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Climate research nets honours for UTSC PhD students

Three students in UTSC’s Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences have scooped awards at a high-profile joint conference of American and Canadian geographers.

At the 2013 annual conference organized by the Ontario division of the Canadian Association of Geographers this October, both Jerry Jien and Yukari Hori won the doctoral essay contest, while Kinson Leung received second place for Best Research Poster Presentation. At last year’s competition Leung was the overall winner in the same category.

Jien’s work explores the influence of El-Nino-Southern Oscillation on tropical cyclone activity in the north-eastern Pacific basin. He says he was drawn to this topic because the basin is the most active in terms of seasonal tropical cyclone activity, yet the least studied. But there is a personal connection too.

“I grew up in Taiwan where tropical cyclones are usually known as typhoons once they reach a certain level of intensity,” he says, citing the example of typhoon Haiyan that recently hit The Philippines.

Hori presented her research into trends in the duration of the winter road season in the western James Bay region of northern Ontario. She studied how First Nations people cope with climate conditions, especially the use of ice roads.

Leung’s poster focused on the influence of synoptic weather conditions on extreme ground-level events in downtown Toronto and Windsor, Ontario. His aim was to discover if there is a specific air mass that drives extreme ground-level ozone taking place in both areas.

"The result was that there is a dry tropical air mass that comes from the United States through the air and hits Windsor first before arriving in Toronto," he says.

The annual conference is jointly organized by the Canadian Association of Geographers-Ontario Division (CAGONT) and the East Lakes Division of the Association of American Geographers (ELDAAG).

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