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International Polar Year science and research projects in Canada supported through funding from the Government of Canada

International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 has been the largest ever international program of coordinated, interdisciplinary science focused on the Arctic and Antarctic. Organized by the World Meteorological Organization and the International Council for Science, the official observing period for IPY took place over a 24-month period from March 2007 to March 2009. IPY involved conducting scientific activities in the Earth's Polar Regions to deepen the understanding of polar processes, global linkages and increase our ability to detect changes at the poles. IPY has also aimed to involve Arctic residents in research activities, attract and develop the next generation of polar scientists and experts, and capture the interest of the public. Valued at several billion dollars worldwide and involving more than 60 countries, over 200 international research networks, and thousands of researchers, IPY has been a significant and important scientific event. IPY 2007-2008 provided the opportunity for nations and researchers to collaborate, advancing our knowledge of the Polar Regions and critical scientific issues facing the globe.

Project Descriptions

The following 52 projects are supported by federal government funding dedicated for International Polar Year science and research. The projects with a star (*) are those funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council alone, those projects with a (∆) are those funded by the International Polar Year Program alone and those projects with a (◊) were funded jointly.



Atmosphere and Weather

Project Title: Understanding the Dehydration-greenhouse Feedback Process in the Arctic *

Project Leader: Jean-Pierre Blanchet, Université du Québec à Montréal

Description: Industrial activity produces pollutants that are transported to the Arctic through atmospheric circulation, producing what has become known as Arctic haze. Little is known about the impact of this haze. This project is taking advantage of a new group of satellites offering an unprecedented ability to observe cloud and aerosol processes, including Arctic haze, on the Arctic climate system. This work is looking at links between synthetic chemicals and climate change, especially in the coldest part of the year when such chemicals have an unknown effect on weather in the North.
Location(s): Beaufort Sea; Nunavut

Researchers put together a tower that will  monitor conditions | Photograph by:  Dave Halpin

Project Title: Understanding Ozone and Mercury in the Air over the Arctic Ocean (OASIS) ∆

Project Leader: Jan Bottenheim, Environment Canada
Description: Industrial activity produces pollutants that are transported to the Arctic through atmospheric circulation, producing what has become known as Arctic haze. Little is known about the impact of this haze. This project is taking advantage of a new group of satellites offering an unprecedented ability to observe cloud and aerosol processes, including Arctic haze, on the Arctic climate system. This work is looking at links between synthetic chemicals and climate change, especially in the coldest part of the year when such chemicals have an unknown effect on weather in the North.

Project Title: Atmospheric Research in the High Arctic External Link

Project Leader: James Drummond, University of Toronto
Researcher removing frost  from instruments on radiation tower | Photograph by: Yann Blanchard, 2008 Description: The Arctic atmosphere is expected to undergo more dramatic changes in the coming years than will occur at lower latitudes. At the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) on Ellesmere Island, more than a dozen instruments operate year-round to study the atmosphere from ground-level to 100km above ground. Clouds, rain, snow, sun and wind are among the climate-related factors and processes that are being studied. PEARL is providing an abundance of information on changes in atmospheric composition and weather in the Canadian High Arctic. Together with long-term monitoring at similar Arctic and other research sites worldwide, this project is contributing to a better understanding of global atmospheric change.
Location(s): Ellesmere Island, Nunavut

Project Title: Intercontinental Atmospheric Transport of Pollutants to the Arctic (INCATPA) External link to a Government of Canada site - A new browser window will open.

Project Leader: Hayley Hung, Environment Canada
Two scientists collect soil samples, Chilkoot trail | Photo: Frank Wania Photograph by: Frank WaniaDescription: Pollutants can travel long distances by air or water from their source of emission and make their way to the Arctic. Once in the Arctic, pollutants can enter into the food chain. This project has established monitoring stations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean to measure these pollutants. Early findings show that the deposition of these pollutants depends on variables such as local temperature and wind direction. This project is determining the source of these chemicals, and the influence that climate change will have on the movement and pathways of pollutants to the Arctic.
Location(s): Alert, Nunavut; Little Fox Lake, Yukon; Alaska; China; Russia; Vietnam

Project Title: Structure and Evolution of the Polar Atmosphere External Link *
Project Leader: Theodore Shepherd, University of Toronto
Description: Atmospheric data assimilation combines observations of the atmosphere and model forecasts to produce a picture of the current state of the atmosphere. As part of the International Polar Year, research teams around the world have been producing atmospheric data assimilation products. This project is collecting, comparing and archiving this material to get a sense of present and long-term changes in the Earth’s atmosphere. This work is assessing the quality of these products, as well as looking at innovative ways of applying or interpreting this wealth of information.

