A new arctic research facility opened in Winnipeg Monday — the same day a major late-season blizzard hit southern Manitoba.

The Nellie Cournoyea Arctic Research Facility opened at the University of Manitoba, and adds 60,000 sq. ft. of space for researchers to work.

David Barber is the research chair in arctic system science at the U of M and said the facility is one-of-a-kind in Canada.

"We have our own sea ice tank on the University of Manitoba campus where we can grow our own sea ice under controlled conditions," said Barber.

"We can test out different kinds of hypotheses about characteristics of the ice."

A grand opening event held Wednesday morning let the public get a glimpse inside the research that will go on at the facility.

"It has specialized cold rooms and specialized research labs that look at all kinds of aspects of the arctic system and how it’s functioning," said Barber.

The project was partly funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Foundation officials said the labs, classrooms and offices were needed to accommodate an influx of students and researchers who wanted to work with Dr. Soren Rysgaard.

The centre was named after the first female premier of a Canadian territory.