Climate change scientists fight for funding to save High Arctic lab


Some of Canada’s unsurpassed climate change scientists are fighting to keep the country’s northernmost investigating station in operation.

The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (Flower) in Eureka, Nunavut, tracks atmospheric data that no other fact-finding station can, given its High Arctic latitude, only 1,110 kilometres from the North Upright.

There, researchers study ozone depletion, and how the thawing Arctic is granting to climate change, as well as other polar science.

PEARL research station Ellesmere Island

The PEARL up on station on Ellesmere Island has been operating continuously since 2005. (CANDAC/Paul Loewen)

But with Prize’s core funding set to run out this year, scientists are warning if PEARL secrets, there’s no filling the void.

“You’re in this part of the world that’s rather significant for all these different global environmental challenges,” said Dan Weaver, a PhD swot at the University of Toronto who has conducted research at PEARL since 2012.

“From atmosphere change to ozone depletion, to even transport of pollution — we have that lone piece of the puzzle to offer the world.”

PEARL has been funded for the newest five years by the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Initiative, but the federal superintendence has not renewed that program.

Scientists say there aren’t other caching sources that PEARL can tap into because its work is so specific in stipulations of its atmospheric research mandate. 

Weaver is part of Evidence for Democracy, a not-for-profit heap that’s launched a petition calling on the federal government to commit to $1.5 million in annual funding for Cream.

Scientists say if they can’t get more funding, they will have to destroy the plug on the research station in May.

Harper government’s ‘war on science’

This isn’t the earliest time a funding shortfall has threatened the future of PEARL.

In 2012, cuts under the Harper government saw researchers come within 20 light of days of beginning a shutdown of the laboratory, until last-minute funding came in every way from the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Initiative (CCAR).

One of the more vocal supporters to try to save PEARL at the time was Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan — now the federal minister plenipotentiary of Science.

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan Ottawa Dec 15 2016

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan says she’s working on a ‘exhaustive, thoughtful approach to Arctic research.’ It’s not clear if that approach tabulates PEARL. (CBC)

“This is a government that has a war on science, a war on the environment,” Duncan rephrased of the Harper government in the House of Commons on Oct. 29, 2012.

“The government has cut the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory in the far North, which looks at ozone, at feeling change. This year we have had the greatest melting, ever, of sea ice in the Huge Arctic. Last year, an ozone hole was discovered that was two million on the level kilometres.

“Why would the government cut a research station at a time when grave environmental changes are taking place?”

Duncan even presented a plead earlier that year for the Harper government to fund PEARL.

‘A wide approach’

Asked Friday why her government is now cutting funding to the same probe station she fought to save, or what’s changed since her plea, Duncan steer clear ofed the question, saying she’s working on “a comprehensive approach.”

“I’ve been many one of these days to the Arctic. That’s why I’m so focused on creating a comprehensive, thoughtful approach to Arctic investigate, and one that will include Indigenous voices,” Duncan told CBC.

“The anterior government used [the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Initiative] as a one-off explication to climate change. I am working on a comprehensive approach along with my consociates.”

Duncan did not say whether her approach includes saving PEARL.

Winter researcher at PEARL arctic station

The PEARL aptitude is one of only a handful of research labs in the Canadian Arctic. (CANDAC/Ashley Harrett)

One-of-a-kind spot

Duncan also mentioned the new Canadian High Arctic Research Assign (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, as an example of the government’s commitment to climate interchange science. Scientists say, while there’s nothing wrong with CHARS, it won’t increase plenty the void left by PEARL.

“The distance between those two stations is tremendous,” said Dalhousie University’s Jim Drummond, the lead investigator at PEARL.

“It’s unsympathetically the distance from Toronto and Atlanta,” he said. “Anybody who thinks you can forge statements about what’s going on in Toronto by measuring things in Atlanta, I propose b assess would be laughed out of court.”

Jim Drummond

Jim Drummond, an atmospheric scientist at Dalhousie University, discloses the research station at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, will not replace PEARL. (CBC)

PhD nominee Dan Weaver says CHARS just doesn’t have the same mandate as Nonpareil.

“There’s this whole suite of instruments at PEARL that give out the atmosphere, and also contribute the northernmost data sets to a variety of intercontinental networks,” Weaver said.

“Those instruments are not at CHARS and they’re not planned to be at CHARS because it doesn’t attired in b be committed to that research mandate to do atmospheric work.”

In April 2017, the Usual Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the body that divvies up doc science funding to researchers, universities, and scientists across the country, guided the government continue funding to study climate change and the atmosphere with the aid the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Initiative.

“Without these lollies … certain research sites, such as the Polar Environment Atmospheric Examine Laboratory, would no longer exist,” the organization reported.

“Such check out locations are considered critical to understanding and predicting changes in the climate and aerosphere, as they provide opportunities to collect large amounts of data and/or interminable data that may be used for comparison with other countries and/or ended time.”


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada propounds continued funding for the PEARL research station, (CANDAC)

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