Climate, Oceans, and Paleo-Environments (COPE)


The Climate, Oceans, and Paleo-Environments (COPE) Laboratory is part of the graduate program in the School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) at Simon Fraser University (SFU), located in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.  The overall objective for our lab is to understand changes in the earth system on geological and historical time scales.  Another goal is to relate these changes to regionally important impacts, ranging from carbon cycling to extreme weather events and regional ecosystem responses.  Our interdisciplinary group integrates ideas from climatology, meteorology, paleo-oceanography, paleo-ecology, Earth System Science and modeling, and geochemistry.  The lab is led by Dr. Karen E. Kohfeld. We meet weekly to discuss our research and relevant scientific literature.

Graduate Research

Graduate students in REM can obtain Master’s or Ph.D. degrees.  In our lab, student research is focused on climate change, the carbon cycle, or regional impacts of climate change. All students take a series of interdisciplinary courses in the natural and social sciences, including earth system science and global change for environmental managers, ecology, resource policy, and resource economics, along with electives that suit their particular interests such as statistics, chemical oceanography, and climatology, within or outside of REM. They conduct a master’s project or a Ph.D. thesis.

My General Guidelines for Graduate Student/Supervisor Relationship Expectations can be found here.


13 September 2016: Well done, Aimee McGowan who presented her research via webcast before the Ministers of Environment of Canada, US, and Mexico at the 23rd Regular Session of the CEC Council and Meetings of the Joint Public Advisory Committee in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.  Her presentation can be found here.

6 September 2016: More news coverage of our Nature Climate Change paper on observations of climate change in subsistence communities around the world here.  Congrats to co-authors Valentina Savo (Hakai Institute), Dana Lepofsky (SFU Archaeology), Ken Lertzman (SFU REM), Jordan Brenner (SFU REM), Joe Bailey (SFU REM COPE), and Karen Kohfeld (SFU REM COPE lab).

9 August 2016: Collaborators of our SFU Blue Carbon team, Marlow Pellatt and Jennifer Yakimishyn, were recently featured in the the Vancouver Sun.  Learn more about our SFU blue carbon project through our instagram, twitter, and facebook pages.

10 May 2016: COPE lab welcomes three new students who will join the REM MRM program in Fall, 2016: A warm welcome to Maija Gailis, Ben Hudson, and Willem Peters!

1 May 2016: Dr. Kohfeld’s recent research grants and excellent grad student team were highlighted on the Faculty of Environment News.

28 April 2016: Curious about the effect of laptops in the classroom?  Come to this discussion featuring a study conducted in my REM 370 Global Ocean Resources course on Monday May 16, 2016, with the help of COPE Lab student Aimee McGowan (SNACKS PROVIDED):

17 February 2016: Congratulations to Sinead Murphy on the successful defense of her masters!  Sinead is now working for the District of North Vancouver and plans to submit her project for publication imminently!

24 November 2015: The Integrated-Coastal Acidification Project (I-CAP) (led by Karen Kohfeld and funded by MEOPAR, was recently highlighted in the news for the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada.

25 September 2015: “New research explores ocean acidifications’ impact on fisheries and coasts” The Navigator Magazine

24 August 2015: Tune in to hear Ben Cross’s interview on the Jill Bennett Show this past Saturday.  Well done, Ben!

20 August 2015: Congratulations to Ben Cross (and his coauthors: Karen Kohfeld, Joe Bailey, and Andy Cooper for coverage of their work on wind farm placement in the Vancouver Sun.

7 May 2015: We’d like to welcome three new students, Aimee McGowan (Trinity Western University), Victoria Postlethwaite (Acadia University), and Ellie Simpson (University of Reading) to the COPE lab!  Aimee, Victoria and Ellie will join the program in September, 2015.

15 December 2014: Christie Spry’s recent paper (Spry et al., 2014) on Pineapple Express storms was highlighted in a radio interview I did with CFAX radio 1070 Cafe Victoria on December 11, 2014, and in the Vancouver Sun on December 12.

