Renewed Funding Expands Arctic Climate Change Research

Published on: 2011/11/07 - in Releases

Thanks to an unprecedented funding renewal, Queen’s University-led researchers are expanding their study of how climate change affects the interaction between land and water ecosystems in the High Arctic.

A national team led by Geography professors Scott Lamoureux and Melissa Lafrenière focuses on how climate change affects the flow of water, energy, sediment, nutrients and contaminants – all critical components of both land and aquatic systems – to the downstream Arctic marine environment.

“Our work is tightly integrated, so we can look at the individual processes as a system. Climate drives the system with water and energy, and this cascades down through the land, water and lakes,” says Dr. Lamoureux. “As someone who works on the land and with fresh water, collaborating with the larger ArcticNet research community showed how important it is to bridge the knowledge gap between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.”

Engaging and partnering with Inuit and government organizations, and directing research from the perspective of High Arctic communities, are key parts of the network’s mandate, Dr. Lamoureux notes.

The Queen’s team received $430,000 to continue work at the hydrological observatory they established eight years ago on Melville Island, near the boundary of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. This research site, the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory, is the longest-running comprehensive field program of its kind in the Arctic.

The study is part of the ArcticNet National Centres of Excellence that began in 2003, and is the largest recipient of NCE funding to date. Geography professors Neal Scott and Paul Treitz, and researchers from other Canadian universities and government departments complete the team.

In April 2012, they will present some of their findings at the International Polar Year (IPY) conference in Montreal, called From Research to Action, and chaired by Queen’s Director of Policy Studies Peter Harrison.

“Bringing research to action is a huge challenge, but one that’s important for us to undertake,” says Dr. Lamoureux. “The best way to have scientific findings become part of policy decisions is to engage in discussions and share knowledge in venues such as the ones planned at this conference.”

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Release source: Queen’s University News Centre

Photo caption: Geography students Alison Cassidy and Anthony Bassutti sample water for mercury content at Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory.