Sean Mekers

More Accurate Weather Predictions underway for Nova Scotia

By: Michelle Thompson

There is a saying in Nova Scotia that is all too familiar. “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change!” However, research underway at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture may help to make weather predictions for the province more accurate.Second year Actuarial Science student Sean Mekers will spend his summer working with Professor Haibo Niu on just this topic. An actuary analyzes the financial consequences of risk by using mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events. Sean will apply his knowledge in statistical downscaling to downscale global climate predictions to a local scale for more accurate weather predictions.  

“Global climate models are used to create a general view of how the world’s weather will change in the next century, but statistical downscaling allows for a closer view of how different regions in the Maritimes will change,” explained Sean.

Sean was one of three recipients of an Undergraduate Student Research Award for the summer of 2016. This award is meant to stimulate an interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering while encouraging students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career in these fields.

“When I found out that I received the award I was ecstatic,” said Sean. “I am very much looking forward to combining my math background with a more agricultural environmental field of study,” he added. “It’s nice to be able to have such a great opportunity in my hometown, just minutes from my home.”

Sean is currently attending the University of Calgary and just completed his second year in Actuarial Science. “Both of my parents work at the AC, so although I’ve never gone to school here, I have spent a fair bit of time on campus, in addition to the work I’ve started this summer,” Sean explains. “I’ve had the chance to meet and become friends with a number of faculty and students of the AC and the campus has always been friendly and inviting.”

Sean’s research, being conducted with supervision from Dr. Haibo Niu in the Department of Engineering could have beneficial, long-term affects for the industry.

“Knowing how the weather will look in different regions decades from now is an important piece of information,” explained Sean. “By attaining this information, one could see, for example, how growing seasons will change in different parts of the province,” he added. “Additionally, a number of statistics regarding precipitation and temperature can help predict how farming will be affected by future weather in different regions. Being able to accurately predict the weather in different locations across the Maritimes can have a variety of uses in the agricultural industry and in other industries as well.”

Sean is passionate about his work. “I like to be able to put my stamp of approval on something and be happy with what I’ve completed,” said Sean. “The AC has been an integral part of my life growing up and having the chance to come work here for the summer is great.”


Engineering at the Faculty of Agriculture

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