Project Title: Arctic Weather and Environmental Prediction Initiative (TAWEPI) External link to a Government of Canada site - A new browser window will open.
Project Leader: Ayrton Zadra, Environment Canada
Description: Being able to predict the weather is important for the health, safety and economy of communities throughout the world. However, the technology to predict weather in the Arctic has not been well developed. This project is producing comprehensive weather maps of the Arctic stratosphere that include features like temperature, wind and various atmospheric chemicals. Numerical weather prediction models for one- to two-day regional weather forecasts for the Canadian Arctic are also being developed and validated. All models are being evaluated against ongoing weather with additional features on how disturbances, like extreme storms, from other regions affect weather in the North, how snow moves across different surfaces and how clouds and solar processes can be better represented in forecast models.

Land and Freshwater Ecosystems

Project Title: Changing Forests and Peatlands along the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories ∆
Project Leader: Jagtar Bhatti, Natural Resources Canada
Field camp on a peat plateau, Sahtu region NWT | Photograph by: Ruth Errington; © Her Majesty the  Queen, in right of Canada,  represented by the Minister of Natural Resources (Canada), 2007. Description: A network of 26 sites has been established to monitor carbon cycling and greenhouse gas emissions in the Mackenzie Valley in northwestern Canada. This is an area where significant warming is expected to cause equally significant changes in forests and peatlands. Peatlands in the North store a vast amount of carbon that could potentially be released, along with other greenhouse gases, through the thawing of permafrost. This work is providing insight into how climate change is affecting these processes, information that will be fed into models to predict changes in the plant communities and permafrost zones of the Arctic.
Location(s): Mackenzie Valley, from Northern Alberta to Inuvik, Northwest Territories

Project Title: Environmental Change in the High Arctic from Snow and Ice Cores ∆
Project Leader: Jocelyne Bourgeois, Natural Resources Canada
Researchers collecting  snow samples, Photo: Jocelyne Bourgeois | Photograph by: Jocelyne Bourgeois Description Through the analysis of ice cores and snow samples and comparison with results of similar surveys completed in the 1990s, this project is documenting changes in climate and trends and levels of atmospheric contaminant deposition in the Canadian Arctic and adjacent regions. Researchers have measured the deposition of atmospheric contaminants such as sulphates, nitrates, mercury and other trace metals in snow and have found a significant drop in concentrations since the 1990s. At the same time, pollen concentrations have been increasing, and related glacier-monitoring studies have shown an increase in summer ice melt. In collaboration with researchers in Greenland, ice core samples are being collected to provide the first undisturbed ice core record of the last interglacial period which ended about 115,000 years ago, providing further data on climate and contaminant change over time.
Location(s): Ellesmere Island, Nunavut; Churchill, Manitoba; northern Greenland

Project Title: Yeendoo Nanh Nakhweenjit K’atr’ahanahtyaa: Environmental Change and Traditional Use in the Old Crow Flats, Yukon ∆
Project Leader: Shel Graupe, Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation
Old Crow River  near the confluence of King Edward Creek | Photograph by: Kevin Turner Description: The Old Crow Flats in northern Yukon is the homeland of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and is a wetland ecosystem of international significance. Local observations indicate that this area is undergoing pronounced and unprecedented changes. To understand these changes, this project uses both traditional knowledge and scientific methods to investigate the hydrology, permafrost, plants and animals of the Old Crow Flats, as well as food security issues in surrounding communities. The use of paleo-environmental research techniques is also allowing researchers to assess conditions in the area during previous interglacial periods. Together, this information will be used to establish a legacy of community-based monitoring, create a strategic action plan to manage this important area, and serve as a model to other northern communities experiencing and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Location(s): northern Yukon

Project Title: Impacts of a Changing Arctic Tree Line External Link
Project Leader: Karen Harper, Dalhousie University
Two Researchers crossing river with late snowfall | Photograph by: Andrew Trant/Memorial University Description: One of the most visible features in the Canadian Arctic is the delimitation zone or treeline. Although its position is related primarily to latitude and altitude, other factors like climate can play a role in its definition. By mapping the distribution of tree and non-tree species at the treeline, collecting climate and related environmental data, assessing the role of landscape disturbance and developing predictive models, this project is investigating how the Canadian treeline is changing and what mechanisms are creating this change. The relationship between the treeline and northern communities is also being investigated, as Northerners not only notice changes in the treeline over time, but are affected by these changes in terms of harvesting, traditional activities and eco-tourism.
Location(s): Manitoba; Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavut; Ontario; Quebec; Yukon

Project Title: Polar Research Observatories for Biodiversity and the Environment (PROBE) *
Project Leader: Paul Hebert, University of Guelph
Description: Life in the polar regions is diverse and complex. Tracking biological organisms will help to better understand how diversity will change in response to climate change. From the Low to the High Arctic, this project is using genomic technologies to further understand biodiversity in the Canadian Arctic. Through DNA barcoding, species will be more quickly identified allowing for better, more efficient monitoring of change in biodiversity. New image analysis techniques are also being used to measure genome sizes and chromosome sets of collected species. Through an aggressive sampling program of animal and algal diversity, an unprecedented number of species are being studied.
Location(s): Manitoba; Nunavut

Project Title: Climate Change Impacts on Canadian Arctic Tundra External Link
Project Leader: Greg Henry, University of British Columbia
Description: Canada has the greatest variety of tundra ecosystems of all polar nations, yet little is known about these ecosystems. Ranging from the treeline to the High Arctic, this project is undertaking the first comprehensive assessment of the Canadian tundra. Results from this work will feed into the development of models to predict future change of the tundra. To maximize the effectiveness of these models, data has been collected at various scales, from plot-level to remote sensing, and on various tundra features such as vegetation, soils, microorganisms, carbon dioxide exchange, wildlife and northern communities. Experimental work has been undertaken simulating warming to determine how tundra ecosystems will react to changes in climate.
Location(s): Canadian Arctic

Project Title: Climate and Alpine Tundra Ecosystems in Southwest Yukon *
Project Leader: David Hik, University of Alberta
Description: Over the past four decades, the southwest Yukon has experienced rapid warming and can now serve as a good example of how ecosystems adapt to rapid climate change. In the alpine environment of sub-arctic mountains, this project is determining how climate has changed regionally over time and how alpine ecosystems are affected by this change. Through the combination of observational, experimental and modeling techniques, this work is providing an overview of the present state of the southwestern Yukon alpine environments, as well as understanding past and present environmental change in order to improve predictions of future change.
Location(s): Yukon

Project Title: Measuring the Impact of Climate Change on Landscape and Water Systems in the High Arctic External Link
Project Leader: Scott Lamoureux, Queen’s University
Airplane flying over  base camp | Photograph by: Joshua See Description: Snowfall serves as the main source of water in the High Arctic and climate models suggest there could be substantial increases in snowfall in the region in the years to come. Through research on rivers, soil, vegetation, snow, ice and permafrost, this project is investigating the current state of hydrological and ecological systems in the High Arctic. Specifically, differences in snowpack, soil temperatures and on snowmelt and their association with sediments, soil erosion, plant growth and dissolved nutrients and greenhouse gas release are being examined. By manipulating snow accumulation, investigating areas of permafrost and soil disturbance, using remote sensing and collecting lake sediment, an overall picture of the past and current state of the land and water systems in the High Arctic is being gained, information that will then feed into predicting, through the development of models, how this landscape will change in the future.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Permafrost Conditions and Climate Change ∆
Project Leader: Antoni Lewkowicz, University of Ottawa
Exposed ground ice | Photograph by: Antoni Lewkowicz Description: Permafrost is defined as frozen ground and can be found in various conditions across the Canadian Arctic. Climate change is expected to have significant effects on permafrost that will result in challenges to northern communities in terms of construction, infrastructure and resources development. Through the use of existing research sites and the establishment of new sites, this project is providing a “snapshot” of current thermal conditions on the ground across the Canadian North. This work is drawing a new permafrost temperature map for Canada and a baseline against which to measure future change. At the same time, data from existing monitoring sites allows researchers to detect how permafrost has changed over time.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavut; Yukon

Project Title: Dynamic Response of Arctic Glaciers to Global Warming External Link *
Project Leader: Martin Sharp, University of Alberta
Description: Melting glaciers impact global sea levels and contribute increased freshwater into the oceans. To improve our ability to predict future changes in ice sheets and tidewater glaciers, researchers are studying the ice dynamics of the Belcher Glacier, which is part of Devon Island’s ice cap. This work uses field measurements and remote sensing to carry out seabed mapping, time-lapse imagery of surface drainage and calving. Ice thickness, ice velocity, snow accumulation, and weather are also monitored. The resulting data are being incorporated into a sophisticated model describing glacier hydrology and ice flow dynamics, which can be used to predict the impact of climate change on Arctic glaciers.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Carbon, Microbial and Plant Community Dynamics in Low-Arctic Tundra ∆
Project Leader: Suzanne Simard, University of British Columbia
Treatment plot with typical Low-Arctic tundra. | Photograph by: Julie Deslippe Description: Arctic ecosystems store large amounts of carbon in plants and soil and this carbon may be released and contribute to carbon dioxide production as the climate warms. In the Arctic tundra however, plant interactions with mycorrhizal fungi and other soil microbes that regulate carbon are poorly understood. Across growing seasons, this project is investigating links between below and above ground community processes regarding carbon balance and transfer. Using new advances in technology, this work is identifying key microbial groups in the soil that are involved in the cycling of carbon in Arctic tundra and determining how carbon cycling will respond to climate change.
Location(s): Alaska.

Project Title: Microbial Biodiversity of High Arctic Ecosystems (MERGE) External Link *
Project Leader: Warwick Vincent, Université Laval
Description: The polar regions are rich with microbial organisms however, little is known about microbial dispersal, distribution and biogeography. This project is studying microbial life in lakes, fiords, ice shelves, springs and permafrost soils in the Canadian Arctic. To determine species diversity and distribution, this work combines classical analytic methods with the latest tools of molecular biology and is looking at the viruses, bacteria, single-celled organisms and vegetation that make up a large part of the biomass of the Arctic desert. Comparisons are being made to similar features found in Antarctica for a polar perspective on microbial communities.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Variability and Change in the Canadian Cryosphere (Snow and Ice) External link to a Government of Canada site - A new browser window will open.
Project Leader: Anne Walker, Environment Canada
Ice cores cut out of lake ice. | Photograph by: Peter TooseDescription: Cryosphere is a term that refers to all surfaces formed by frozen water, including lake, river, and sea ice, snow covers, frozen ground glaciers and ice caps. Through the analysis and linking of satellite data/images, field measurements, historical data records and traditional knowledge, this project is evaluating the Canadian cryosphere to determine how it has evolved over time and what it looks like today. Monitoring of such features as tundra and alpine snow cover, seasonal frozen ground, lake ice, albedo or the surface reflection of the sun, vegetation, wildlife, snow melt and sea/river ice dynamics have been carried out. This information will be used to produce models to predict future change and help northern communities navigate the changing landscape.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Nunavut; Yukon

Project Title: Arctic Freshwater Systems External link to a Government of Canada site - A new browser window will open.
Project Leader: Fred Wrona, Environment Canada
Description: Changes in climate are expected to have wide ranging effects on various ecosystems in the Arctic, including freshwater systems. However, to identify what these effects will be, an understanding of the basic mechanisms and processes is needed. This project is increasing our knowledge and developing predictive models for freshwater and nutrient flow, investigating chemical and physical processes in freshwater systems, establishing a database on freshwater biodiversity and helping northern communities develop community-based monitoring of Arctic freshwater ecosystems. By basing this work across the Canadian North, both an overall picture and regional characteristics are being defined.
Locations: Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Nunatsiavut; Nunavut; Yukon

Oceans and Sea-Ice

Project Title: Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study (CFL) External Link
Project Leader: David Barber, University of Manitoba
Researcher underwater in Beaufort Sea. | Photograph by: Jeremy Stewart, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada Description: A flaw lead is a natural opening in the sea ice that forms and persists throughout the winter, providing an exceptional opportunity to study the Arctic Ocean. This project is looking at ocean dynamics, climate, marine ecosystems, contaminants, greenhouse gases and carbon and nutrient cycles. The data was collected during the first ever overwintering of an icebreaker, the CCGS Amundsen, in a flaw lead system in the Canadian Arctic. Results are helping explain and predict how climate change will affect a flaw lead system. In addition, traditional knowledge is providing further perspective of how the Arctic Ocean has changed over time.
Location(s): Beaufort Sea

Bottom Core Grab instrument emerging from ocean | Photograph by: Unknown Project Title: Canada’s Three Oceans (C3O) ∆
Project Leader: Eddy Carmack, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: Canada’s three oceans are dynamically interconnected by various water masses, so to understand one ocean, you have to understand all three. This project was designed to take a physical, chemical and biological snapshot of all three oceans to evaluate connections, features and processes within the Canadian ocean environment. By making measurements of a wide range of properties, from numbers and types of seabirds to plankton and nutrients in the water to chemical and physical processes of the oceans, these voyages provide a history and baseline from which to begin long-term monitoring of Canada’s oceans.
Location(s): Canadian Archipelago; Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans



Project Title: Effects of Climate Change on Nutrient and Carbon Cycles in the Arctic Ocean (GEOTRACES) ∆
Project Leader: Roger Francois, University of British Columbia
Description: Trace elements are chemicals that occur at very low concentrations, but play a role in the carbon cycle, marine ecosystems, and contaminant and climate processes of the oceans. This project is looking at the distribution and processes relating to trace elements in the Arctic Ocean. Specifically, how trace elements interact with changes in temperature, sea-ice cover, fresh water discharge, marine ecosystem structure and carbon sequestration capacity of the Arctic Ocean are being studied. Trace elements of interest include metals, such as iron and copper, as well as chemicals related to carbon and nutrient cycles, greenhouse gases and atmosphere-ocean interactions.
Location(s): Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

Project Title: Carbon Cycle in the Canadian Arctic and Sub-Arctic Continental Margin ∆
Project Leader: Charles Gobeil, Université du Québec
Description: Carbon is essential to the chemistry of life and the continental shelves of the oceans are critical sites for carbon cycling. Given the amount of continental shelf associated with the Arctic Ocean, understanding carbon in the Arctic Ocean is paramount to understanding physical and biogeochemical processes involving carbon. To investigate how unique features of the Arctic, such as sea ice and climate, affect carbon cycling, this project collected sediment cores along the margins of Canada's Arctic Ocean to compare to cores being collected in Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Through sediment coring, a 40,000-year history of carbon in Canada’s three oceans is being gained.
Location(s): Canadian Archipelago; sub-Arctic Pacific Ocean; Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas; Baffin Bay; and Davis Strait.

Project Title: Ocean Production of Trace Gases in the Arctic and their Impact on Climate (C-SOLAS) ∆
Project Leader: Maurice Levasseur, Université Laval
Description: The atmosphere and ocean have a dynamic, lively relationship which is very sensitive to changes in climate and includes complicated chemical and biological processes. Of interest to this project is how changing sea ice and ocean processes affect the chemistry of oceans with the cycling of atmospheric gases and microbiological organisms being of most interest. After two trips on the Canadian research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, initial findings are unraveling the relationship between the atmosphere and ocean with unexpected changes in such things as biological production and greenhouse gases adding to the complexity of this relationship.
Location(s): Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans; the Canadian Archipelago

Project Title: Ocean Currents of Arctic Canada (CAT) ∆
Project Leader: Humfrey Melling, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: One of the pathways in the Canadian Arctic which ocean currents use to flow southwards is the Canadian Archipelago. The purpose of this project is to explore what drives the flow of water through the Canadian Archipelago and how various factors are involved in this process. Specifically, the influx of freshwater is very important for regulating temperature, marine ecosystems and carbon cycling and how this works and shifts in the face of climate change are also focuses for this project. This is being accomplished by measuring weather, ocean factors such as salinity, temperature, current, ice thickness, ice drift and sea level throughout the Canadian Archipelago.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Impact of Severe Arctic Storms and Climate Change on Coastal Areas ∆
Project Leader: William Perrie, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Researcher subsampling a box core , Mackenzie  Delta. | Photograph by: Unknown Description: The Arctic Ocean is an important part of coastal life, for both people and animals, in the Canadian North. However, coastal areas are changing, often through the effect of weather on coastal environments. This project is looking at the interaction between weather and ocean processes. Specifically, it looks at how storms, severe weather and the action of waves may affect coastal erosion and sediments. With the climate changing, models to predict how changes in coastal processes will affect coastal terrain are being developed. This will provide important information to communities living on the Arctic coastline.
Location(s): Beaufort Sea; Yukon and Northwest Territories

Project Title: Natural Climate Variability and Forcings in Canadian Arctic and Arctic Ocean *
Project Leader: André Rochon, Université du Québec à Rimouski
Description: Historically, the Earth has experienced great fluctuations in climate over time. Understanding these fluctuations is important for understanding the current and future state of the environment. This project is taking a continental and marine perspective on the evolution of the Arctic climate over the last million years. Multiple climate indicators are being looked at: changes in sea ice, microbiological life forms, geomagnetic field dynamics, sediment cores and historical pollen and spore samples. This work is not only linking together changes in climate, marine and continental systems, but also determining anthropogenic contributions to climate change.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavut; Hudson Bay and Strait

People and Communities

Project Title: Northwest Territories Ice Patch Study ∆
Project Leader: Thomas Andrews, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Caribou occupying small ice patch, Mackenzie Mountains. | Photo: Glen MacKay Description: Ice patches in northern regions can hold an abundance of information about historical environmental and societal change. This project combines archaeology, biology and geology to investigate ancient hunting artifacts and biological samples relating to caribou preserved in alpine ice patches, specifically in the Mackenzie Mountains. Insight into caribou diet and genetics will give a better idea of caribou population dynamics over time, while hunting artifacts will inform about past hunting practices and human use of ice patches. This information, in turn, will help in the development of management strategies for caribou populations in the Northwest Territories and further contribute to the sustained health and cultural well-being of Aboriginal communities that rely on caribou for traditional subsistence activities.
Location(s): Northwest Territories

Project Title: Inuit Sea Ice Use and Occupancy Project (ISIUOP) External Link
Project Leader: Claudio Aporta, Carleton University
Hunters collect ice blocks from iceberg. | Photo: Gita Laidler Description: Conventional maps show terrestrial features in great detail, while bodies of water are outlined and often left “blank”. In the North, hunters and trappers make great use of sea ice to travel, establishing trails and camps, collecting a wide range of knowledge as they go. The aim of this project is to fill in the blanks by providing a snapshot of Inuit knowledge and use of sea ice in the Canadian Arctic, including documentation of variations in sea ice features and hazards, traditional and current ice routes, and Inuktitut placenames and terminology. The information collected is being assembled into a dynamic, multimedia map that will represent spatial information in an audiovisual manner, accessible to Inuit communities and the general public.
Location(s): Nunavik; Nunavut

Project Title: Impacts of Oil and Gas Activity on People in the Arctic (GAPS) External Link
Oil and gas storage facility. | Photograph by: Unknown Project Leader: Dawn Bazely, York University
Description: The Canadian North has recently seen a significant increase in oil and gas exploration and development with more being expected. Oil and gas development in the North is adding pressure to communities’ abilities to cope with other types of change, including climate change. This project is examining Arctic communities and the impacts of oil and gas activity on security, health, traditional livelihoods, economic development and ecosystem change. To accomplish this, a broad range of community-driven grassroots indicators and methods have been developed to assess coping, adaptation and future societal change.
Location(s): Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Yukon

Researcher filleting a fish. | Photo: Unknown Project Title: Integrated Research on Arctic Marine Fat and Lipids ∆
Project Leader: Éric Dewailly, Centre de Recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval
Description: At the same time as Inuit communities are reporting changes in country food use, prevalence of heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are on the rise. This project aims to determine if fatty acids from a traditional diet of marine mammals and fish protect against the onset of predictors of cardiovascular disease and psychological distress. Further, as part of this study the effects of trans-fats from store-bought foods on the risk of atherosclerosis or clogged arteries are also being investigated. Traditional knowledge is being incorporated by examining community perspectives on traditional and contemporary fats and how these perspectives affect diet and lifestyle.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavik; Nunavut


Project Title: Effectiveness of Vaccination against Respiratory Infections for Young Children of the Nunavik Region ∆
Project Leader: Philippe de Wals, Centre de Recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval
Description: In Nunavik, children are admitted to hospitals for pneumonia more frequently than anywhere else in Quebec and it is estimated that one quarter of all children suffer from hearing loss by the age of five. Recently, immunization programs have been introduced to address these issues; however, there has been no formal evaluation of the effectiveness of these programs. This project is analysing the medical records of approximately 3,000 children born in Nunavik between 1994 and 2005 to verify whether vaccination 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: Arctic Peoples, Culture, Resilience and Caribou ∆
Project Leader: Cindy Dickson, Council of Yukon First Nations
Description: Social and ecological change in the North is having an impact on human-environment relationships, leading to questions about how Arctic Aboriginal communities will adapt and cope with these changes. This project is focusing on the important relationship between Arctic people and caribou in communities where caribou is an important food source and cultural feature. The human-caribou relationship and the importance of social networks, traditional knowledge, skills, language, governance and institutional capacity to community resiliency are being investigated in three case study communities to determine community resiliency in the face of change.
Locations: Northwest Territories; Nunavut

Project Title: Inuit Health Survey: Inuit Health in Transition and Resiliency External Link
Project Leader: Grace Egeland, McGill University
Nurse explains clinical research results  to participant | Photograph by: ©Inuit Health Survey 2007-2008 Description: Inuit are concerned about the impact of change on all dimensions of their lives and culture, but especially on their health and well-being. However, there is very little information about the state of health in Arctic communities. Following on the work of a health survey completed in Nunavik in 2004, this project is examining health indicators, such as dietary habits, nutrient status, prevalence and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, social support and other determinants of resiliency, in coastal communities across the Canadian Arctic to provide baseline information against which to measure any future change.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavut

Project Title: Dynamic Inuit Societies in Arctic History ∆
Project Leader: T. Max Friesen, University of Toronto
Researchers unearthing  semi-subterranean house feature, Ikirahak,  Maguse Lake. | Photograph by: Peter Dawson Description: Human societies have traditionally had close ties to their surroundings, especially in the Arctic where the relationship between environmental conditions and cultural/social factors is a complex one. Through collaborations with Inuit community and heritage organizations, this project is investigating how Inuit culture has developed and changed over the past 1,000 years in response to environmental and social change. This is being accomplished through the analysis of Inuit knowledge and the excavation of important archaeological sites. Information is also being collected about the changing Arctic environment in the context of two major events in Inuit history, namely the migration of Inuit from west to east and once established in the east, the diversification of cultural practices.
Location(s): Nunatsiavut; Nunavik; Nunavut

Project Title: Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi Discovery - Expanding our Understanding of the "Long Ago Person Found" ∆
The Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi Robe/Blanket after  Conservation Work. | Photo: Royal   British Columbia Museum Project Leader: Sheila Greer, Champagne and Aishihik First Nation
Description: In 1999, the ancient remains of a young adult Aboriginal male were found eroding out of a receding glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in northern British Columbia. While previous research has confirmed his Aboriginal identity, this project is examining accompanying artifacts and establishing the identity of any living relatives. This work includes analysis of the DNA of animal parts of the artifacts found with these remains to establish the species represented. As well, analysis is being conducted on pigments from the artifacts to determine their source and origin. These analyses will provide great insights into ancient lifestyles and past environmental conditions.
Location(s): Northern British Columbia

Project Title: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Northern Canada ∆
Project Leader: Yang Mao, Public Health Agency of Canada
Description: Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 100 related viruses and can be highly associated with the development of cervical cancer. Aboriginal women have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, yet there is limited information about HPV infection in Northern Canada. To fill this gap in knowledge, this project is examining HPV infection and cervical dysplasia (precancerous cells) in women of the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut to determine general prevalence rates, types of HPV, and risks associated with the development of HPV. The aim is to provide scientific evidence for policy makers and local public health workers to assist in the planning and implementation of cancer control programs.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavut; Yukon

Project Title: Addressing Viral Hepatitis in the Canadian North ∆
Nurse taking blood sample. | Photograph by: G.Y. Minuk Project Leader: Gerald Minuk, University of Manitoba
Description: Research has shown that 3-5% of individuals residing in the Canadian North are infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and likely, if left untreated, 30-40% will develop liver cancer. The aim of this project is to help identify HBV-infected Northern Canadians and to determine why some individuals develop liver cancer and others do not. An educational, computerized Viral Hepatitis database has been developed to help physicians and nurse practitioners in identifying, counselling and treating those infected with HBV. Laboratory data is captured in a Northern Canadian Viral Hepatitis Database to better understand the prevalence and characteristics of HBV across the North.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavut

Project Title: Engaging Communities in the Monitoring of Country Food Safety ∆
Project Leader: Manon Simard, Makivik Corporation
Description: As temperatures warm and habitats change, diseases and parasites will move northward creating threats to the safety of country food. Given this probability, it is increasingly important to monitor and quickly detect parasites in country food. This project has three goals: to document known international and national distribution and abundance of Trichinella and Toxoplasma pathogens and parasites found in Arctic wildlife; to provide regional infrastructure, equipment and training for wildlife sampling, coordinating and diagnosing diseases of related to food safety; and to develop simplified diagnostic tests for parasites of interest. This project is providing basic facilities, training of Northern personnel for future wildlife monitoring and disease diagnostics, as well as increased local knowledge on food safety.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavik; Nunavut

Project Title: Community Adaptation and Vulnerability in the Arctic (CAVIAR) External Link
Project Leader: Barry Smit, University of Guelph
Description: Climate change and its resultant effects are likely to pose significant challenges to communities, but the nature of these challenges and effective ways of dealing with them are poorly understood. To this end, this project is assessing the vulnerability of communities across the Arctic to changing environmental conditions and helping to identify opportunities to enhance adaptive capacities to sustain natural resources, livelihoods and well-being. Through community case studies, this research is drawing on scientific, local and traditional knowledge to identify conditions that contribute to more sustainable northern communities in the circumpolar region.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavut; Yukon.

Project Title: Climatic Change and Inuit History in Arctic Canada ∆
Project Leader: Patricia Sutherland, Canadian Museum of Civilization
Description: The aim of this project is to determine if environmental change and/or historical contacts with other societies have influenced the social and cultural development of Arctic societies over the past 1,000 years. Archaeologists and palaeo-environmental researchers are collaborating by investigating archaeological sites occupied during the period between AD 1000 and 1900, when ancestral Inuit first arrived in eastern Arctic Canada. The sites were selected in order to shed light on the interactions between Inuit, their Tuniit (Dorset culture) predecessors, and early Europeans. At the same time, ponds were sampled to create a picture of local environmental conditions when these sites were occupied, allowing researchers to explore the effects of environmental change on societal development.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Traditional Territory ∆
Project Leader: Allie Winton, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
Description: For most of the past decade, many northern communities have been experiencing the effects of climate change. As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly prevalent across the North, this may change the lifestyles of Aboriginal people who reside there. This project focuses on documenting traditional knowledge as it relates to climate change in the territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. The resulting insights will provide perspective on what Aboriginal people in northern communities value and may help in developing strategies to adapt and cope with a changing environment.
Location(s): Yukon

Project Title: Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Wastewater in Arctic Communities External Link
Project Leader: Brent Wootton, Fleming College
Wetland foliage. | Photograph by: Vicente Santiago Description: Northern communities are growing and finding effective, environmentally-sustainable systems for treating wastewater has become a pressing concern. Conventional wastewater treatment systems do not reliably function well in northern climates and are expensive to build, maintain and staff. Constructed wetland systems for wastewater treatment are an example of progressive technology that, although successful in other areas, are in their infancy in northern regions. This project is surveying current wastewater treatment practices in the North and developing new engineering and technology solutions. Through the Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment at Fleming College, a prototype wetlands design specific to Arctic environmental characteristics and community needs is being developed.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Nunavut

Wildlife

Project Title: Determining the Diet of the Greenland Shark in a Changing Arctic ∆
Project Leader: Aaron Fisk, University of Windsor
The egg of a skate found in stomach of Greenland shark. | Photograph by: Aaron Fisk, University of Windsor Description: As the largest fish and most prolific eater in the Arctic seas, the Greenland shark is a very unique vertebrate in the Arctic ecosystem. Given their diet, Greenland sharks hold a position in the food web similar to that of polar bears. Little is known about how these sharks behave or how their behaviour might shift in response to changes in climate. Given their importance in the Arctic food web, this project is assessing the feeding ecology and behaviour of the Greenland shark under different ice conditions to determine how different environments affect this fish. This assessment is being completed through the use of satellite tracking, chemical tracers, stomach contents and traditional knowledge.
Location(s): Nunavut

Project Title: Effects of Global Warming on Polar Bears, Seals and Whales ∆
Project Leader: Steven Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: A changing climate is affecting the habitat of many species of Arctic wildlife and may lead to shifts within Arctic food webs and ecosystems. This project is monitoring key marine mammals to determine whether this ecosystem is experiencing any change. Of most interest are predator-prey relationships like that of the polar bear and seal. By combining technologies such as satellite telemetry, genetic identification, and computer modelling with traditional knowledge, this work is providing northern communities with necessary information to adapt to a changing marine ecosystem.
Location(s): Hudson Bay.

