Federal scientists who keep a close eye on the Arctic ice cap would like to routinely brief Canadians about extraordinary events unfolding in the North. But newly released federal documents show the Harper government has been thwarting their efforts.
Published: February 4, 2014
There were more than 300 nests in the bird colony when the polar bear arrived.
When it meandered off with a belly full of eggs only 24 nests remained, say scientists who witnessed the “near total” destruction of nests on the bird colony off Baffin Island.
It was far from an isolated event, the team from Environment Canada and Carleton University reported Tuesday. Continue reading
Rybczynski, a paleobiologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, recalls thinking: “This is something kind of off the charts.”
It turns out she had uncovered the remains of the first camel ever found in the High Arctic. Continue reading
Sat Mar 24 2012 Vancouver Sun
By Margaret Munro
Atmospheric scientist Pierre Fogal headed north in February to help check on Earth’s protective ozone layer high in the Arctic stratosphere.
But he spent much of his time on his knees dealing with burst water pipes and frozen sewer lines at Canada’s beleaguered Arctic research station.
Then this week, the electrical system malfunctioned, says Fogal, site manager for PEARL, the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Laboratory at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island.
The station, now limping along at half power and a chilly 10 C inside, is one of the world’s premier observatories for tracking the health of the Arctic atmosphere. The station houses millions of dollars worth of scientific equipment used to monitor the ozone layer, greenhouse gases and pollution swirling around the polar vortex. Continue reading
By Margaret Munro
When biologist Jennifer Provencher headed to the Arctic, she signed on to help assess how seabird diets are changing as temperatures climb in the North.
She never expected to find plastics on the menu. But she and her colleagues at the Canadian Wildlife Service are pulling remarkable amounts of trash from birds in some of the remotest spots on Earth.
Fulmars are strong flyers that skim the surface swallowing tasty tidbits, and 84 per cent of the ones the researchers examined from two Arctic colonies had plastics in their guts. Continue reading
Margaret Munro, Postmedia News
June 25, 2012
The most intense phytoplankton bloom recorded on Earth occurred under the Arctic ice last summer — a finding that has stunned seasoned polar scientists.
“The ice was over a metre thick,” says Kevin Arrigo at Stanford University, leader of the international team that reported Thursday finding the massive bright green algal bloom beneath the ice.
It turns out that first-year polar ice — long considered impenetrable to sunlight — can create ideal conditions for growing phytoplankton, the single-celled plants crucial to the Arctic food chain.
“It’s like the perfect environment,” says Arrigo. Continue reading
Apr 23 2012
By Margaret Munro Postmedia News
Government media minders are being dispatched to an international polar conference in Montreal to monitor and record what Environment Canada scientists say to reporters.
The scientists will present the latest findings on everything from seabirds to Arctic ice, and Environment Canada’s media office plans to intervene when the media approaches the researchers, Postmedia News has learned.
Media instructions, which are being described as a heavy-handed attempt to muzzle and intimidate scientists, have been sent to Environment Canada researchers attending the International Polar Year conference that started on Sunday and runs all week.
“If you are approached by the media, ask them for their business card and tell them that you will get back to them with a time for (an) interview,” the Environment Canada scientists were told by email late last week. Continue reading