Canadians donate $10,000 to save Arctic research station

Canadians have donated about $10,000 to help keep a unique High Arctic research station from closing after its federal funding stops, says the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.

PEARL forced to stop year-round monitoring of greenhouse gases, pollution

Canadians have donated about $10,000 to help keep a unique High Arctic research station from closing after its federal funding stops, says the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.

The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory is located at Eureka on Ellesmere Island, at a latitude of 80 degrees north. (CANDAC)

The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory, or PEARL, is the northern-most civilian research station in Canada. The laboratory takes measurements on greenhouse gases and ozone and verifies the accuracy of satellite data, among other things. It contributes data to several international projects monitoring climate change.

"Donations range from $5 up to over $1,000 and they come from coast to coast, from students, from people from all walks of life who are responding to the fact that this unique research station will not continue," said Dawn Conway, executive director of the foundation. 

She says about 80 people have donated since the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change announced the station would not be able to continue year-round.

"I’m really impressed with Canadians," said Kim Strong, an atmospheric physics professor at the University of Toronto who takes a team to the station each spring to measure air quality, pollution and greenhouse gases.

"It’s quite heartwarming. We’ve received a lot of expressions of support, which are just as welcome as the funding," she said.

Most of the station’s $1.5 million annual budget came from the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, a granting agency funded by the federal government from 2000 to 2010. In the 2011 budget, the government did not fund CFCAS but allocated $35 million over five years for climate and atmospheric research to be administered by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

A call for proposals has not yet issued for those funds, according to Strong. Without guaranteed funding, the foundation says PEARL will stop its year-round operations on April 30. Strong says the scientific community expects a call for proposals in the next few weeks, as it takes time to establish a new funding program.

Although the $10,000 is only a small percentage of the budget needed to stay open year-round, Conway says the funds will be made available to the team of researchers who manage the work at PEARL, led by Prof. James Drummond from Dalhousie University.