Quantification of productivity, natural capital and ecosystem services provided by North America’s ecozones projected under climate change scenarios- AB-063

Project type: Research
Desired discipline(s): Computer science, Mathematical Sciences, Statistics / Actuarial sciences, Resources and environmental management, Natural Sciences, Economics, Social Sciences & Humanities
Company: RBC Royal Bank of Canada
Project Length: Longer than 1 year
Preferred start date: As soon as possible.
Language requirement: English
Location(s): Toronto and Edmonton, ON, Canada; Canada; Canada; Canada
No. of positions: 1
Desired education level: CollegeUndergraduate/BachelorMaster'sPhDPostdoctoral fellow
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About the company: 

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 86,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries.

Describe the project.: 

Overall Goal:

Explore and quantify the state and projected changes in productivity and ecosystem services of the various North American ecozones and land types in climate change scenarios. Ecosystem services that are of particular interest are carbon sequestration and water availability. Data integration of economic, remote sensing and meteorological data will be used to model current and spatial and temporal information and project changes into the future.


  • Determine the individual and combined underlying effects of meteorological climate variables on productivity and hydrological systems for subsequent use in gross primary productivity (GPP) and water availability quantification.
  • Assess the current value of ecosystem services, particularly carbon sequestration and water availability values. These values include the current actual value and the shadow price value based on policy and behavioural considerations.

Main goal of the project:

The final products include publications for knowledge transfer and an investment tool to track natural capital and ecosystem services changes at a high resolution across North America in different climate scenarios.

Main tasks to be performed by the candidate:

Econometric and Geographic Information System analysis of land use and cover change, ecosystem services, and natural capital under climate change. Spatial modelling will also be part of projecting that information into the future.

Methodology/techniques to be used:

  • Generalized economic modelling techniques
  • Land cover change analytics
  • GIS Analysis – Geostatistical analysis, interpolation, remote sensing and raster analysis
  • Data integration – integrating different remote sensing products, vector and raster data
  • Time-series analysis
  • InVEST ecosystem services model or associated ES program
  • R – programming or associated program

Required expertise/skills: 

***Please note that this position is only available with Prof. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa at the University of Alberta.

The candidate must know ARCGIS or QGIS, in addition to modeling skills using ecosystem service models such as INVEST will be considering a plus. Furthermore, the candidate should be proficient in computer programming, geospatial analytics, economic modelling.