The CCGS Amundsen's Arctic Expeditions

Photos and Text by Philippe Bourseiller

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By Philippe Bourseiller

CCGS Amundsen is a Pierre Radisson-class icebreaker and Arctic research vessel operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. Each year the ship sailed to the Canadian Arctic on a series of scientific missions with ArcticNet members.

ArcticNet is a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada that brings together scientists and managers in the natural, human health and social sciences with their partners from Inuit organizations, northern communities, federal and provincial agencies and the private sector to study the impacts of climate change in the coastal Canadian Arctic. Over 145 ArcticNet researchers from 30 Canadian Universities, 8 federal and 11 provincial agencies and departments collaborate with research teams in Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA.

Earth's climate is warming and the increase in average global temperature predicted by climate models will be amplified at Arctic latitudes. In Canada, climate warming will have tremendous environmental, socio-economic and strategic consequences that will be felt first and most severely in Arctic communities and territories. The reduction of coastal sea-ice already hinders traditional hunting by Inuit, reduces the habitat of the unique Arctic fauna, increases exposure of coastal communities to storms and could soon open the way to intercontinental shipping, raising new challenges to Canadian sovereignty and security. In the terrestrial coastal environment, warmer temperatures and permafrost thawing are already disrupting transportation, buildings and other infrastructures.

The central objective of ArcticNet is to contribute to the development and dissemination of the knowledge needed to formulate adaptation strategies and national policies to help Canadians face the impacts and opportunities of climate change and modernization in the Arctic. A major goal of ArcticNet is to engage Inuit organizations, northern communities, universities, research institutes, industry as well as government and international agencies as partners in the scientific process and the steering of the Network. ArcticNet is conducting Integrated Regional Impact Studies on societies and on marine and terrestrial coastal ecosystems in the Canadian High Arctic, in the Eastern Canadian Arctic, and in Hudson Bay. In addition to work conducted in northern communities, ArcticNet researchers from various fields use the Canadian research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen to access the vast expanses of the coastal Arctic. This integrated research offers a unique multi-disciplinary and cross-sectorial environment to train the next generation of specialists, from north and south, needed to manage the Canadian Arctic of tomorrow.

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