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The Polar Blog


How researchers are saving northern runways


Posted by John Bennett on Thursday, June 23, 2016



An Air Inuit De Havilland Twin Otter on the airstrip at Tasiujaq, Nunavik, one of several northern airports where researchers and engineers are modifying runways to help mitigate the damage caused by thawing permafrost. (Photo courtesy Nicolas Perrault III)

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Permafrost, the frozen ground that underlies Canada’s Arctic, is rock-solid — as long as it stays frozen. But with a warming climate that icy layer is changing, which can spell trouble for infrastructure built on permafrost, including airport runways. Canada’s remote Arctic communities depend on aircraft for essential services, from resupply of fresh food to emergency transport to hospital.

Michel Allard, a geographer at Laval University, studies the effects of changing permafrost on runways ...

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What insects are teaching us about the Arctic


Posted by John Bennett on Tuesday, May 24, 2016



The landscape around Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where entomologist Elyssa Cameron conducts her study of Arctic arthropods. (Courtesy Elyssa Cameron​​)

Français

The North’s most iconic wildlife, such as polar bears, caribou and snowy owls, could not survive without the smallest and least familiar of the region’s creatures. And while they’re not well understood, insects and spiders (arthropods) are hugely important, says Arctic entomologist Elyssa Cameron.

“They’re pollinators, carnivores, herbivores and decomposers,” she says. “They keep the ecosystem producing and recycling the nutrients that Arctic plants and animals depend on.” But even basic information ...

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Labrador project combines local knowledge with new technology to make ice travel safer


Posted by John Bennett on Thursday, April 7, 2016



A SmartICE sensor in the sea ice near Nain, Nunatsiavut. (Photo: Trevor Bell)

Français

In Nain, Labrador, a new project is combining the ice expertise of Inuit hunters with sophisticated technology to take some of the guesswork out of ice travel in changing times. It’s also giving young people an opportunity to get involved in science.

For Inuit, the sea ice is a highway, a vital link to hunting areas where they obtain much of their country food. In Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Labrador, people also travel over ice to collect firewood for heating their homes. They use routes ...

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How Canadian ice research is changing how offshore structures are built in the Arctic


Posted by John Bennett on Wednesday, December 23, 2015



A multi-year ice floe, about a half-kilometre in diameter, in Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland (Photo: Michelle Johnston NRC-CNRC)

Français

Arctic sea ice is unforgiving. It can break apart suddenly, leaving you stranded on a floe. It can crush a conventional ship like an eggshell. And it can wreak havoc on a poorly designed offshore structure.

But as the climate warms, there is less Arctic sea ice. Does this mean the North is becoming an easier place to operate offshore exploration rigs and perhaps wind turbines or tidal power generators? According to Michelle Johnston, a Research Council Officer with the National Research Council, ...

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How could a warming Arctic affect bowhead whales?


Posted by John Bennett on Thursday, October 15, 2015



Marine biologist Corinne Pomerleau is working with Inuit hunters and Greenland researchers to help determine how bowhead whales in Canada's eastern Arctic will be affected by a warming climate. (Photo courtesy Mads Peter Heide Jorgensen)

Français

A century after the whaling industry hunted them nearly to extinction, bowhead whales are once again flourishing in the Canadian Arctic. But a new challenge has emerged to test the resilience of these graceful giants: climate change. How will a warming Arctic affect the icy environment the bowheads depend on, and how will they cope? Corinne Pomerleau, a postdoctoral fellow in marine biology at the University of Manitoba, is determined to find out.

Pomerleau is analyzing tissue samples ...

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