Team explores solutions to extreme climate

Posted: February 5, 2015 1:00 p.m.

The U of R research team with collaborators from Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Alberta at a research site in Aconcagua, Argentina.
The U of R research team with collaborators from Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Alberta at a research site in Aconcagua, Argentina. Photo courtesy of Darrell Corkal

Researchers part of a University of Regina based project are seeking solutions to challenges posed by extreme climate affecting people who live in agricultural areas of the prairies and South America.

“All the communities (being studied) are rural and their economics are based on agriculture. Even though the crops differ, the farmers face similar problems such as droughts and excess water in other years,” says Dr. David Sauchyn, a professor of Geography and Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative researcher.  “Some people don’t realize that most of us in Saskatchewan, including residents of Regina and Moose Jaw, get our water from the Rocky Mountains. In South America it’s the Andes.”
The $2.5M research project is one of five funded by the International Development Research Centre and Tri-Councils (NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) to build capacity in Canada and developing countries to deal with changing climate conditions. The U of R based project involves researchers from Saskatchewan, Alberta, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Dr. Sauchyn is the co-director with Dr. Fernando Santibañez from the Universidad de Chile.

“The cooperation between Canada and various Latin American countries has contributed to enriching analysis models, adapting them to different social, economic and cultural contexts,” says Dr. Santibañez.

Extreme climate affects us all, but people in rural areas face special challenges here and in the Americas.

“In general these areas are more vulnerable than urban areas,” says Dr. Sauchyn. “People do not have access to the same level of government services such as in case of an emergency. They also depend on natural resources that are impacted by a changing climate.”

The study is taking a multidisciplinary approach.  It includes natural scientists and social scientists in all 5 countries who will spend 2015 integrating their research.  The scientists from the University of Regina include Drs. Polo Diaz and Amber Fletcher (Sociology and Social Studies), Margot Hurlbert (Justice Studies and Sociology), Dr. Greg Marchildon (Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy), Dr. Joe Piwowar (Geography and Environmental Studies), and Dr. Dena McMartin (Environmental Systems Engineering) and a group of graduate students and research assistants.

This style of teamwork is getting high praise from a recent issue of Nature Magazine.  It says credit should be given ‘to those who establish multidisciplinary projects’ and ‘who integrate natural sciences, social sciences and humanities from the outset.”
For updates on this research project please visit:

Excellence in Research is one of the pillars of the University of Regina’s Strategic Plan. The U of R recently achieved a top ranking for comprehensive research collaboration.  For that story please visit: