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Scientific program

Thanks to the financial support of FRQNT's strategic cluster program, CEN has, over the years, consolidated and structured the diversity of expertise of its members along four research axes in order to maximize the scientific benefits of this collective effort. 

 

 
 

Research Area 1 - Innovative research approaches adapted to the North

The understanding of the current state of northern geosystems and ecosystems requires the development and application of new innovative approaches adapted to extreme conditions (e.g., cold, isolation, lack of light in winter). The CEN develops and operates an automated instrumental network to monitor long-term, and often real-time, changes in climate, physical environment and northern biodiversity. CEN researchers are innovating by developing new approaches to environmental monitoring, sample processing techniques as well as robust and efficient data analysis. The application of molecular, biochemical and genetic methods of analysis allows to investigate the living world and in particular the northern microbiomes in a way it has never been done before. New technological tools are used to make knowledge available to users and decision makers and to support participatory science. The integration of these data with innovative analytical methods allows the establishment of a network to monitor the response of northern environments to global changes. In the prospect of sustainable development and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the CEN is testing and evaluating the performance of alternative renewable energy sources and other green technologies for northern infrastructure. This research focus includes four themes.

Project leaders and team: Raymond, Jasmin; Roy, Alexandre; Allard, Michel; Amyot, Marc; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Bernatchez, Pascal; Bernier, Monique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Bhiry, Najat; Boucher, Étienne; Buffin-Bélanger, Thomas; Chokmani, Karem; Comte, Jérôme; Côté, Steeve; Couture, Raoul-Marie; Culley, Alexander; De Lafontaine, Guillaume; Dominé, Florent; Fortier, Richard; Galvez, Rosa; Gauthier, Francis; Gauthier, Gilles; Greer, Charles; Khasa, Damase; Langlois, Alexandre; Larivière, Dominic; Lasserre, Frédéric; Laurion, Isabelle; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Lévesque, Esther; Lovejoy, Connie; Marie, Guillaume; Mercier, Guy; Molson, John; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Ouarda, Taha; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Rodon, Thierry; Royer, Alain; Sonnentag, Oliver; Therrien, René; Villarreal A., Juan Carlos; Vézina, François; Vincent, Warwick F.; Voyer, Normand

 

Theme 1.1: Tools and indicators for monitoring environmental changes

Monitoring and studying environmental changes require access to an instrumented infrastructure and the application of state-of-the-art analytical methods. To meet these needs, the CEN operates the SILA network of automated environmental monitoring stations. This unique network is maintained by a qualified technical staff that ensures a constant technological survey in order to quickly implement new technologies and validate their performance. Through their leadership in projects such as FORSCE and Sentinel North, the CEN members are actively involved in the development of equipment and instrumentation adapted to the unique harsh conditions of cold environments. New technologies for monitoring environmental and surface variables such as the physical properties of snow are also being developed. Emerging measurement technologies (e. g. unmanned aircraft, automated cameras, moorings with automated micro-sensors in lakes, satellite remote sensing coupled with state variable models) are being employed by adapting them to northern conditions in order to improve the research of spatio-temporal changes in terrestrial, coastal and aquatic environments, glaciers and in vegetation and snow cover. The CEN innovates in the study of movement patterns, land use and physiology of wildlife using state-of-the-art terrestrial and satellite telemetry equipment deployed on animals. Furthermore, sophisticated analytical methods are being developed for numerous environmental proxies such as dendrochronological series, lake and peat sediment cores or satellite images.

Project leader and team: Langlois, Alexandre; Allard, Michel; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Bernatchez, Pascal; Bernier, Monique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Boucher, Étienne; Chokmani, Karem; Côté, Steeve; Couture, Raoul-Marie; De Lafontaine, Guillaume; Dominé, Florent; Fortier, Richard; Galvez, Rosa; Gauthier, Francis; Gauthier, Gilles; Kinnard, Christophe; Laurion, Isabelle; Legagneux, Pierre; Ouarda, Taha; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Roy, Alexandre; Royer, Alain; Sonnentag, Oliver; Vincent, Warwick F.; Vézina, François.

 

Theme 1.2: Renewable energies and green technologies

Decreasing the dependency on fossil energies and minimizing the carbon footprint for heating and lighting buildings and infrastructure is a priority for northern communities. However, the North presents particular challenges in this regard due to climate, extreme variations in sunlight hours and thermal insulation. Diesel fuel is transported by boat in a fragile environment where a spill might have irreversible consequences. The CEN members are experimenting and evaluating the performance of alternative energy sources (e.g., geothermal, solar, wind, biomass) for communities as well as for industries, mainly mines, or isolated camps, employing our research stations as test facilities. The researchers intend to use these stations, which are almost all already equipped with solar panels, to test new heating technologies such as geothermal heat pumps. Furthermore, the CEN contributes to the development of engineering concepts appropriate for northern environments, such as underground and seasonal thermal storage of solar energy or increase of energy efficiency of buildings through home automation and construction techniques which are optimized and adapted to arctic conditions. Other examples of green technologies being studied by CEN members in the North include the management of waste as a source of energy when burned, the treatment of effluent and wastewater using decentralized technologies and the decontamination of soil polluted by industrial activities or accidental spills of petroleum products.

Project leader and team: Raymond, Jasmin; Allard, Michel; Amyot, Marc; Couture, Raoul-Marie; Fortier, Richard; Galvez, Rosa; Larivière, Dominic; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Khasa, Damase; Mercier, Guy; Molson, John; Therrien, René; Didier Haillot.

 

Theme 1.3: From biomolecules to nordic microbiomes

Molecular approaches have become essential for quantifying variations in biodiversity and assessing the physiological state of food webs, especially in the microbiome. The application of new molecular, biochemical and genetic analytical methods allows to investigate northern environments from biomolecules to microbes and multicellular organisms to a level that has never been reached before. The use of metagenomics provides a deeper insight not only of the structure of the microbiome but also of its function by identifying metabolic pathways and gene expression of key organisms. Collecting and preserving samples in isolated northern environments, however, presents significant challenges and often requires innovative techniques that are developed and refined with the collaboration of the CEN researchers. They are experimenting in situ the deployment of new biosensors developed in collaboration with Sentinel North which are able to detect the presence of microorganisms in the range of viruses to microbes. The CEN contributes to biotechnology by searching for new molecules unique to northern organisms through bioprospecting while at the same time respecting the knowledge of northern peoples. The CEN is partnering with the National Biodiversity Cryobank of Canada to create a long-term archive of northern environmental microbial samples. Molecular approaches are also being used and refined to better understand plant and animal ecology (e.g., evolutionary ecology of species, genetic structure of populations) and employed as new tools to determine changes in northern ecosystems from the past to the present.

Project leader and team: Culley, Alexander; Amyot, Marc; Antoniades, Dermot; Comte, Jérôme; Côté, Steeve; Couture, Raoul-Marie; de Lafontaine, Guillaume; Greer, Charles; Lovejoy, Connie; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Villarreal A., Juan Carlos; Vincent, Warwick F.; Voyer, Normand.

 

Theme 1.4: Knowledge mobilization and participatory science

The rapid mobilization and sharing of knowledge is a valuable decision-making aid as much for northern communities as for governments and industries. The development of innovative methods of acquisition, sharing, transfer and perpetuation of knowledge allows to make the expertise generated by the CEN accessible and to maximize its benefits. The data are archived and spread to the international community via the Nordicana D, an open access data portal, created and maintained by the CEN. Furthermore, the participation of the CEN in the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability (CCADI) will help to improve the accessibility of these databases. Web portals are also being created to publish information for decision-makers, in particular geotechnical data used for land use planning in the communities. To promote the co-production and sharing of knowledge with northerners as well as the social acceptability of research work, the CEN has established joint scientific committees in the communities where its research stations are located. CEN members organize intergenerational camps, which serve as platforms for exchange between researchers and communities and help to integrate traditional knowledge in many projects. Participatory science is being promoted through the development of technological tools such as smartphone applications adapted to the specificities of the North. These initiatives facilitate the collection of unpublished observations made by northerners in the field and promote the sharing and valorization of this information in a way that respects knowledge of both Indigenous peoples and kowledge holders.

Project leader and team: Lévesque, Esther; Allard, Michel; Bernatchez, Pascal; Bernier, Monique; Bêty, Joël; Buffin-Bélanger, Thomas; Bhiry, Najat; Lasserre, Frédéric; Legagneux, Pierre; Marie, Guillaume; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Raymond, Jasmin; Rodon, Thierry; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Vincent, Warwick F.

 

 
 

Research Area 2 - Functioning and evolution of northern environments

Northern environments have been changing for millennia, but the pace of change is accelerating under current global warming and anthropogenic activities. The research of the CEN aims to specify the rate of these changes at different temporal and spatial scales in order to better assess their magnitude and to determine their consequences on the functioning of continental and coastal northern geo-ecosystems. The mechanisms through which these changes act on different ecosystem components and ultimately on ecosystem services are clarified thanks to the work of the CEN members. The study of feedback processes between system components and the determination of critical thresholds and tipping points between different states of ecosystems and geosystems is at the heart of our concerns. The transformation of the cryosphere (permafrost, lake ice, snow, glaciers) and its cascading effects on hydrology, aquatic and terrestrial food webs as well as the drinking water supply of northern communities are receiving particular attention. Numerical modeling of physical and biological processes supported by solid empirical field data as well as long-term monitoring allow to quantify the consequences of changes and to predict the trajectory of systems in the future. This research focus includes four research themes.

Project leaders and team: Lévesque, Esther; Gauthier, Gilles; Allard, Michel; Amyot, Marc; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Babin, Marcel; Bernier, Monique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Bhiry, Najat; Boucher, Étienne; Boudreau, Stéphane; Buffin- Bélanger, Thomas; Chokmani, Karem; Comte, Jérôme; Couture, Raoul-Marie; Culley, Alexander; Côté, Steeve; De Lafontaine, Guillaume; Dominé, Florent; Fauteux, Dominique; Festa-Bianchet, Marco; Fortier, Daniel; Fortier, Richard; Francus, Pierre; Garneau, Michelle; Gravel, Dominique; Grenon, Martin; Hétu, Bernard; Kinnard, Christophe; Lajeunesse, Patrick; Langlois, Alexandre; Larivière, Dominic; Laurion, Isabelle; Lavoie, Martin; Lecomte, Nicolas; Legagneux, Pierre; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Lessard, Jean-Philippe; Lovejoy, Connie; Molson, John; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Payette, Serge; Pelletier, Fanie; Pienitz, Reinhard; Pilote, Martin; Rautio, Milla; Rochefort, Line; Royer, Alain; Simard, Martin; Sonnentag, Oliver; St-Laurent, Martin-Hugues; Therrien, René; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Villarreal A., Juan Carlos; Vincent, Warwick F.; Vézina, François.

 

Theme 2.1: Paleo-environmental reconstructions and northern landscapes of tomorrow

Predictive models of the impacts of global warming and anthropogenic activities on the dynamics of geo-ecosystems are fed by paleo-environmental studies based on the analysis of various archives. The analysis of geo-indicators (e.g., stratigraphic layers, sediments, geochemistry, stable isotopes) and bio-indicators (e.g., diatoms, invertebrates, fossil pigments, DNA, pollen, tree rings) makes it possible to retrace the processes of transformation of northern landscapes and to reconstruct the history of changes over the past centuries or millennia. On one hand, these reconstructions provide information about the sensitivity of geo-ecosystems to climatic and environmental forcing and to their dynamics and equilibrium over time. On the other hand, studying the interaction of geological surface materials with vegetation, snow and ice cover sheds new light on the geomorphic processes that shape cold environments. Combining paleo-environmental reconstructions with the processes that govern the functioning of geosystems allows to anticipate the future trajectories of these environments and the species that are living in these habitats. Furthermore, it permits to develop adaptation, monitoring and conservation strategies.

Project leader and team: Pienitz, Reinhard; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Bhiry, Najat; Boucher, Étienne; De Lafontaine, Guillaume; Francus, Pierre; Garneau, Michelle; Hétu, Bernard; Lajeunesse, Patrick; Lavoie, Martin; Payette, Serge; Rautio, Milla; Rochefort, Line; Simard, Martin.

 

Theme 2.2: Biogeochemical cycles and food webs in aquatic systems

Climate change is altering the nature and physics of aquatic ecosystems and their connectivity with the terrestrial environment, with major implications for their biological productivity and their microbial, plant and animal biodiversity. These changes also affect the pathway of contaminants (transformation, degradation, trophic transfers), whether they originate from atmospheric deposition or from local anthropogenic sources. The CEN researchers are studying the biogeochemistry of arctic lakes in relation to the acceleration of the hydrological cycle, the reduction of ice cover and the erosion and thawing of permafrost. Thermokarst lakes are of particular interest because they harbor a unique and little-known microbial diversity and are important sources of greenhouse gases. Peatlands are also experiencing significant changes and the net carbon balance of these ecosystems that are likely to produce large quantities of methane is still poorly understood. The response of aquatic ecosystems to climate change as well as climate feedback mechanisms represents a quantified input for global models. The CEN members also study changes in ice cover, hydrological regime and river flow, which control the expansion or contraction of aquatic ecosystems, as well as their effects on wildlife, plants and the inhabitants of the North. Particular attention is paid to the habitat quality, diet and movements of Arctic char, a species vulnerable to these changes and vital to northern peoples. Finally, transfers of freshwater and dissolved matter to the ocean are studied, especially in relation to permafrost thaw.

Project leader and team: Laurion, Isabelle; Amyot, Marc; Antoniades, Dermot; Babin, Marcel; Chokmani, Karem; Comte, Jérôme; Couture, Raoul Marie; Culley, Alexander; Dominé, Florent; Fortier, Daniel; Garneau, Michelle; Kinnard, Christophe; Langlois, Alexandre; Larivière, Dominic; Lovejoy, Connie; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Pienitz, Reinhard; Pilote, Martin; Rautio, Milla; Sonnentag, Oliver; Vincent, Warwick F.

 

Theme 2.3: Transformation of ecological communities and terrestrial food webs

The impacts of global warming on terrestrial ecosystems are significant, either by their direct influence on the physiology of organisms or indirectly through their effects on the physical environment (e.g., snow) and the disturbance regime (e.g., fires). The rapid shrubification of the Arctic is transforming northern landscapes, thus requiring the study of its causes and consequences in relation to nutrient recycling, carbon sequestration, snow cover and the thermal regime of permafrost. The consequences of these changes on large herbivores such as caribou are being studied through long-term monitoring of their populations and those of their predators. These predators exercise major control over the tundra food web. However, this dynamic is sensitive to the presence of migratory species, which in their turn are influenced by the often anthropized environments they are using in winter or by the addition of new species (e.g., moose) whose range is shifting northwards. The CEN members are conducting long-term ecosystem monitoring coupled with studies on species behavior and ecophysiology and are characterizing the connectivity between northern ecosystems and the rest of the world generated by the seasonal movements of species. Thus, it is possible to model the dynamics of food webs on a seasonal basis and to evaluate their sensitivity to disturbances that occur in the North or elsewhere on the planet.

Project leader and team: Côté, Steeve; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Boudreau, Stéphane; Dominé, Florent; Fauteux, Dominique; Festa-Bianchet, Marco; Gauthier, Gilles; Gravel, Dominique; Lecomte, Nicolas; Legagneux, Pierre; Lessard, Jean-Philippe; Lévesque, Esther; Pelletier, Fanie; Rochefort, Line; Simard, Martin; St-Laurent, Martin-Hugues; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Villarreal A., Juan Carlos; Vézina, François.

 

Theme 2.4: Dynamics and evolution of the water cycle and the cryosphere

The study of the water cycle and the cryosphere is fundamental to address several issues of northern communities who are depending on the sustainability of drinking water sources and the accessibility to the territory in order to practice their traditional activities. Surface water used as a source for drinking water is vulnerable to depletion, browning caused by permafrost thaw as well as chemical and microbiological contamination. With global warming, the exploitation of groundwater becomes possible due to the melting of the ground ice which makes this previously frozen water source accessible and because of groundwater flow that gains in importance due to an increase of infiltration. However, the degradation of the main components of the cryosphere, i.e., snow, lake and river ice and permafrost, affects the quality of the resource and the accessibility of the territory. For a better understanding of the feedback loops between climate warming, cryosphere degradation and the water cycle, the CEN members are combining information from the SILA environmental station network with detailed in situ hydrogeological measurements and satellite remote sensing of snow and ice cover to develop a complete surface energy balance. The analysis of the composition of snow, ice and water makes it possible to assess their chemical and biological quality. The quality and vulnerability of the drinking water sources are studied not only at the source but also all along the treatment and distribution chain up to human consumption.

Project leader and team: Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Allard, Michel; Antoniades, Dermot; Bernier, Monique; Buffin-Bélanger, Thomas; Chokmani, Karem; Comte, Jérôme; Dominé, Florent; Fortier, Richard; Grenon, Martin; Kinnard, Christophe; Langlois, Alexandre; Larivière, Dominic; Laurion, Isabelle; Molson, John; Pienitz, Reinhard; Roy, Alexandre; Royer, Alain; Therrien, René.

 

 
 

Research Area 3 - Environmental risk assessment and adaptation strategies

Natural systems, communities and infrastructure in cold environments are exposed to risks associated with environmental changes that affect the integrity and stability of geo-ecosystems, civil security and, for northern peoples, safe access to the land and their traditional food resources. The CEN researchers are assessing the vulnerability of geo-ecosystems, communities and infrastructure (e. g., roads, mines) to permafrost changes, coastal erosion, slope processes and wildfires in order to develop tools and practices for the North. The modes of occurrence of natural and anthropogenic hazards in cold environments are documented and forecasting tools are developed and shared with the aim to directly supply information for decision-making. The work of the CEN contributes to the conservation of natural resources and the development of methods for mitigating and restoring the impacts of resource exploitation in order to minimize their effects and to maintain the integrity of ecosystems and the services they provide. The analysis of the historical practices of Indigenous peoples allows to assess the resilience and adaptation of northern communities to environmental changes and helps in the preservation of their cultural heritage. This research focus includes four themes.

Project leaders and team: Bhiry, Najat; Rochefort, Line; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Bernatchez, Pascal; Bernier, Monique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Boudreau, Stéphane; Buffin Bélanger, Thomas; Chokmani, Karem; Côté, Steeve; Doré, Guy; Doyon, Bernard; Festa-Bianchet, Marco; Fortier, Daniel; Fortier, Richard; Galvez, Rosa; Garneau, Michelle; Gauthier, Francis; Gauthier, Gilles; Grenon, Martin; Hétu, Bernard; Khasa, Damase; Lajeunesse, Patrick; Langlois, Alexandre; Lasserre, Frédéric; Lavoie, Martin; Legagneux, Pierre; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Lévesque, Esther; Marie, Guillaume; Mercier, Guy; Molson, John; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Raymond, Jasmin; Rochefort, Line; Rodon, Thierry; Royer, Alain; Simard, Martin; St-Laurent, Martin-Hugues; Therrien, René; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Vincent, Warwick F.; Woollett, James.

 

Theme 3.1: Modeling of permafrost environments and sustainable infrastructure design

Northern civil infrastructure is increasingly exposed to natural hazards such as thaw subsidence and landslides caused by permafrost degradation. The CEN researchers are documenting the processes at the origin of these natural risks, their rate of progression and recurrence and their impact on the functional capacity of infrastructure. The integrated approach includes numerical simulations of coupled physical phenomena such as heat transfer, groundwater flow and permafrost thaw. These simulations are based on a detailed knowledge of the permafrost physical environment obtained by geomorphological, geotechnical and geophysical surveys and instrumental monitoring in the field. These models help to understand current issues, to make predictive analyses of future impacts and to develop adaptation methods. The aim is to develop effective adaptation strategies that reduce risks to communities and their infrastructure. These studies have already contributed to prevent road and airport deterioration in Nunavik and Nunavut (Iqaluit). They have also enabled Nunavik communities to benefit from development plans that were established according to the specific permafrost conditions, climate predictions and aspirations of each community. This ground-breaking work is now inspiring and guiding the definition of Canadian and Quebec standards for the maintenance of northern transportation infrastructure, for the design of building foundations on permafrost and for the urban planning of communities.

