a rate beyond its means. The three major consumers of water would be irrigation, secondary recovery of oil and gas reserves, and industrial use.

Water used for irrigation should largely be recycled in the local weather system. In strong contrast, the widescale oil and gas industry is pumping large volumes of water underground permanently. Similarly when water is consumed in industry it's usually in the form of steam. Superheated water vapour will rise in plume to a high altitude where it may be captured by the jet stream and carried to the East.

The question is, is the warmer winter(s) simply a statistical anomaly, or is
The key issue is how fast water vapour can diffuse from British Columbia to Alberta versus the destruction of local water supply. My suspicion is that only slowly over the course of decades has industrial development been able to make an impact on the local water supply.


Engineer-Poet said...

Wondered what had become of you.  Welcome back to the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should also talk about Victoria and how it disposes of it's raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and onto the beaches of Port Angeles. Spoken like a true British Columbian when it comes to Alberta. You might want to get your facts straight before showing your ignorance.