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Greg Crawford, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Greg Crawford, PhD Greg Crawford, PhD

Dean, Faculty of Science | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

World-renowned oceanographer leads collaborative and inspired science faculty at UOIT





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International current and tidal expert Greg Crawford, PhD, has dedicated his career to coastal oceanography and limnology (the study of inland waters) in Canada and the United States. His research has led to the development of remote sensing techniques for measuring currents, waves, turbulence, gas bubbles and sand dollars (hard-shelled marine animals).

Dr. Crawford's research has had far-reaching environmental and economic implications. Perhaps most notably, he helped develop the world's first operational wave hazard forecasting model for a bar entrance, in partnership with the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS). The Humboldt Bay Bar Entrance Forecast model produces wave hazard predictions for every hour, up to five days in advance along the California coast, and is used to help mariners predict safe passage through dangerous waters. This work has served as a benchmark for the deployment of similar models in other coastal U.S. locations. He also helped to establish a real-time current mapping for the U.S. west coast using a network of high-frequency radar systems. Working with key stakeholders, he co-authored a California state white paper to assess environmental issues associated with proposed wave energy generation systems in the coastal region.

Dr. Crawford earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics (Honours Co-operative Education Program) in 1983 and his Master of Science in Physics in 1986, both from the University of Victoria. He obtained his Doctorate in Oceanography in 1993 from the University of British Columbia. During his undergraduate studies, he co-authored a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature and secured an opportunity to do his Masters research in the new field of acoustic remote sensing of the ocean alongside Dr. David Farmer, a leading researcher at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, B.C.

With a view to entering higher education management, he obtained a Master of Public Administration from California State University Dominguez Hills in 2006. In 2009, he took on a new role as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, B.C., managing 10 departments and three major research centres. Recently he moved east to Ontario, leaping at the opportunity to help shape UOIT's Faculty of Science. Appointed Dean in July 2014, Dr. Crawford's ‘leadership through service’ philosophy resonates well with faculty and students.

Industry Expertise (10)

Boating Education/Learning Environmental Services Fishery and Aquaculture Laboratory Services Maritime Professional Training and Coaching Program Development Research Training and Development

Areas of Expertise (5)

Observing and Modelling Waves (Including Tsunamis) and Currents Development and Application of Environmental Remote Sensing Techniques Mixing and Transport in Lakes, Estuaries, and the Ocean Physical Controls On Biogeochemical Processes in Water Higher Education Management

Accomplishments (6)

Dean, Faculty of Science, UOIT (professional)


Dr. Crawford brings more than 20 years of progressive experience in higher education and is dedicated to promoting and supporting the best in innovative research, teaching and learning in the faculty.

Tsunami Research Consultant (professional)


Dr. Crawford continues to partner with colleagues at Humboldt State University, conducting research on currents and waves in local harbours in order to better predict the potential impact of tsunamis and mitigate the loss of life and property.

Partnerships (professional)


Dr. Crawford has helped negotiate a variety of local and international partnerships with universities, including: a unique three-way partnership for the beneficial use of biosolids on low-nutrient, forested land; a funded initiative to support engagement with the aquaculture industry and other stakeholders; “2+2” post-secondary program agreements; and an environmental stewardship program, delivered in community, for aboriginal students.

Ocean Observing Systems (professional)


Dr. Crawford helped develop and manage several regional ocean observing systems projects on the U.S. west coast, including: Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program (COCMP; high-frequency radar systems to map ocean currents); California Integrated Coastal Ocean Research and Education (CICORE; nearshore, real-time coastal ocean monitoring); Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CENCOOS; an integrated regional observing system); Pacific Coastal Ocean Observing System (PACOOS).

Co-author, Ecosystem-Based Management Plan for Humboldt Bay (professional)


Dr. Crawford was a co-principal investigator on a grant to undertake a strategic planning exercise. He helped organize and run stakeholder meetings, synthesize findings, and develop a draft ecosystem-based management plan for Humboldt Bay, California (Schlosser et al. (2009); available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6x78j1dd.

Humboldt Bay Bar Entrance Forecast Model (professional)


The Humboldt Bay Bar Entrance Forecast Model produces wave hazard predictions for every hour, up to five days in advance, for the entrance to Humboldt Bay, California (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/eka/swan/). Known to have one of the most dangerous bay entrances along the west coast of North America, Humboldt Bay provides the key link for the transportation of fuel to rural northern California. The model helps mariners to plan safe routes and timing in and out of the bay.

Education (4)

California State University: MPA, Public Administration 2006

University of British Columbia: PhD, Oceanography 1993

University of Victoria: MSc, Physics 1986

University of Victoria: BSc, Physics 1983

Honours Co-operative Education Program

Affiliations (4)

  • American Geophysical Union
  • North Pacific Marine Science Organization
  • Canadian Council of Deans of Science
  • Council of Ontario Deans of Arts and Science

Event Appearances (8)

The Current Signal of the April 1, 2014 Chile Tsunami as Recorded in Crescent City, California

26th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics  Prague, Czech Republic


Measuring Possible Tsunami Currents from the April 1, 2014 Mw 8.2 Chile Earthquake in Crescent City, California

Fall 2014 American Geophysical Union Meeting  San Francisco, California


Resonant Ocean Current Responses Driven by Coastal Winds Near the Critical Latitude

61st Annual Eastern Pacific Ocean Conference (EPOC)  Mt. Hood, Oregon


Managing Organizational Change

British Columbia Deans of Arts and Sciences Programs  Victoria, British Columbia


Observed and Modeled Tsunami Current Velocities on California’s North Coast

26th International Tsunami Symposium  Göcek, Turkey


Summative Assessment and Program Prioritization: Experiences at Two Universities

2013 Western Canadian Deans of Arts and Sciences Conference  Victoria, British Columbia


Observed and Modeled Tsunami Current Velocities in Humboldt Bay and Crescent City Harbor, Northern California

Fall 2012 American Geophysical Union Meeting  San Francisco, California


Sustained Observations of Mesoscale and Submesoscale Surface Circulation off the U.S. West Coast

OCEANS 2012 Conference  Yeosu, Korea


Articles (3)

Poleward Propagating Subinertial Alongshore Surface Currents off the U.S. West Coast Journal of Geophysical Research


The network comprising 61 high-frequency radar systems along the U.S. West Coast (USWC) provides a unique, high resolution, and broad scale view of ocean surface circulation. Subinertial alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100–300) inline image that are consistent with historical in situ observations off the USWC and that can be possibly interpreted as coastally trapped waves (CTWs). The propagating signals in the slow mode are partly observed in southern California, which may result from scattering and reflection of higher-mode CTWs due to curvature of shoreline and bathymetry near Point Conception, California. On the other hand, considering the order of the phase speed in the slow mode, the poleward propagating signals may be attributed to alongshore advection or pressure-driven flows. A statistical regression of coastal winds at National Data Buoy Center buoys on the observed surface currents partitions locally and remotely wind-forced components, isolates footprints of the equatorward propagating storm events in winter off the USWC, and shows the poleward propagating signals year round.

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Long-term Observations of Deepwater Renewal in Crater Lake, Oregon Hydrobiologia


Abstract: We examine observations of key limnological properties (primarily temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen), measured over a 14-year period in Crater Lake, Oregon, and discuss variability in the hypolimnion on time scales of days to a decade. During some years (e.g., 1994–1995), higher-than-average wintertime deep convection and ventilation led to the removal of significant amounts of heat and salt from the hypolimnion, while dissolved oxygen concentrations increase. In other years, such as the winter of 1996–1997, heat and salt concentrations increase throughout the year and dissolved oxygen levels drop, indicating conditions were dominated by the background geothermal inputs and dissolved oxygen consumption by bacteria (i.e., minimal deep convection). Over the entire 14 year period, no statistically significant trend was observed in the annual hypolimnetic heat and salt content. Measurements from several thermistors moored in the hypolimnion provide new insight into the time and space scales of the deep convection events. For some events, cool water intrusions are observed sequentially, from shallower depths to deeper depths, suggesting vertical mixing or advection from above. For other events, the cooling is observed first at the deepest sensors, suggesting a thin, cold water pulse that flows along the bottom and mixes more slowly upwards into the basin. In both cases, the source waters must originate from the epilimnion. Conditions during a strong ventilation year (1994–1995) and a weak ventilation year (1996–1997) were compared. The results suggest the major difference between these 2 years was the evolution of the stratification in the epilimnion during the first few weeks of reverse stratification such that thermobaric instabilities were easier to form during 1995 than 1997. Thus, the details of surface cooling and wind-driven mixing during the early stages of reverse stratification may determine the net amount of ventilation possible during a particular year.

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Mapping Salt Marsh Vegetation Using Aerial Hyperspectral Imagery and Linear Unmixing in Humboldt Bay, California Wetlands


Composition of salt marsh vegetation is important to wetland ecosystem health, and monitoring invasive species is critical. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of airborne hyperspectral imagery in mapping salt marsh vegetation in Humboldt Bay, California. An unmixing algorithm was applied to spatial and spectral image subsets. Overall accuracy among Spartina densiflora, Salicornia virginica, and Distichlis spicata was assessed at 85.1%. Algorithm prediction between observed and predicted percent cover ranged from r2 = 0.32 to r2 = 0.53, an improvement on comparable studies. Percent cover prediction was least accurate for Distichlis spicata, due to initial endmember selection. Use of the Pixel Purity Index in conjunction with field work likely aided in identifying the best candidates for the linear unmixing technique.

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