L’Observatoire Maritime Churchill: un centre de recherche sur la fonte des glaces marines – premièr en son genre dans le domaine de l’Arctique circumpolaire!

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One of the most significant global issues of our time is the rapid and ubiquitous change in the Arctic regions of our planet. The world has turned its attention to the Arctic, largely because of a rapidly changing climate; its expected global impact; economic potential of the region; and the inherent geopolitical implications. The opening of the Arctic Ocean is creating both opportunities and vulnerabilities, complicated by the concomitant effects of global climate change.

The Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) serves as the focal point for the University of Manitoba (UM) Arctic marine research group and is located within the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of the Environment, Earth and Resources (CHRFEER), Winnipeg, Canada. The University has sponsored growth in CEOS from a staff of 1.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) at its inception in 1994, to 77 FTE staff and 65 graduate students in 2016, all working as a highly integrated team examining multidisciplinary aspects of the Arctic marine system.

UM has incubated, with other Canadian universities, private sector partners, and federal, provincial, territorial and international governments, strong national (e.g., ArcticNet) and international partnerships (Arctic Science Partnership) and networks, supporting a remarkable breadth, depth and integration to our Arctic research programs. At UM these networks cluster around UM’s Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Arctic Geomicrobiology and Climate Change, two fully integrated Canada Research Chairs in Arctic sciences (CRCs), 17 tenure track faculty, and over 125 HQP. CEOS is central to the UM strategic priorities as the Arctic System Science and Technology “Established Signature Area of Research” and is one of the largest and most influential Arctic marine research groups in the world.

The UM team was recently successful in a major ($31.8M) Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) application to develop the Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO) – a globally unique, multidisciplinary research facility located in Churchill Manitoba, adjacent to Canada’s only Arctic deep-water port. This highly innovative facility will include 2 saltwater sub-pools designed to investigate oil and other marine transportation-related contaminant spills in sea ice; an environmental observing system consisting of 5 high-tech moorings installed onto the ocean floor to monitor physical and biological variables along the Churchill Marine Corridor; and a logistics base to support all CMO research.

CMO is a national facility, serving international needs and gathering over 170 researchers from six Canadian universities (Victoria, Calgary, Manitoba, Laval, Dalhousie and Rimouski), three international ASP partners (Aarhus University, Denmark; Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk, University of Tromsø, Norway); the University of Washington, USA; ten government departments and ten private sector partners, focusing research around three core scientific themes: i) detection, ii) impact, and iii) mitigation of oil and other transportation related contaminant spills in sea ice.  This unique mesocosm facility is available to researchers who are interested in collaborative research at CMO. It is also available for rental.


The Churchill Marine Observatory will provide Arctic scientists with unprecedented access to a true Arctic mesocosm purpose-built to study oil spills and other transportation related contaminants in sea ice. This knowledge will be essential to guide policy required for the sustainable development and marine transportation in the Arctic”. Dr. David G. Barber, PI:CMO, Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Sciences, UofM.

There is a need for development of new technologies and innovation to improve understanding, enhance observational data, and reduce logistical costs and environmental impacts in sensitive Polar Regions. The Churchill Marine Observatory will provide an important test facility for a variety of new sensors and technologies prior to deployment in remote arctic areas.” Dr. Soeren Rygaard, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Geomicrobiology and Climate Change, UofM

The Churchill Marine observatory project will provide an exceptional opportunity to bring the Canadian and European researchers together to facilitate knowledge exchange, coordinate research priorities and logistical support, and explore joint HQP training in this urgently needed area of research and technological development.”  Dr. Kirsten Jørgensen, Lead Scientist, European Horizon 2020 consortium GRACE (InteGRated oil spill response ACtions and Environmental effects), SYKE, Helsinki, Finland

Learn more about the Churchill Marine Observatory, the Canada Excellence Research Chair and Arctic Science Partnership.