Hans Neu

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Hans Neu
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Outspoken environmental advocate

Dr. Hans Neu was a German engineer, oceanographer, and outspoken environmental advocate who was primarily active from the 1950’s until the 1980’s. He passed away in 2005 from old age[1].

In Germany, Neu worked as a mechanical engineer designing dams and processes of small low-head rivers[2]. The research scientist immigrated to Canada with his wife after World War II due to Cold War era concerns. Neu first worked at the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada and then the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO). Neu worked at the NRC from 1955-1964 and BIO from 1964-1984.

At the NRC, Neu contributed to the development of large-scale hydrodynamic projects across Canada. He assisted in the improvement of the St. Lawrence waterways in Montreal, Quebec[3] by designing flow variations that prevented obstructions. He designed adjustments for deep-sea navigation for the Fraser River in British Columbia[4]. He consolidated changes to channels surrounding Cornwall, Ontario[5] and to the Saint John harbour in New Brunswick[6].

The establishment of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth,, Nova Scotia in 1962 heralded the biggest and most advanced research centre in the Canadian Maritimes at the time.[7] As they were developing research groups, Neu was hired from the NRC in the Atlantic Oceanography Laboratory under G.T. Needler.[7] Here, Neu was able to expand and integrate his past experiences to review wider topics in oceanography. He devised an overview of the mixing processes of the St. Lawrence Estuary and Saint John Estuary[2]. He studied wave climate across the Canadian Atlantic Coast and Continental Shelf[8]. Neu also studied the long-term ocean climate of Atlantic water from 1970-1982, along with other research[9].

During his time at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Neu published three seminal papers that spoke to his growing environment anxieties about freshwater governance: Runoff Regulation for Hydro-Power and its Effect on the Ocean Environment (1976)[10] and Man-Made Storage of Water Resources—A Liability to the Ocean Environment? Part I & II (1982)[11]. Neu was worried about how freshwater flow was being regulated through hydropower dams and, subsequently selective seasonal water release and run-off. In the 1976 paper, he writes, “It can be assumed therefore that freshwater regulation modifies the climate of the coastal region to be more continental-like in the summer and more maritime-like in the winter.” Building on his work in the St. Lawrence, he also writes, “In the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence these changes should have a significant impact on the environment and on the marine biology of the lower St. Lawrence system and offshore region, probably as far south as the New England states.”

Neu’s opposition to hydropower projects was also cited in Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams[12] by Patrick McCully.


  1. Anderson, Betty (January 2005). "Membership Report" (PDF). BIO-Oceans Association Newsletter. p. 5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "History". Friends of Sebago Lake.
  3. Canada, Government of Canada National Research Council. "Catalogue - Canada.ca". cat.fsl-bsf.scitech.gc.ca.
  4. Canada, Government of Canada National Research Council. "Catalogue - Canada.ca". cat.fsl-bsf.scitech.gc.ca.
  5. Canada, Government of Canada National Research Council. "Cornwall Island Model - Second Study for the Effects of Construction Delays in Cornwall North Channels. - NRC Publications Archive - Canada.ca". nrc-publications.canada.ca.
  6. Canada, Government of Canada National Research Council. "Catalogue - Canada.ca". cat.fsl-bsf.scitech.gc.ca.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Nettleship, D.N.; Gordon, D.C.; Lewis, C.F.M. (2014). Voyage of Discovery: Fifty Years of Marine Research at Canada's Bedford Institute of Oceanography. BIO-Oceans Association. ISBN 978-0-9936443-0-6.
  8. Neu, H. J. A; Atlantic Oceanographic Laboratory (Canada); Canadian Committee on Oceanography (1971). Wave climate of the Canadian Atlantic coast and continental shelf - 1970. Dartmouth, N.S.: Atlantic Oceanographic Laboratory, Bedford Institute. OCLC 35382946.
  9. Canada, Government of Canada National Research Council. "Catalogue - Canada.ca". cat.fsl-bsf.scitech.gc.ca.
  10. NEU, H. J. A (1976). "RUNOFF REGULATION FOR HYDRO-POWER AND ITS EFFECT ON THE OCEAN ENVIRONMENT / Régularisation d'écoulement pour obtenir l'énergie hydro-électrique et son impact sur le milieu marin". Hydrological Sciences Bulletin Hydrological Sciences Bulletin. 21 (3): 433–444. ISSN 0303-6936. OCLC 4635167937.
  11. Neu, Hans J. A (1982-02-01). "Man-made storage of water resources—A liability to the ocean environment? Part II". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 13 (2): 44–47. doi:10.1016/0025-326X(82)90439-8. ISSN 0025-326X.
  12. McCully, Patrick (2001). Silenced Rivers: the Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. Zed Books. p. 350. ISBN 1856499022.

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