CEN is pleased to financially support three of its co-investigator teams through these three joint project initiatives that will help create synergies within our centre. These three joint projects will be funded for fiscal years 2023 and 2024. Congratulations to these three dynamic teams!
Alexandre Roy (chercheur principal, UQTR), Esther Lévesque (UQTR), Dominique Arseneault (UQAR), Vincent Maire (UQTR) and José Gérin-Lajoie (UQTR)
Marc Amyot (UdeM , GRIL), Olivier Trudel (Parcs Nunavik, ARK) and Isabeau Pratte (Parcs Nunavik, ARK)
Northern regions are particularly sensitive to ecosystem disturbances linked to climate change. Certain disturbances affecting vegetation in particular, such as forest fires, are rare in these treeline regions, but could increase in frequency and scale in the future. On June 8, 2022, Kuururjuaq National Park was the scene of a fire that started in the Koroc River valley, a valley characterized by boreal forest dominated by black spruce that regresses to a shrub-herbaceous tundra domain at the top of the slopes. Interviews conducted with community members shortly after the fire revealed a high level of concern about this phenomenon, which remains an unprecedented event in the community's memory. The multi-faceted project aims to document the conditions that may explain this unprecedented natural disturbance for the locality, to document the state of the burn and compare it to the surrounding intact forest, to monitor the vegetation regeneration of the burn over time, and to assess certain wildlife impacts, particularly the impact of mercury on fish. This project proposes to use this rare natural event to learn more about changing northern ecosystem dynamics, as well as some of the impacts it could have on the Inuit of Kangiqsualujjuaq.
Christophe Kinnard (chercheur principal, UQTR), Florent Dominé (UL) and Vincent Houde (UQTR)
Esther Lévesque (UQTR)
Global warming is leading to an increase in the cover and size of shrubs in the Arctic, a phenomenon known as Arctic shrubbery. Shrubs modify interactions between the atmosphere and permafrost in a number of ways, notably in winter by intercepting wind-blown snow. The preferential accumulation of snow around shrubs promotes the insulation of permafrost and thus its warming, which can accelerate microbial decomposition and the release of greenhouse gases from the soil into the atmosphere. Recent studies have also shown that the branches of shrubs can evacuate heat from the ground in winter, thus counterbalancing the insulating effect of snow cover. Very few spatialized measurements have been collected to examine the interactions between shrubs and snow cover in the tundra. This project aims to fill this knowledge gap by using UAVs to map snowpack thickness and temperature, as well as shrub distribution and structure in tundra shrublands on Bylot Island, Nunavut. These measurements will be coupled with snowpack temperature monitoring inside and outside shrublands, to examine the impact of shrublands on snow and underlying permafrost temperatures. The results will show whether, and how, the spatial distribution of snow cover is affected by the size, structure and distribution of shrubs in the landscape, and whether a warming or cooling effect is detected.
Julien Gigault (chercheur principal, UL), Pierre Legagneux (UL), Gilles Gauthier (UL) and Marie Le Bagousse (UL)
Mélanie Lemire (UL), Catherine-Alexandra Gagnon (UQAR) and Dominique Fauteux (Musée canadien de la nature)
The impact of human activity on ecosystems has been spiralling out of control over the last 20 years, with much greater effects in the polar zones than anywhere else on the planet. By 2020, we have reached the point where the materials we produce now exceed all the biomass created on Earth by all living organisms. This flow of materials is already reaching Arctic ecosystems directly via maritime transport, but above all indirectly via atmospheric and oceanographic currents. Among these anthropogenic materials, one size fraction - nanoparticles - has been largely ignored, even though they could cause far greater damage than their micrometric or millimetric counterparts. Because of their very small size, high diffusivity and large specific surface area, even in the ultra-trace state, these nanometric particles are highly reactive with biota. They are likely to be transported over long distances and increase the bioavailability of a wide range of contaminants within organisms. We propose to explore and document the presence of nanoparticles and associated contaminants in Arctic ecosystems, taking advantage of biological archives (vegetation, bird feathers and eggs) for which we have long time series. The results obtained will be compared with available information on major environmental changes over the last 150 years, enabling us to measure the arrival of these particles in the high Arctic.
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