Math meets climate change: TWU’s Dr. Sam Pimentel receives national research grant to improve predictive modelling for tracking developments within glaciology and ocean science

To better prepare for future outcomes of climate change, scientists are relying on predictive modelling, a way of forecasting the future using computer simulations based on mathematical representation of the climate and its current and historic patterns.

Predictive modelling can assess issues of immense consequence, such as the rise of sea levels and the movement of glaciers. It is used to analyze risk from glacier-related hazards and understand changes to glacier runoff.

In short, mathematical models are an essential tool for helping scientists see into the likely future of our planet. 

At TWU, Dr. Sam Pimentel is seeking to improve the forecasting capabilities within oceanographic and glaciological modelling for applications to climate change. He is the recipient of a $30,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to research the development and application of new and better ways to capture data for predictive modelling.

Dr. Sam Pimentel is seeking to improve the forecasting capabilities within oceanographic and glaciological modelling for applications to climate change.

Sam Pimentel
Sam Pimentel, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematical Sciences; Coordinator, Mathematics; Glaciologist

Dr. Pimentel’s research program focuses on two distinct modelling applications: glaciers and sea surface temperatures.

Through combining surface observations with numerical models of glacial movement, Dr. Pimentel and his team are inferring information about subglacial systems to find out how they influence the ice flow. When combined with other methods, Dr. Pimentel’s research may also improve our ability to track complex evolving glacier geometries. Such efforts are critical for the on-going research challenge of accurately modelling ice volume and extent under climate change.

Applied to sea surface temperature modelling, this research has potential to improve the sea surface temperature climate record and ocean-atmosphere forecasting.

About the project

Title: Development and application of novel data assimilation approaches

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, 2022­–2024

Improving monitoring and forecasting capabilities within oceanographic and glaciological systems is essential for understanding and predicting environmental changes of profound societal relevance, such as those related to climate change. Computational models used in geoscience can be enhanced through the development and application of data assimilation (DA), which seeks to optimally merge observational data into predictive dynamical models. This research program will focus on the development of novel numerical approaches that will be deployed to address pressing problems within glaciology and ocean science.

Improved modelling of glaciers is essential for climate change predictions, sea-level rise estimates, assessing risk from glacier-related hazards, and understanding changes to glacier runoff. This project will advance DA methodology for hydrologically-coupled ice-flow models utilizing surface observations to infer information about the evolving subglacial system. 

About TWU’s Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences

The Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences offers exceptional and rigorous educational experiences, both in the classroom and the lab. At TWU, science education is delivered by capable, committed Christian educators who are not only experts in their fields but scholars who continually advance their disciplines through research. Mentorship is helped by our small class sizes—whether you choose to study biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer science, geography and the environment, geology, mathematics, or physics. Learn more at the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences.

About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is a global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four locations in Canada: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at or follow us on Instagram @trinitywestern, Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

For media inquiries, please contact: