Arctic ozone monitoring stations safe from budget cuts

Environment Canada is reducing its ozone monitoring program but says the stations in Canada's far north will be maintained.

Stations in Alert, Eureka and Resolute will remain; no word on seven stations in southern Canada

A senior federal official says there will be no cuts to ozone monitoring stations in the Arctic.

Environment Canada is reducing its ozone monitoring program but at a meeting this week of the federal environment committee, Karen Dodds, a senior environment official, said the stations in Canada’s far north would be maintained.

Ozone monitoring will continue at the Environment Canada station in Alert, Nunavut, seen here in 2006, as well as in Eureka and Resolute. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

There are three ozone monitoring stations in the Arctic — in Alert, Eureka and Resolute.

Tom Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Dalhousie University, said scientists only recently found a hole in the ozone over the Arctic and that northern monitoring is crucial.

"These northern stations are really important," he said. "They're important for ozone, looking for ozone holes, and really detecting fingerprints of ozone depletion.

"If they were to be reduced in their service we wouldn't be able to see ozone holes as well. Ozone holes appear at different places in the Arctic and so you actually need a rather sizable network of stations in order to look at the problem properly and understand really what's going on up there.

"Canada's an awfully big country," he said. "There are only seven stations in southern Canada, there are only three in the Arctic. So that's not really getting a whole lot of coverage. In fact, we'd really like to see more Arctic stations. It would make perfect sense to have a station in Iqaluit, for example."

There's no word yet on what will happen to the monitoring stations in southern Canada.