Water and Ice Research Lab (WIRL)

Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Environmental research of the hydrosphere and cryosphere

Areas of expertise

Water in its liquid and solid phases is critically important to Canadian landscapes and ecosystems. Climate warming and resource development are modifying many aspects of the hydrological cycle, impacting water quantity/quality, and causing many fundamental changes to the cryosphere.  As these effects of climate change intensify, our understanding of the relevant physical processes must improve in order to provide managers with the best possible monitoring and modelling tools for sound environmental planning. Carleton’s Water and Ice Research Laboratory (WIRL) is a new cluster for research and student training that is focused on aquatic and cryospheric environments and climate change impacts in Canada. WIRL research activities and training opportunities will improve scientific understanding of key hydrologic processes, including runoff generation and terrestrial-aquatic interactions in complex terrain (P.I. M. Richardson) and ice-island composition, deterioration and drift (P.I. D. Mueller). WIRL researchers use a unique blend of field observation, laboratory analysis and geospatial computing, with particular expertise in the use of active and passive remote sensing approaches for multi-source data integration, spatial scaling and predictive environmental modelling.

Research services

Geospatial analysis/geocomputing, environmental modelling, stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, terrain modelling and remote sensing, land surface analysis with Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAV), multispectral imaging and analysis, structure from motion (SfM), environmental applications of multivariate statistics and machine learning, freshwater ecosystem monitoring, climate monitoring.

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Ocean industries
  • Transportation
Equipment Function
Multi-rotor aerial imaging platform Hex-rotor uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) with autopilot and six-channel multispectral camera for land surface imaging and 3D modelling
Los Gatos Liquid Water Isotope Analyzer Simultaneous oxygen and hydrogen stable isotopic measurements in water samples
Two (2) Ice Radar Ice-penetrating radar system Hand-towed systems that measure ice thickness on glaciers, ice shelves and ice islands
RBR XR-620-CTD A Conductivity-Temperature-Depth profiler
YSI Pro Plus A multi-parameter probe to measure water chemistry
Kovacs ice auger and coring system For drilling holes and sampling ice
Two (2) PowerEdge R720 server Computation and data storage
Teledyne Sentinel V100 Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) Profiles water currents
Campbell Scientific weather station Monitors energy balance/micrometeorology
Idronaut Ocean Seven 304 plus CTD A Conductivity-Temperature-Depth profiler with turbidity
Infinity EM meter AEM-USB current meter Measures water currents
RBR Maestro Freshwater profiling sonde Measures conductivity, temperature, depth and other water quality variables
Agilent Cary 60 UV-Vis Spectrophotometer Benchtop spectrophotometer used in laboratory to measure basic water quality parameters for environmental samples
  • Canadian Ice Service
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada