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Polar research projects chosen for funding


Ottawa, ON – A total of 44 Canadian science and research projects have been selected for International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 funding from the federal government.

The projects are as follows, in alphabetical order:

Project Title: Arctic Freshwater Systems
Project Leader: Environment Canada
Description: Field studies and laboratory analyses will be carried out to develop new knowledge and information to assess the hydrology and ecology of northern freshwater ecosystems.
Location(s): Numerous field sites and communities across Canada’s North (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut)

Project Title: Arctic Resiliency and Diversity
Project Leader: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami with universities and Northern organizations
Description: Northern Aboriginal organizations will guide the development of a study on Arctic resiliency and diversity to examine the factors that determine resiliency in northern communities, and how northern communities are adapting to a changing world. This study will consider how the health of northern communities is expected to evolve with the changing climate, as well as environmental, technological and social changes in the North.
Location(s): Northern Canada

Project Title: Arctic Weather and Environmental Prediction Initiative
Project Leader: Gilbert Brunet, Environment Canada
Description: This initiative involves numerical modeling and data assimilation studies of various components of Arctic weather and climate systems, such as snow processes, polar clouds, sea-ice and ozone layer. The objective of this initiative is to develop and validate a regional Numerical Weather Prediction model over the Arctic. This model will help enhance our weather and environmental forecasting capabilities in polar regions, and improve our understanding of the Arctic and its influence on world weather.
Location(s): In several provinces, through collaboration between government, university and northern communities

Project Title: Beluga Tagging in the Arctic
Project Leader: Mike Hammill, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: The project will provide information on beluga movements, critical habitat and distribution. This information will be used in ocean forecast models to learn more about water currents and masses. Interactions with hunters will improve understanding of beluga habits and combine traditional and western scientific knowledge.
Location(s): Hudson Bay waters surrounding Nunavik

Project Title: C3O – Canada’s Three Oceans
Project Leader: Eddy Carmack, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: C3O will use two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers, whose current mission tracks encircle Canada, to obtain a snapshot of large-scale ocean and ecosystem properties, and thus establish a scientific basis for sustained monitoring of Canada’s Sub-Arctic and Arctic seas in the wake of global warming.
Location(s): C3O will measure ocean and ecosystem properties from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia, including the Gulf of Alaska, the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, the deep Canada Basin, the Northwest Passage from Amundsen Gulf to Lancaster Sound, Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea. In all, approximately 12,000 km of ocean track will be covered.

roject Title: The Carbon Cycle in the Canadian Arctic and Sub-Arctic Continental Margin
Project Leader: Charles Gobeil, Universit du Qubec
Description: The intent of this project is to collect sediment cores along sections on the margin of Canada’s three oceans, with the view that these sections span the present-day marginal ice zone. The change in the ice conditions of the Arctic Ocean’s margin can then be assessed against other margins that will exhibit no such change. With this work, the Canadian science community will take a leadership role in understanding the interactions between climate change and elemental cycles in the Arctic Ocean.
Location(s): The study area includes the sub-Arctic Pacific (margin leading up to the Aleutians), the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, the Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, and the Canadian Archipelago

Project Title: Carbon, Microbial and Plant Community Dynamics in Low-Arctic Tundra
Project Leader: Suzanne Simard, University of British Columbia
Description: Arctic ecosystems store large amounts of carbon in organic matter that may contribute to carbon dioxide production as climate warms, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. This research will expand on cutting-edge technology involving the use of stable isotopes and molecular methods to: 1) examine the role of mycorrhizal fungal networks in facilitating below ground transfer of carbon among tundra plants; 2) determine how carbon flux within plant-mycorrhizal systems varies during the growing season; 3) identify key microbial groups involved in the cycling of carbon in arctic tundra; and 4) examine how soil microbial communities respond to warmer climate conditions.
Location(s): Alaska

Project Title: Changing Forests and Peatlands along the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories
Project Leader: Jagtar Bhatti, Natural Resources Canada
Description: The Mackenzie Valley region of northwestern Canada is undergoing the most warming of any region, which is likely causing important changes in forests and peatlands. A five-year study of the Mackenzie Valley region in northwestern Canada will determine how thawing permafrost will affect greenhouse gas emissions and how warming will affect vegetation.
Location(s): The study will take place in four regions spread along a latitudinal gradient in the Mackenzie Valley

Project Title: The Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study
Project Leader: David Barber, University of Manitoba
Description: This project will examine the importance of climate processes in changing the nature of a flaw lead system (a unique area where open water persists throughout the winter) in the Northern Hemisphere, and the effect these changes have on the marine ecosystem, contaminant transport, carbon fluxes and greenhouse gases. The project requires the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen to spend the winter in the Banks Island flaw lead in the Southern Beaufort Sea.
Location(s): Southern Beaufort Sea

Project Title: Climate Change Impacts on Canadian Arctic Tundra
Project Leader: Greg Henry, University of British Columbia
Description: The project will examine how tundra ecosystems respond to climate variation using warming experiments and transects across a wide variety of tundra landscapes. It will provide the most complete assessment of tundra ecosystems in Canada, which can be used to evaluate climate changes in the future. The information from this project will be useful to Northerners, land and wildlife managers, and policy makers who need to understand the role of tundra in carbon populations.
Location(s): Canadian Arctic

Project Title: Climate Variability and Change Effects on Chars in the Arctic
Project Leader: James Reist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: This project is focused on understanding the effects of climate change on char (species of freshwater fish) biodiversity, how this responds to climate change, and the consequences of this to human beings. The work also examines linkages between climate change and mercury bioaccumulation.
Location(s): Nunavut, Nunavik, Labrador and the Northwest Territories

Project Title: Communities in the Changing Arctic
Project Leader: Barry Smit, University of Guelph
Description: The aim of this project is to systematically assess the vulnerability of communities across the Arctic to changing environmental conditions and identify opportunities to enhance adaptive capacities to sustain their natural resources, livelihoods and well-being. The research will draw on scientific, local and traditional knowledge to identify conditions that contribute to more sustainable northern communities in the circumpolar region.
Location(s): Labrador, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Project Title: Constructed Wet
lands for Treatment of Wastewater in Arctic Communities
Project Leader: Mark Williamson, Fleming College
Description: This project will develop new engineering and technology solutions to assist Northern people to adapt to changing settlement patterns and the associated wastewater treatment health issues that arise. Constructed wetland systems for wastewater treatment are an example of a sustainable, environmentally progressive technology that is in its infancy in polar regions. The research activities at the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment at Fleming College will focus on arriving at a prototype design specific to Arctic needs.
Location(s): Kivalliq Region, Nunavut

Project Title: Coordinated Effort to Clear Hepatitis Viruses from the Canadian North
Project Leader: Gerald Minuk, University of Manitoba
Description: Viruses that cause long-term infections of the liver are very common among Canadians living in the North (5-15 per cent of the general population). This project brings together scientists, doctors, nurses, administrators and community leaders who have an interest in this problem, and seeks to develop strategies that will lead to a better understanding of how the viruses cause liver disease (such as cirrhosis or liver cancer). The project also examines what can be done to prevent these outcomes. The group’s efforts will start with an examination of the most dangerous liver virus – the Hepatitis B virus.
Location(s): Northwest Territories, Nunavut

Project Title: Determining the Diet of the Greenland Shark in a Changing Arctic
Project Leader: Aaron Fisk, University of Windsor
Description: This project will determine the role of the Greenland shark in Arctic ecosystems, particularly its predation on marine mammals during winter ice cover and summer open water periods. This information is critical for managing other important animal populations in the Arctic such as ringed seals.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Dynamic Inuit Societies in Arctic History
Project Leader: Trevor Friesen, University of Toronto
Description: Archaeologists and other scientists from across Canada will collaborate with Inuit community and heritage organizations to better understand how Inuit culture has developed and changed over the past 1,000 years. Research teams will bring together Inuit knowledge, the excavation of important archaeological sites, and information about changing Arctic environments.
Location(s): across the Canadian Arctic

Project Title: Effects of Global Warming on Polar Bears, Seals and Whales
Project Leader: Steven Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: This research project will find out how marine mammals will adapt to global warming and whether they will be able to survive into the future. The project team will study the relationship between warming temperatures and changes in where polar bears, seals, and whales will survive and reproduce, and how many will remain. The team will use satellite telemetry to tell us how they move, tissue samples from hunters to tell us what they eat, and new technologies like genetics and modeling to tell us what the future will be like. Knowing how polar bears, seals, and whales adapt to shrinking sea ice may help save them and the Inuit culture that relies on them for food.
Location(s): Hudson Bay

Project Title: Engaging Communities in the Monitoring of Country Food Safety
Project Leader: Manon Simard, Makivik Corporation
Description: This project has three goals: to document known international and national distribution and abundance of Trichinella and Toxoplasma pathogens in Arctic wildlife; to provide regional infrastructure, equipment and training for wildlife sampling, coordinating and diagnosing diseases of food safety interest; and to develop/refine simplified (field) diagnostic tests for Toxoplasma and E.coli 0157:H7. This project will provide basic facilities, training of Northern personnel for future wildlife monitoring and disease diagnostics, as well as increase local knowledge on food safety.
Location(s): Labrador, Nunavik, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon

Project Title: Environmental Change and Traditional Use in the Old Crow Flats in Northern Canada
Project Leader: Shel Graupe, Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation
Description: This project will study the impacts of climate change on the environment in the Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation’s traditional territory. This includes looking at the changes in the health of members of the Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation and the food they eat (Porcupine Caribou Herd), vegetation, water quality, volcanic soil, muskrat populations, moose populations, and permafrost in comparison to the climatic changes since time immemorial.
Location(s): Yukon

Project Title: Environmental Change in the High Arctic from Snow and Ice Cores
Project Leader: Jocelyne Bourgeois, Natural Resources Canada
Description: International teams of scientists will collaborate to retrieve ice cores and snow pit samples from the Canadian High Arctic and Greenland to study past climate, contaminants concentrations and environmental change. The overall objectives are to understand past climate variability in the High Arctic, with a particular focus on summer temperature; concentration variability of contaminants entering the High Arctic regions; and, the role of Greenland’s ice sheet with respect to sea level change.
Location(s): Nunavut and northern Greenland

Project Title: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Vaccination against Respiratory Infections for Young Children of the Nunavik Region
Project Leader: Philippe DeWals, Centre de Recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Universit Laval
Description: This project will analyse medical records of approximately 3000 children born in Nunavik between 1994 and 2005 to verify whether vaccination of young children reduces the number of respiratory infections, prescriptions for antibiotics, hospitalizations and hearing disorders. The results of this study could be used to inform vaccination programs for all populations living in the Arctic.
Location(s): Nunavik

Project Title: How Seabirds Can Help Detect Ecosystem Change in the Arctic
Project Leader: William Montevecchi, Memorial University
Description: Climate changes that have been underway for several decades are influencing marine life in Arctic waters. Diving and surface-feeding seabirds (murres, fulmars, gannets, storm-petrels) will be studied during summer and when migrating throughout the High and Low Arctic during fall, winter and spring. The project will use previous surveys of seabird diets throughout Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador during the 1970s and 1980s to assess changes that have occurred in High and Low Arctic marine food webs and to establish a current baseline against which future change can be assessed.
Location(s): Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Title: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Disease in the Northwest Territories
Project Leader: Judy Niles, Public Health Agency of Canada
Description: The high occurrence and mortality rate of cervical cancer in Aboriginal populations of the Northwest Territories has led to concerns about current screening methods. This research will determine the prevalence of type specific HPV infection and cervical dysplasia (precancerous cells) in women of the Northwest Territories and provide scientific evidence for policy makers and local public health workers in the Northwest Territories to plan and implement more effective cancer control programs.
Location(s): Northwest Territories

Project Title: Impacts of a Changing Arctic Tree Line
Project Leader: Karen Harper, Dalhousie University
Description: Together with its international partners, this project will establish a network of long term monitoring and experimental plots to track future changes in the vegetation at the forest limit in the Canadian Arctic. This project is expected to link recent changes in tree and shrub distributions at the tundra border to environmen
tal change, and demonstrate how these changes will impact the health and well-being of northern communities.
Location(s): Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador

Project Title: The Impact of Climate Change on Tundra Wildlife
Project Leader: Gilles Gauthier, Universit Laval
Description: This project aims to document direct and indirect impacts of climate change on terrestrial animal biodiversity (insects, mammals, birds), and forecast future impacts on these populations and the Arctic ecosystem. The project will evaluate how arctic biodiversity will be impacted by climate change and will develop strategies to adapt to it.
Location(s): The project will take place at several sites in the Canadian Arctic, including national/ territorial parks in Nunavut, Yukon and Manitoba

Project Title: The Impacts of Oil and Gas Activity on Peoples in the Arctic
Project Leader: Dawn Bazely, York University
Description: Natural and social scientists will join with members of Arctic communities in Canada, Norway, Alaska and Russia to study the impacts of oil and gas activity on the health, traditional livelihoods, economic development and ecosystem change in the Arctic. The research will develop a broad range of community-driven grassroots indicators and methods to assess future change. The research will also broaden international collaboration and communication among circumpolar communities through focus group workshops on oil and gas impacts in local communities.
Location(s): Various locations throughout Canada’s territories

Project Title: Impacts of Severe Arctic Storms and Climate Change on Coastal Areas
Project Leader: William Perrie, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: The focus of this project is to understand coastal oceanographic processes in the Southern Beaufort Sea, and the related waters of the Western Canadian Arctic, driven by intense storms and severe weather. This area is important because the use of the coastal marine and terrestrial environment by Canadian Northerners is an integral part of their life style, and these environments are being impacted by coastal erosion processes, related to marine storms that tend to be growing stronger.
Location(s): Beaufort Sea, and coastal areas of the Yukon and Northwest Territories

Project Title: An Integrated Research Program on Arctic Marine Fat and Lipids
Project Leader: ric Dewailly, Centre de Recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Universit Laval
Description: This program will involve the collection and analysis of data in four regions through three projects that examine the importance of marine fat (omega-3) in the prevention of cardio vascular and mental disorders among Canadian Inuit. The bad influence of trans-fat acids from junk food will also be examined. A fourth project involves conducting interviews and focus groups on the changing value of traditional fats and contemporary fats in communities at different levels of westernization.
Location(s): Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, and the Northwest Territories

Project Title: Inuit Health Survey: Inuit Health in Transition and Resiliency
Project Leader: Grace Egeland, McGill University
Description: Inuit have concerns regarding the health impact of the pressures of change that have occurred and continue to occur in all dimensions of life and culture, from changing physical and natural environments to changes in sustenance, social life, and health and well-being. In the face of these rapid changes, Inuit have proven to be a resilient and adaptive people. A health survey will form baseline information for future comparisons and provide opportunities for improving our understanding of the changes that are occurring and how they affect the health and well-being of Inuit.
Location(s): Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories

Project Title: Inuit History: Climatic Change and Historical Connections in Arctic Canada
Project Leader: Patricia Sutherland, Canadian Museum of Civilization
Description: Archaeologists and palaeo environmental researchers will collaborate in investigating archaeological sites occupied during the period between AD 1000 and 1500, when ancestral Inuit first arrived in Arctic Canada. The sites have been selected in order to shed light on the interactions between Inuit, their Tuniit (Dorset culture) predecessors, and early Europeans.
Location(s): Nunavut and the Northwest Territories

Project Title: Inuit Sea Ice Use and Occupancy Project
Project Leader: Claudio Aporta, Carleton University
Description: This project’s aim is to provide a broad snapshot of Inuit knowledge and use of sea ice in the Canadian Arctic. The project also allocates resources to contribute to scientific, educational, and policy initiatives that seek to incorporate Inuit and scientific knowledge in investigating, or addressing environmental phenomena and/or change.
Location(s): Nunavut, Nunavik

Project Title: Investigation of the Effect of Climate Change on Nutrient and Carbon Cycles in the Arctic Ocean
Project Leader: Roger Francois, University of British Columbia
Description: This study will provide crucial information that will enable scientists to better predict the effect of changes in temperature, ice cover and fresh water discharge on the productivity, ecosystem structure and carbon sequestration capacity of the Arctic Ocean. This information will also help predict the impact of climate change on the socio-economic sustainability of northern Canadian communities.
Location(s): Two oceanic research cruises in the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea

Project Title: Kwaday Dan Ts’inchi Discovery – Expanding our Understanding through Linked Scientific and Community Studies Project
Project Leader: Sheila Greer, Champagne and Aishihik First Nation
Description: To address the information gaps in our understanding related to the remains of a young adult aboriginal male found eroding out of a receding glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in northern British Columbia in 1999, a research program focusing on the artefacts recovered as well as on the discovery site landscape and setting will be initiated. This will include studying the DNA of animal parts on the artifacts to establish the species represented; analysis of pigments on artifacts to determine their source/origin; and producing both detailed site and local context maps, including maps of former glacial extent.
Location(s): northern British Columbia

Project Title: Measuring the Impact of Climate Change on Landscape and Water Systems in the High Arctic
Project Leader: Scott Lamoureux, Queen’s University
Description: This research will investigate how climate change effects Arctic rivers, soils and vegetation, and provide an understanding of the hydrological and ecosystem processes that are sensitive to climate change. The research also seeks to predict and anticipate future climate change effects. There are plans to train young adults in environmental science methods and educate them about the research. In addition, the research team will work with community leaders to develop a science learning program for elementary students in northern communities.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Monitoring the Impacts of Global Change on Caribou and Wild Reindeer and their Link to Human Communities.
Project Leader: Don Russell, Yukon College
Description: An international network of scientists, managers and community representatives will work to improve our understanding of the impacts of changes in the Arctic on caribou and wild reindeer herds, as well as the people that depend on them for survival.
Location(s): Northwest Territories

Project Title: Northwest Territories Ice Patch Study
Project Leader: Thomas Andrews, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Description: The Northwest Territories Ice Patch Study combines archaeology, biology and geology to investigate ancient hunting artifacts and animal remains preserved in alpine
ice patches. The field research will focus on recovering artifacts and biological samples from ice patches in the Mackenzie Mountains. This information will help manage caribou populations in the Northwest Territories and contribute to the sustained health and cultural well being of Aboriginal communities that rely on caribou for traditional subsistence activities.
Location(s): Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories

Project Title: Ocean Currents of Arctic Canada
Project Leader: Humfrey Melling, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: This project will measure how much fresh water, salt water and sea ice pass from the Arctic Ocean to the Labrador Sea through the Canadian Archipelago each year. It will also determine what drives this flow, and how it will change with changing climate. Fresh water mixed into ocean surface water is critical to: (1) protecting Arctic ice from warm ocean water; (2) the productivity of Arctic marine ecosystems; and (3) the occurrence of ocean overturning in the Labrador Sea that removes climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Because a warmer climate may deliver much more fresh water to the Arctic, this research will clarify climate change impacts on local marine ecosystems and human activities, and also the impact of climate change on global deep ocean circulation.
Location(s): Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut

