Quebec, the next “world hub” for Arctic research

On the university campus, the Minister of Innovation and Science announced Sunday the granting of $32.5 million to the ArcticNet research group, based at Laval University.

This network of research centers focuses on climate change on the Arctic coasts.

According to François-Philippe Champagne, the Arctic is a favorite research subject for Canada, while geopolitical tensions surround it and the region is hit hard by climate change.

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François-Philippe Champagne, Member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice–Champlain and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. (Maxime Picard/Archives La Tribune)

“The knowledge that we will develop in the north will obviously have applications [chez nous]but possibly also in space,” Minister Champagne also argued, emphasizing that NASA has entrusted Canada with leadership in nutrition and health for the Artemis lunar mission.

Quebec, global hub

The $32 million awarded to ArcticNet comes from the Strategic Science Fund, which allocated a sum of $800 million to 24 organizations across the country.

“It’s quite interesting to see that in the last announcement we made, 800 million in research, Quebec is one of the big winners,” insists Minister Champagne, praising the Capital’s expertise in northern research.

The new Nordic Institute pavilion is currently under construction at Laval University. The Coast Guard scientific vessel, the Amundsen, is also based in Quebec.

According to the federal minister, Quebec City is already positioned among the five major centers for Arctic research, an asset for geo-political issues, he says. The investment announced on Sunday serves in particular to “perpetuate” this expertise.

Victim of climate change

The Arctic region and the Inuit communities who live there are at the forefront of climate change, assure researchers from the ArcticNet network.

“It’s impossible to go to the Arctic and not face climate change. When you’re in the field, it’s something extremely concrete,” says Camille Lavoie, a doctoral researcher in oceanography affiliated with Laval University and ArcticNet.

“I have a contact in Resolute Bay who told me that this year the breakup was in March, but normally it is mid-June. These are things they have never seen in their lives,” she testifies.

For Inuit communities whose way of life is centered around nature, the impacts are phenomenal.

“It changes the seasonality of species, it changes hunting patterns, it changes safety on the ice,” says Camille Lavoie. The environment that they know very well suddenly begins to change. And knowing the territory is absolutely essential to their survival.”

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Camille Lavoie, an oceanography researcher affiliated with ArcticNet, clearly sees the impacts of climate change. (Juliette Nadeau-Besse/Le Soleil)

She herself is interested in the impact of climate change on the biodiversity of the oceans along the coasts. Increasing water temperatures cause a host of changes in algae and fish, she notes.

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