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$41M earmarked for Arctic research


Quebec, QC April 24, 2003 C$41 million in funding intended to raise Canada’s international profile in Arctic science and answer important questions about the effects of global change in the North, was announced today.

The announcement was made by Allan Rock, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Georges Farrah, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Today’s funding includes:

– $27.7 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to retrofit an icebreaker with state-of-the-art equipment for Arctic research.

– $10 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to support a multi-year project to study the ecosystem and climate impacts of melting ice in the Arctic Ocean.

– $3 million from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to reactivate and refit the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker for its new role as a dedicated Arctic research platform.

The international project, led by Dr Louis Fortier of Universit Laval will become an important catalyst to re-energize Canadian Arctic science by giving researchers unprecedented access to the Arctic Ocean. Over the next 10 years, the vessel will support several major multidisciplinary programs of international stature to advance our understanding of climate, oceanic circulation, sea-ice dynamics, biology, biogeochemistry, sedimentology, paleoceanography, and geology in the Canadian sector of the Arctic Ocean. The ship will set sail for the Beaufort Sea in September as the first mission on the icebreaker.

“This research will help tackle issues that transcend national boundaries and will help consolidate Canada’s lead in Arctic oceanography,” said Minister Rock. “This new ship will also provide a unique training opportunity for Canada’s young researchers to work side by side with some of the world’s best environment and marine scientists.”

The Canada Foundation for Innovation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada funds will be used to retrofit an existing icebreaker – supplied by the Canadian Coast Guard – with state-of-the-art research equipment to study the environmental, social, and economic impact of global warming on Canada’s northern regions.

NSERC will allocate its funding directly to the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) – an NSERC Research Network involving 13 Canadian universities. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the National Defence also made major in-kind contributions to the network, by providing access to infrastructure and services essential to the realization of its mission. The estimated value of CASES is $42 million, with $11 million deriving from the international contributors.

The CASES Research Network will gather detailed information on variations in ice cover on the Mackenzie Shelf and the impact it has on the Arctic ecosystem. The collaboration involving foreign experts from nine countries will allow for the most comprehensive study of the Arctic shelves to date.

As part of the CASES study, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s scientists will join researchers from Canadian universities and participants from countries around the world, to conduct Arctic exploration and research. Their studies will cover a wide range of marine disciplines from physical oceanography to contaminants to marine mammal research.

The new scientific icebreaker will be crewed by Coast Guard personnel, who will lend their operational and navigational expertise to ongoing Arctic research projects.