Project Title: Ocean Production of Trace Gases in the Arctic and their Impact on Climate
Project Leader: Maurice Levasseur, Universit Laval
Description: The biological and photochemical production of a number of climate-active trace gases and related atmospheric compounds, including aerosols, will be measured during two autumn expeditions on board the ice-breaker CCGS Amundsen in 2007 and 2008. This project’s goal is to provide critical knowledge on the interactions between sea ice, gas circulations and emissions, and particles in the Arctic. The end goal is to help reduce uncertainties surrounding these climate processes.
Location(s): an East-West transect across Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound/Barrow Strait in Nunavut

Project Title: The PEARL near the Pole – Atmospheric Research in the High Arctic
Project Leader: James Drummond, University of Toronto
Description: PEARL is a new atmospheric research laboratory at Eureka, Nunavut. International Polar Year observations at this site will be intensified and several specific research projects will be conducted. Coordinated atmospheric experiments will be run in conjunction with other similar laboratories around the Arctic. The Arctic atmosphere is expected to undergo many changes in the coming years, many of them much larger and faster than will occur at lower latitudes.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Permafrost Conditions and Climate Change
Project Leader: Antoni Lewkowicz, University of Ottawa
Description: The goal of this project is to provide a snapshot of permafrost conditions during the International Polar Year that we can use to make predictions about the future. Permafrost and the ice it contains make it difficult to build houses, roads and pipelines in the North. However, if the permafrost thaws this may cause new problems. Research is needed to understand how quickly change is happening and to help prepare northern residents and communities – as well as industry and governments – for the future.
Location(s): Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Project Title: Polar Ecosystems in Transition: An Interdisciplinary Investigation into the Impacts of Climate Change on Polar Bears
Project Leader: Elizabeth Peacock, Government of Nunavut
Description: This project’s objective is to gather scientific and Inuit knowledge on changes in the polar bear ecology. The project will examine foraging ecology (changes and variations in terrestrial feeding, and the correlation of seal and polar bear growth) in four populations. The study will also record Inuit knowledge related to the subject in one of the populations. Finally, the study will examine how the accumulation of contaminants in one population has changed with increasing temperatures.
Location(s): Nunavut, Manitoba, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut

Project Title: Pollutants Travelling in the Air to the Arctic
Project Leader: Hayley Hung, Environment Canada
Description: This project will measure toxic chemicals produced from human activity and carried through the air to the Arctic. The chemicals will be measured in the air around the Pacific Rim to find out where they have come from and how they ended up in the Arctic. As these chemicals reach the Arctic, they fall to the ground, potentially affecting the health of both humans and animals. This project will help to determine where these chemicals have come from and how the weather influences their presence in the Arctic.
Location(s): Little Fox Lake, Yukon (closest community: Whitehorse), and Alert, Nunavut (closest community: Grise Fjiord).

Project Title: OASIS-CANADA: Understanding Ozone and Mercury in the Air Over the Arctic Ocean
Project Leader: Jan Bottenheim, Environment Canada
Description: When the sun rises in the Arctic, both tropospheric ozone gas and toxic chemical mercury mysteriously disappear from the air in the lowest layers of the atmosphere. OASIS-CANADA aims to understand the causes of their disappearance while investigating the effects of reduced ozone on Arctic’s environment and whether the disappearing mercury ends up in the Arctic food supply. It will also look at how this might contribute to climate change.
Location(s): The Arctic Ocean

Project Title: Variability and Change in the Canadian Cryosphere (Snow and Ice)
Project Leader: Anne Walker, Environment Canada
Description: Research activities involve investigating the current state and past change of the cryosphere (snow, lake and river ice, sea ice, frozen ground, glaciers and ice caps) through analysis of satellite data and images, field measurements, and historical data. Projections of future climate change will be evaluated and enhanced by improving the representation of the cryosphere in Canadian climate models. This project will provide new satellite derived information products to meet the needs of a wide variety of users including northern communities and water resource management and operations. It will also support climate impact studies and the development of adaptation strategies.
Location(s): Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, northern Quebec