29 October 2014: Congratulations to COPE lab member Sinead Murphy who won best presentation in the Environmental and Engineering Geology Division Student Research Competition at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Vancouver last week!  Sinead’s presentation was entitled “Fire history since the Medieval Warm Period in the Strait of Georgia Lowlands, southwestern British Columbia: Implications for ecological restoration.” This GSA meeting in Vancouver was the second largest on record, hosting more than 7000 geoscience researchers from around the world.

3 July 2014: Shout out to Brian Bylhouwer MRM ‘12 who was quoted in an LA Times article about coastal winds and climate change. Brian’s  masters work was described in the last 3 paragraphs, with a link to our paper  (Brian’s work concluded that the story isn’t so clear-cut along the Pacific Coast: interannual variability in winds makes it very difficult to detect trends in wind behavior over the last 60 years).

24 June 2014: A heartfelt welcome to Stephen Chastain, who joins REM and the COPE lab from the University of Pittsburgh.  Although not yet decided, Stephen is interested in researching a project relating paleoclimate research to regional conservation.

24 June 2014: Congratulations to Ben Cross, the 2014 recipient of the Dean’s Convocation Medal at this year’s graduation ceremony! More detailed descriptions can be found here and here.

30 May 2014: Karen Kohfeld was quoted in this article on Coastal Ocean Acidification for DeSmog Canada.

26 May 2014: Congratulations to Christie Spry, whose paper entitled “Characterizing Pineapple Express Storms in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland Using Meteorological, Streamflow and Stable Isotope Data”  was just accepted for publication in Canadian Water Resources Journal. Co-authors include Karen Kohfeld, Diana Allen (Earth Sciences), Ken Lertzman (REM), and Dave Dunkley (Metro Vancouver).

23 April 2014: Congratulations to LA Stavroff for the successful completion of her thesis requirements for a Masters of Science in Environment & Management in the School of Environment & Sustainability at Royal Roads University!  LA completed her masters work, entitled “Effects of Ocean Acidification Combined with Multiple Stressors on Early Life Stages of the Pacific Purple Sea Urchin,”  in the COPE laboratory.  Well done, LA!

24 February 2014: Congratulations to Ben Cross for winning an Outstanding Student Presentation Award at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco this December (2013)! There are 22,000 attendees at this conference, and only 3-5% of students attending receive an award.  Well done, Ben!

Ben Cross’s Defense Date: 19 November 2013, 3:30pm, REM SEMINAR ROOM The Impacts of Wind Speed Trends and Long-term Variability in Relation to Hydroelectric Reservoir Inflows on Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest.”

19 November 2013: Congratulations Carolyn Duckham, whose research on ocean acidification was highlighted in the SFU’s November addition of The Peak.

29 October 2013: Congratulations to Ben Cross who has won TWO Best Student Poster Awards, one at Clean Energy BC’s 11th Annual Conference (27-29 October, Vancouver, BC), and the second at the Pacific Northwest Climate Conference (September, Portland, OR, USA).  His poster was entitled: “The Impacts of Wind Speed Trends and Long-term Variability in Relation to Hydroelectric Reservoir Inflows on Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest.” SFU co-authors include fellow student Joe Bailey and REM Associate Professors Andy Cooper and Karen Kohfeld. Well done!

4 September 2013: Congratulations to Christie Spry who successfully defended her masters project entitled: “Understanding extreme precipitation behavior in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland using historical and proxy record.” Congratulations also on producing two manuscripts of publishable quality, one of which is already submitted!

3 September 2013: Welcome back REMMers, I’m back from my sabbatical!  Looking forward to a great fall term together.

24 July 2013: Congratulations to Carolyn Duckham who successfully defended her masters project entitled: “Impacts of ocean acidification and mitigative hydrated lime addition on Pacific oyster larvae: implications for shellfish aquaculture.” Good luck with your future endeavors as a doctoral candidate at University of British Columbia, Carolyn!


(Header Images courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory)