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Inside WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto Photo: Tomasz Adamski FEBRUARY 2013 (l-r): Robert McLeman, Colin Robertson and Haydn Lawrence are inviting Canadians with a backyard rink to report skating conditions to provide data about the impact of climate change. Using backyard rinks to track climate change Laurier researchers ask Canadians to help document changes in winter weather By Sandra Muir From the Yukon to Newfoundland, and from Minnesota to Massachusetts, hundreds of North Americans have signed up their outdoor skating rinks as data sources for a Laurier research project on climate change. More than 450 outdoor skating rinks from across North America have been registered on www. since the website launched January 7. The website invites Canadians who maintain a backyard or neighbourhood rink to report skating conditions over the winter to provide valuable data about the impact of climate change. It is also seen as a way to help families connect with environmental research through an activity they enjoy. “We’re amazed the response we’ve had so far,” said Associate Professor Robert McLeman. “It shows just how passionate people are about their rinks. The more participants we have, the better the data we are able to gather.” The research project led by McLeman, Assistant Professor Colin Robertson and Master of Science student Haydn Lawrence from Laurier’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies has also garnered widespread English- and Frenchlanguage media attention including numerous CBC shows, CTV, and newspapers across Canada. U.S. Public Radio has also covered RinkWatch, and the U.S. National Science Teachers Association featured it as a science project of the week. “The backyard rink is a tradition, one that future generations may not get to experience because of the damaging effects of climate change,” said McLeman, who has fond memories of past winters skating on backyard rinks and the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. “If we want to skate on backyard rinks in the future, we have to find out what is going on today.” Increasing temperatures have made the headlines over the last few years. Environment Canada chose unusually warm tempera- tures from coast to coast in 2012 as Canada’s top weather story of the year. Senior climatologist David Philips said the period between January and November was the fourth warmest on record since 1948. The 2011-2012 winter was the third warmest on record, with national average temperatures 3.6 degrees Celsius above normal, according to an Environment Canada 2011 report. The warmest winter on record since nationwide records began in 1948 was in 2009-2010, with a national average temperature 4.1 degrees Celsius above normal. The Laurier researchers hope that the backyard-rink concept will not only generate valuable data about climate change, but also raise awareness about its impact. To become part of the study, people with a backyard or neighbourhood rink can visit www. to create a profile and add the location and name of their rink, which will show up on a Google map. Registered users, whose identities remain private, are asked to return to the site once a week to check off which days they were able to skate. The website will track the results and compare conditions across North America. The website also has a user forum, where rink enthusiasts can share rink-making tips, favourite stories, and photos of their rinks. Deborah MacLatchy named to Most Powerful Women list By Mallory O’Brien Deborah MacLatchy, vicepresident: academic and provost for Wilfrid Laurier University, has been named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women for 2012 in a Top 100 list compiled by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN). MacLatchy was honoured in the category for public-sector leaders. Nominees are assessed on four criteria: management role, vision and leadership, financial performance, and community service. “Deb is an inspiring leader 5 7 Best-selling authors Alissa York and Andrew Westoll visit Laurier’s campuses. David Johnson studies standardized test results and what they really mean. and a wonderful colleague,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Laurier. “She leads by example, and her commitment to student, staff and faculty success and excellence is exemplary. I value her contributions enormously.” This is the 10th year WXN has held the Canada’s Most Powerful Women event, which honours corporate directors and executives, entrepreneurs, and trailblazers. Past winners include Laurier alumna Heather Munroe-Blum, president and MacLatchy see page 4 8 A look inside Margaret Walton-Roberts’ graduate geography class.

February 2013 InsideLaurier

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