Sustainability Seminar Series features Prof. Mark Gordon’s talk on pollution in the oil sands

Mark Gordon
Mark Gordon

The third installment of the Sustainability Seminar Series, launched in October 2018 by York University’s President’s Sustainability Council, will explore the topic of atmospheric pollution in the Athabasca oil sands region on Jan. 31.

York University’s President’s Sustainability Council is an advisory body to the president, responsible for providing input and recommendations on how to advance the University’s sustainability initiatives, projects and practices.

Mark Gordon
Mark Gordon

The event features Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Mark Gordon, who will present “Measuring Atmospheric Pollutant Emissions, Mixing, and Deposition in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region” from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 125, Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence.

The extraction and processing of oil sands in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta releases more than 45 kilotonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2)and 95 kilotonnes of particulate matter into the atmosphere every year. The region is fertile ground for the study of atmospheric pollutant emission measurement techniques, pollutant mixing processes and source determination methods.

This talk will overview a number of studies in this region related to the emissions of atmospheric pollutants, mixing of pollutants into the surrounding environment and deposition of pollutants into the boreal forest.

It will look at the top-down emission rate retrieval algorithm, which calculates emissions from the production facilities using aircraft-based measurements.

It will also touch on the York Athabasca Jack Pine (YAJP), a 33-metre tall instrumented tower that is situated in a forested region surrounded by oil sands facilities. The YAJP tower measures energy balance and CO2 and moisture fluxes throughout the year, and will soon be outfitted with instrumentation to measure ozone. Gordon will discuss two intensive summer field studies at the YAJP that measured aerosol mixing and deposition, and ozone and SO2 profiles in the lower atmosphere.

These topics will be discussed in the context of improving the methods that are used to quantify sustainability.

For more information on the series, visit