SILA Network


The creation of the SILA Network (meaning climate in Inuktitut), a northern network of climate and environmental observatories, was made possible in part by the Programme d'appui au financement d'infrastructures of the Ministère de la RechercheScience et de la Technologie du Québec.

The general objective of the network is to characterize, quantify and evaluate environmental change in eight bioclimatic zones distributed across Northern Quebec and the eastern Canadian Arctic. The SILA Network comprises 100 automated stations acquiring data on a variety of environmental variables. The eight sites have been chosen based on the environmental issues of each of the bioclimatic zones. These sites aredistributed along a North-South transect, from the Boreal forest to the High Arctic. In each region, these experimental and instrumental sites represent a reference site for a wide variety of research programs.


Here are the descriptions of the 8 sites from south to north:


1. Charlevoix Observatory


This observatory is located in the area of the Grands-Jardins Provincial Park and comprises 2 automated stations. A reference station towering at 10 meters is located in a lichen-spruce woodland near the Malbaie River. This station is equipped with dendrometers and instruments measuring atmospheric parameters. The other station is located within the Grands-Jardins Park on top of the Mont du Lac des Cygnes where permafrost is found. This is the southernmost occurrence of permafrost in Quebec.


2. Radisson Observatory


This observatory is located in the Radisson region (LG2), with a few satellite stations linked by telemetry in a 300 km radius within the La Grande complex. The central post in Radisson connects the five climatological stations owned by the CEN and distributed around the LG2 reservoir. The observatory has the following two objectives: 1) Evaluate the combination of factors affecting forest productivity in the context of climate change, and 2) Improve the capacity of measuring water supply by taking into account the hydrological cycle in the different ecosystems (soils, forests and peatlands) and the seasonal hydrological cycle. This observatory includes dendrometers and piezometers.


3. Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Observatory


This observatory plays a central role in the SILA network. The CEN's research station in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is the main research facility in northern Quebec. On site, there is a monitoring of standard climatological variables, of ozone and mercury levels in the atmosphere and in precipitation (for Environment Canada and INRS-ETE) and of solar radiation (for the international NASA project called AERONET). The addition of measuring stations for ultraviolet radiation and water levels makes the observatory a world reference for measurement of UV radiation and its impacts on the different ecosystems via the hydrological cycle.


4. Lakes Guillaume-Delisle and à-l'Eau-Claire Observatory


Future site of a northern provincial park, the region of the lakes Guillaume-Delisle and à-l'Eau-Claire has been the subject of several projects at the CEN over the past 30 years. Instruments for monitoring coastal permafrost are operational in the region of the lake Guillaume-Delisle (collaboration with the German government). The region of the lake à-l'Eau-Claire is particularly rich in biodiversity, ecosystems representative of more northern sites are found there. A climatological station is located on one of the central islands of the lake. The instrumentation aim to determine the impacts of climate change on the regional snow regime, to monitor lake limnological conditions on a long-term basis and to measure the contribution of local factors to the development and preservation of biodiversity.


5. Boniface River Observatory


The Boniface River is located at the tree line. CEN research work at this site focuses on the long-term dynamism of the various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Five climatological stations monitor conditions at tree line such as climatological contrasts (air and soil) between tundra and forest patches. The creation of this observatory has permitted to add and automate instruments and have access to the data via satellite. The objective is to position the research conducted at this site within international networks such as that of the IASC (International Arctic Science Committee) on the circumpolar Taiga-Tundra Interface.


6. Salluit Observatory


The Salluit community is located at the northernmost limit of Quebec in a little-studied bioclimatic zone. Some impacts of climate warming have already been detected in this region. The objective of the observatory is to characterize, quantify and categorize the potential effects of climate change in the continuous permafrost zone. Automated thermistor cables are in place as well as 6 climatological stations. A visual monitoring system for ice and snow is planned since these are fundamental variables in environmental change.


7. Bylot Island Observatory


Bylot Island (73° N et 80° W) is located north of Baffin Island in Nunavut within the Sirmilik National Park. CEN's researchers have studied this site for a long time because the south plain of the island is one of the main nesting areas for Greater Snow Geese. Seven climatological stations are in operation on the island, they are the second northernmost stations of the CEN's network (after those located on Ward Hunt Island). The site is included in research networks such as EMAN-North (Northern Ecological Assessment and Monitoring Network) and ITEX (International Tundra EXperiment). The objective of this observatory is to provide a comparison point for the other stations of the CEN's network. The instrumentation in place aim to evaluate the local variability in climate conditions. This will allow the CEN to discriminate if regional differences or local microclimate effects cause the differences observed with the other stations of the CEN's network.


8. Ward Hunt Island Observatory


This observatory is the northernmost of the continent; it is located at the extreme northern end of Canada at 83° latitude north and 74° longitude west. The main station is located on Ward Hunt Island at the mouth of the Disraeli Fjord within the Quttinirpaaq National Park. Data obtained from this station are used for studies on microorganisms (extremophiles) living on the 3000 years old ice shelves. Another station is located on the continent near Lake A and provides complementary data that is used for the limnological studies done in the area.




Contact : Denis Sarrazin


Room 1210
Abitibi-Price building
Université Laval
2405 rue de la Terrasse
Québec, Canada
G1V 0A6

Phone : (418) 656-2131 ext. 4299