The Athabasca River Basin Research Institute (ARBRI) and the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) are proud to welcome Dr. Scott Ketcheson as our new Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Hydrological Sustainability.
Dr. Ketcheson's field-based research focusses on water and its availability for wetlands and streams in Alberta. Specifically, he is examining how water moves within and between forests, wetlands and streams. This research will help evaluate the sensitivity of ecosystems to natural and human disturbances, including wildfires, flooding and resource extraction.
To conduct this research, Dr. Ketcheson will be setting up a headwater research observatory within the Athabasca River Basin, using innovative technology to measure water flow and the many factors that affect it.
“I am excited to be able to establish a headwater catchment observatory in the lower Athabasca River Basin, which will be the first of its kind in the region,” says Dr. Ketcheson, “My team and I will be using both traditional hydrological techniques and innovative sensor networks to gain a direct process-based understanding of the hydrological function of headwater catchments.”
He has been conducting research in the Athabasca River Basin since 2011, and has made advances both in oil sands reclamation research and in understanding the hydrological functioning of wetland-dominated headwater catchments in northern Alberta.
“I am a hydrologist with a passion for peatlands. There are many current and pressing environmental challenges of great importance, many of which are directly relevant to the discipline of hydrology,” he says.
Dr. Ketcheson points to recent extreme wildfire and flooding events in Canada that have cost the economy billions of dollars. It is crucial that Canadians understand the susceptibility of watercourses and ecosystems to climate and human-induced changes, and to work toward achieving ecosystem sustainability through understanding of hydrological processes.
Dr. Ketcheson’s research also aims to improve mine reclamation and closure plans in northern Alberta’s oil sands region, where vast areas of the Western Boreal Plain have been disturbed by development. Efficient oil sands mine management and regional water monitoring programs require an understanding of water movement in constructed landscapes following mining.
Dr. Ketcheson’s most recent study, from December 2017, is entitled, The hydrological functioning of a constructed fen wetland watershed, with a focus on the landform-and-drainage system reconstruction required in mine reclamation, and the related hydrological implications on the regulation of wetland function and development.