Ecosystem changes in North focus of new network
Canadian scientists are setting up a northern research network that will extend from the southern limits of the boreal forest up to Ward Hunt Island off northern Ellesmere Island, in an effort to study changes to ecosystems as the climate warms.
"That's going to be extremely useful to look at the taiga to the full arctic desert in the North," said Louis Fortier with ArcticNet, a group that brings together more than 300 researchers from across Canada.
Qaujisarvik is the name of the network, which is Inuktitut for "a place of study."
Laval University's Centre d'études nordiques in Quebec City is overseeing the establishment of the land-based network, which will include eight research stations in Nunavut and in Nunavik in northern Quebec. Funding to operate the network came from a $3-million grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
Yves Bégin, the director of the Centre d'études nordiques, told CBC News that the goal of the network is to study the movements of plants and other species over 350 kilometres, from south to north, as the climate warms. They will use devices to measure changes that happen in vegetation, water and other elements in ecosystems from 53 degreesto 83 degrees north, he said.
"In each region, there's special issues that are important for people that live there," Bégin said. "We expect to increase the volume of research in these areas and we expect also to increase the collaboration that we have with northern people in these areas by making them permanent."
The research facilities will be supported by 88 automated meterological stations that have been set up in Nunavik and Nunavut over the past two decades. Scientists hope to compare the data they gather from the network with information from Alaska, Siberia, Greenland and Scandinavia.
Researchers working on the Qaujisarvik project are in negotiations to establish a new laboratory on permafrost in Umiujaq in Nunavik, in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Germany. They want to erect a laboratory building on Bylot Island, as well as a special type of tent farther north on Ward Hunt Island.
The Makivik Corporation, the Kativik regional government and other northern organizations are collaborating on the project.