Global Institute for Water Security

Colin Whitfield is currently investigating aquatic systems in southern Saskatchewan, including biogenic greenhouse gas emissions from Wascana Creek and dissolved organic carbon in Buffalo Pound Lake.  He has also been leading projects focusing on the biogeochemistry of boreal and taiga regions of Saskatchewan. The goal of these projects is to improve understanding of the current state of upland forests and headwater lakes, and to understand the dynamic responses of these systems to stressors including atmospheric pollution, climate change and landscape disturbance.  He is also involved in the GIWS BERMS group and through this work is applying a coupled biogeochemical-vegetation model to understand response of forest ecosystem response to climate and atmospheric deposition. 


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Watershed Ecosystems, Trent University
  • Master of Science in Watershed Ecosystems, Trent University
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (Co-operative Education), Simon Fraser University

Research Keywords

Catchment hydrochemistry; Ecosystem biogeochemistry; Climate change; Acidification; Mineral weathering; Biogenic greenhouse gas emissions; biogeochemical modelling; response to stressors


Selected Publications

Whitfield, C.J., A.C. Mowat, K. A. Scott & S.A. Watmough. In press. A modified approach for assessing the aquatic critical load of acid deposition in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. Atmos. Environ.

Whitfield, C.J. & S.A. Watmough. 2015. Acid deposition in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region: a policy perspective. Environ. Monit. Assess. 187:771 doi: 10.1007/s10661-015-4979-3

Ireson, A.M., A.G. Barr, J.F. Johnstone, S.D. Mamet, G. van der Kamp, C.J. Whitfield, N.L. Michel, R.L. North, C.J. Westbrook, C. DeBeer, K.P. Chun, A. Nazemi, and J. Sagin. 2015. The changing water cycle: the Boreal Plains ecozone of Western Canada. WIREs Water. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1098.

Whitfield, C.J., H.M. Baulch, K.P. Chun & C.J. Westbrook. 2015. Beaver-mediated methane emission: the effects of population growth in Eurasia and the Americas. Ambio, 44: 7–15. doi: 10.1007/s13280-014-0575-y.

Watmough, S.A., C.J. Whitfield & M.E. Fenn. 2014.  The importance of atmospheric base cation deposition for preventing soil acidification in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region of Canada. Sci. Tot. Environ., 493: 1–11. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.05.110.

Aherne, J., A. Burton, H. Scott, C.J. Whitfield & M. Wolniewicz. 2013. Influence of Transboundary Air Pollution on Acid-sensitive Ecosystems: Assessing the Influence of Transboundary Air Pollution on Acid-sensitive Lakes and Soils: Survey of Upland Acidic Systems (SUAS). Climate Change Research Programme Report 2007-CCRP-4.4.4b, Irish Environmental Protection Agency, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland. Pp. 68.

Whitfield, C.J. & C. Reid. 2013. Predicting surface area of coarse-textured soils: implications for weathering rates. Can. J. Soil Sci., 93: 621–630. doi: 10.4141/CJSS2012-00.

Whitfield, C.J. & S.A. Watmough. 2012. A regional approach for mineral soil weathering estimation and critical load assessment in boreal Saskatchewan, Canada. Sci. Tot. Environ., 437: 165–172. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.08.046

Whitfield, C.J., J. Aherne, & H.M. Baulch. 2011. Controls on greenhouse gas concentrations in polymictic headwater lakes in Ireland. Sci. Tot. Environ., 410: 217–225.

Current courses

ENVS 201 – Foundations of Sustainability