Douglas Wallace

Douglas Wallace

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology

Dalhousie University

“This appointment marks a significant development in the history of Dalhousie University. Dr. Wallace and his team will have the resources to carry out leading-edge research to measure critical changes in the world's oceans and develop new tools to advance predictions of these changes”

― Tom Traves, president, Dalhousie University


Douglas Wallace is a world leader in developing new technologies to measure changes to the world's oceans.

Before becoming Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology, Wallace was professor of marine chemistry at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany. There, he also served as deputy director and head of the Marine Biogeochemistry Research Division. He holds a PhD in chemical oceanography from Dalhousie University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

Wallace spent more than a decade working as a scientist at the prestigious Brookhaven National Laboratory in the United States. He also made significant scientific contributions to his field through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the US Department of Energy, where he developed the first survey to measure the global distribution of fossil-fuel carbon in the oceans.

Wallace is highly skilled at building successful multidisciplinary research teams, including CARBOOCEAN, a five-year study of the ocean carbon cycle, SOLAS, a global project investigating interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean. He also led the development of an ocean and atmosphere observatory on the Cape Verde Islands off the West African coast.

Discovering New Ways to Measure Change in the Oceans

Over the past decade, scientists have documented unprecedented changes in the world's ocean systems, from rising sea levels and overfishing to habitat destruction and ongoing increases in the acidity of ocean water. Canada continues to be directly affected by these physical, chemical and ecological changes, which have already brought the collapse of commercially important fish stocks, and changes in Arctic climate and ice cover.

As Canada Excellence Research Chair in Ocean Science and Technology, Douglas Wallace leads a research team working to help us predict and prepare for these threats by examining the causes and consequences of recent changes and building tools to detect and address them.

With his team at Dalhousie University, Wallace is developing new observation instruments that are more sensitive to biogeochemical oceanic change than current methods of detection. Packages of these instruments are being stationed on research vessels, but also on commercial ships that will act as “volunteer” observing platforms as well as on autonomous vehicles.

Wallace will use the data to measure, for example, how the uptake of fossil-fuel-derived carbon dioxide by the ocean is changing. Then, working with other Dalhousie investigators, Wallace will develop computer models to predict future changes in the exchange of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases between sea and air—as a result of climate change, for example.

As the first science director of the new Halifax Marine Research Institute, Wallace is playing a critical role in establishing a broad, long-term research agenda for the region. Bringing together academics and government researchers, the institute will serve as a bridge between the marine research community, the private sector and policy-makers, as well as becoming an integral part of joint projects with other nations. It will also provide Canada with the best possible tools and scientific information available for making informed decisions about our oceans.

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Douglas Wallace



Release date

October 11, 2011

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Read the Transcript

Douglas Wallace, Dalhousie University

So I'd just like to say a few words about what I'll try to achieve with this pretty amazing award. And then I'll stick to some generalities. I'd love to give a long detailed lecture about all the detailed things I'm going to do, but maybe I'll save that for another time. But if I do have time I'll say a few words about my experience with the process underlying this award.

My future research will focus on the north Atlantic Ocean and the very major changes that are underway in that ocean basin. Our focus on changes to ocean chemistry and biology but of course there is climate change going on as well and that's the context for all the other changes.

And needless to say Atlantic Canada, especially the Halifax/Dartmouth region, is an excellent base for research of this type, the research into the Atlantic Ocean. And Dalhousie has a long and internationally respected history of work in these fields as does the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and other institutions in the region. I'll have lots of excellent academic colleagues and also companies to work with.