December 8, 2016 12:58 pm
Updated: December 8, 2016 1:59 pm

Top science award given to Canadian climate change researcher

WATCH: John England, a researcher studying Canada's arctic and climate change was given a lifetime achievement award.

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One of Canada’s top science awards has been given to a scientist researching the arctic for the last 50 years.

Doctor John England, a professor from the University of Alberta, was in Winnipeg to receive the lifetime achievement award by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and $50,000 on Wednesday.

“It’s a real honour and obviously I’m enormously grateful,” said England.

The focus of his work has been on understanding climate change by studying the earth’s weather history.

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“You study glaciers and ice sheets in the past, how the sea level is changing, how ocean currents are changing, how organisms in ocean sediments have changed through time and you start to be able to get a snapshot of what’s happened in the past. Then you can turn it around and go, well, we’re really seeing something new,” he said.

Over his decades of research, England has seen “big changes” in the arctic, including 5,000-year-old ice melting.

“That’s disappearing rapidly. So the bears and the sea ice – these are really becoming the iconic images of climate change,” he said.

“It’s not a blame game; it’s what’s happening to the globe right now. We ought to be contributing and being concerned.”

England said one of the big problems on the horizon will be when people will be forced to evacuate due to the rise in sea levels from climate change.

“The Syrian crisis right now, with migration into Europe, is enormously tragic- but at the same time, it pales in comparison to what we might see 10 or 20 years down the road if we’ve got hundreds of millions who need to go somewhere else,” he said.

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