Project Title: Impact of Climate Change on Tundra Wildlife External Link
Project Leader: Gilles Gauthier, Université Laval
Description: Changes are occurring in the distribution, abundance and behavior of wildlife species that live on the Arctic tundra. How and why these changes are occurring remains unclear. By monitoring the abundance, reproductive success, interactions, habitat use, and diet of mammals, and birds across the Canadian North, this project is evaluating how Arctic biodiversity is changing in response to various pressures like climate change. Species of interest include plants, insects, herbivorous, insectivorous and predatory birds (ex. sandpiper, snow geese, snowy owl, rough-legged hawk) and small mammals (ex. voles, lemmings) and their predators (ex. fox, weasel). Data will be used to predict future climate impacts on wildlife populations through modeling.
Location(s): Manitoba; Nunavut; Yukon

Project Title: Beluga Tagging in the Arctic ∆
Project Leader: Mike Hammill, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Description: Beluga are important to the traditional subsistence culture of the Inuit and can be found in the freshwater estuaries and ice-covered waters of the Eastern Arctic. However, climate change may be affecting the behaviour of these mammals. Using traditional knowledge and satellite telemetry, this project is examining the movement and distribution of beluga whales in Hudson Bay, James Bay and Ungava Bay through the development of community monitoring program.
Location(s): Hudson and James Bay; Nunavik.

Project Title: How Seabirds Can Help Detect Ecosystem Change in the Arctic External Link
Project Leader: William Montevecchi, Memorial University
Researcher banding  chicks. | Photograph by: Jennifer Provencher Description: Due to their far-reaching foraging and migratory routes, seabirds are a strong marker of ecosystem health and change. For this project, researchers are studying seabirds and their food sources (Arctic cod, capelin, lantern fish, crustaceans) to determine influences of High Arctic climate on marine life in Low Arctic ecosystems. Analysis includes seabird diets, reproductive performance and foraging behaviour, as well as measures of the surrounding physical environment. This work is establishing a baseline for assessing the ongoing changes in this region. Through comparisons with previous seabird surveys in the 1970s and 1980s, how seabirds and their related ecosystem have changed over time is also being evaluated.
Location(s): Newfoundland; Nunavut

Project Title: Impacts of Climate Change on Polar Bears External Link
Project Leader: Elizabeth Peacock, Government of Nunavut
Polar Bear climbing rocks, Labrador. | Photo: Dr. Elizabeth Peacock Description: The polar bear is the top predator of the Arctic marine ecosystem. Due to its position in the marine food web, the polar bear is strongly affected by the food it eats. This project is investigating how climate change is affecting polar bear health including: foraging and diet, contaminant levels and Inuit traditional knowledge. Looking at these issues is providing a better understanding of how bears adapt their diets to changing conditions, how contaminants are accumulating across bear populations and how Inuit and northern knowledge can be used in environmental management. By speaking to elders, hunters and other northern residents, what community perspectives on polar bears, climate change and Inuit knowledge is also being surveyed.
Location(s): Manitoba; Nunatsiavut; Nunavik; Nunavut

Project Title: Climate Variability and Change Effects on Chars in the Arctic ∆
Project Leader: James Reist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
The large form of Arctic char, Lake Hazen.  Photo: Jim Reist | Photograph by: © Jim Reist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Description: Arctic char are fundamental to the well-being of Northerners as a traditional food source and economic resource. They are also a key indicator of the health of northern ecosystems. This project is studying Arctic char and the challenges they face in light of impending climate change. With the development of an international network of researchers, char thermal ecology and biodiversity, the significance of char in northern ecosystems, bioaccumulation of mercury and how all these factors respond to climate change is being assessed across the circumpolar North. In Canada, community-based monitoring programs are also being established in Sachs Harbour, Kuujjuaaq and Nain to assess char biodiversity at a local level.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunavik; Nunavut; Nunatsiavut.

Project Title: Monitoring the Impacts of Global Change on Caribou and their Link to Human Communities External Link
Project Leader: Don Russell, Yukon College
Two close up shots of reindeer. | Photograph by: Skarphedinn G. Thorisson Description: Wild reindeer and caribou herds in the Arctic depend on many factors in their physical environment for survival. How they adapt to changes in these factors determines a herd’s resiliency. This project is assessing the well-being of specific herds in the Canadian North in relation to climate change. By looking retrospectively and establishing new intensive monitoring protocols, the general health, body condition, population trends and shifts in habitat of these herds are being assessed. To get a global picture, these data is being compared to other herds across the circumpolar North. Furthermore, many northern communities rely on reindeer and caribou economically, socially and culturally. This project is also investigating these communities’ abilities to sustain traditional caribou harvesting under conditions of change.
Location(s): Northwest Territories; Nunatsiavut; Nunavik; Nunavut; Yukon