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Pancanadian initiative on research into permafrost

Quebec City, September 9, 2011 – Université Laval has announced the kick-off of a major Canada-wide research project entitled Arctic Development and Adaptation to Permafrost in Transition (ADAPT). The project has a $4 million budget spread out over four years thanks to a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It will be led by research professor Warwick F. Vincent.

The objectives of the ADAPT project are to identify the impacts of rapid environmental changes underway in the North caused by thawing permafrost and to collect the information required to develop an adaptation strategy. The team will study the changing permafrost and snow conditions affecting the landscape, water, and wildlife of the tundra as well as their impact on northern communities and industries exploiting natural resources.

Under the guidance of research professor Warwick F. Vincent, Director of the Center for Northern Studies (CEN) and Chairholder of the Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Studies at Université Laval, the research team will be composed of 15 experts in engineering and natural and applied sciences from 10 Canadian universities. They will work with a large number of collaborators from a variety of organizations from across Canada and countries around the world, including France, the United States, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. The research sites are spread out over a vast area of northern Canada—Yukon, Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, both shores of Hudson’s Bay, Nunavik, and Nunatsiavut.

Ultimately, the team wants to create a reference for the arctic land system in response to the critical changes taking place in Canada’s environment. “One of the undeniable strengths of our research group is the concerted effort of expert scientists with extensive research experience in different aspect of the North, including geomorphology, civil engineering, geophysics, modeling, hydrology, biogeochemistry, paleoclimatology, plant and animal ecology, and microbiology,” states Professor Vincent.

"Our government recognizes how critical science is to improving the quality of life of Canadians and building a stronger economy," said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry.  "Canada’s North possesses tremendous natural resource wealth and a growing economy. The provisions we announced in Budget 2011—including spending on infrastructure, education, research and clean energy—reflect the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to this vital region of the country .”
ADAPT is the first project to be carried out thanks to a Discovery Frontiers grant offered as part of the NSERC Frontiers initiative. This initiative addresses national research priorities and global challenges by supporting a small number of major new transformative and integrative activities.  “The Discovery Frontiers initiative allows us to focus substantial funding on a specific national research priority,” said Dr. Fortier. “This particular grant will help a team of Canada’s world-class northern researchers collaborate with their international counterparts to study environmental changes that have a dramatic impact on the North and affect the whole country.”


Sylvain Gagné
Media Relations
Communications Division
Université Laval

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