My area of research at the Watershed Science and Modelling Laboratory is quantitative hydrology and hydrogeology. I am working on building a high-level, comprehensive model of the Fox Creek area that illustrates the interplay between groundwater (GW) and surface water (SW). To accomplish this, I will be coupling two different models to create an interface that tracks the exchange between the SW and GW. To map GW, I am using Visual MODFLOW, a computer interface that uses the Finite-Difference equation to track flow. For the SW aspect, I will use SWAT (Soil Water Assessment Tool), which uses ArcGIS geographical data, as well as watershed, precipitation, evapotranspiration and other data associated with SW processes.
When this tool is complete, it will be used to gather data on the implications of hydraulic fracturing activities in oil and gas operations, as well as water use in agricultural and environmental procedures and the effects of climate change on these sectors. The completed model will be able to test scenarios to gauge the sustainability of pumping aquifers in and around the Fox Creek area, an especially important area for industry operations in the province.
The U of A is one of the best places to be with regards to groundwater and surface water research, with close ties to many industries across Alberta, and a very dedicated team with leaders in the science. As a master’s student, the resources for furthering my research are world class.