Project leader and team: Doré, Guy; Allard, Michel; Bernier, Monique; Doyon, Bernard; Fortier, Daniel; Fortier, Richard; Langlois, Alexandre; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Mercier, Guy; Molson, John; Raymond, Jasmin; Royer, Alain; Therrien, René.

 

Theme 3.2: Natural and anthropogenic hazards and risk management

Climate change and human activities are increasing the intensity and frequency of several types of natural hazards in cold and northern environments, such as ice jams and floods, shoreline erosion, landslides, coastal storms, avalanches and forest fires. These hazards impact communities and industry and raise concerns of vulnerability and civil security. To address these issues, the CEN researchers are working to identify the factors at the origin of these hazards in order to adequately assess the vulnerability of populations, land-based activities and infrastructure as well as the associated risks. They propose pragmatic solutions based on innovative technologies to secure populations and structure work and also provide decision support tools for land use planning, risk management and forecasting. This research is based on airborne surveys, field observations, the compilation of historical events reported in the media or by traditional knowledge as well as networks of environmental monitoring devices established by CEN members, such as the SILA network. The knowledge of the northern peoples is an essential contribution for this research and redistributed for the benefit of all. At this point, the CEN is working closely with communities, industry and governments.

Project leader and team: Bernatchez, Pascal; Allard, Michel; Arsenault, Dominique; Bernier, Monique; Bhiry, Najat; Buffin-Bélanger, Thomas; Chokmani, Karem; Doré, Guy; Fortier, Richard; Gauthier, Francis; Grenon, Martin; Hétu, Bernard; Lajeunesse, Patrick; Langlois, Alexandre; Lemieux, Jean-Michel; Marie, Guillaume; Mercier, Guy; Molson, John; Therrien, René.

 

Theme 3.3: Responsible management, conservation and restoration of natural resources

Decisions for management, conservation and restoration of natural or degraded environments and wildlife related to the use of natural resource must rely on sound scientific bases to propose sustainable solutions. Through their fieldwork, the CEN researchers improve the knowledge of the ecological richness of the North and thus contribute to better choices for the establishment of protected areas or the management of the environmental impacts of human activities. In addition to maintaining the ecological integrity of the land, protected areas are vital to ensuring the sustainability of ecological services such as the availability and quality of drinking water, traditional food for northern peoples and carbon sequestration in peatlands and forest soils. The research of the CEN also contributes to improving management methods for exploited natural resources (e.g., caribou) and to testing mitigation measures related to their exploitation (e.g., peat, ore). The science of restoration ecology allows the development of new practices adapted to northern climatic conditions in order to rehabilitate sites disturbed or contaminated by human action (e.g., mining and petroleum prospection and exploitation, construction in communities), a practice that generates significant economic benefits.

Project leader and team: Rochefort, Line; Antoniades, Dermot; Bernier, Monique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bêty, Joël; Boudreau, Stéphane; Côté, Steeve; Doré, Guy; Festa-Bianchet, Marco; Galvez, Rosa; Garneau, Michelle; Gauthier, Gilles; Grenon, Martin; Khasa, Damase; Lasserre, Frédéric; Legagneux, Pierre; Lévesque, Esther; Mercier, Guy; Moore, Jean-Sébastien; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Raymond, Jasmin; St-Laurent, Martin-Hugues; Tremblay, Jean-Pierre; Vincent, Warwick F.

 

Theme 3.4: Human-environment relations and cultural heritage at risk

The long history of land use by northern peoples provides a range of inspiring examples of resilience to environmental change and from which lessons can be learned. The research of the CEN aims to identify periods of major transformations and to understand the interaction of environmental, economic and historical factors associated with these transformations. The historical impact of the human presence on the development of landscape and resources is assessed through intersectoral research activities (natural sciences, archaeology and cultural geography) involving several disciplines (including geomorphology, paleoecology, sedimentology, zooarchaeology and archaeobotany). In this context, scientific data are combined with the traditional knowledge of northern communities through a participatory approach. These results support the efforts of the communities to develop concrete practices and tools for the establishment of culturally highly significant sites, which helps to appropriate their history and to strengthen their cultural identity and resilience. Furthermore, the results contribute to the understanding of environmental processes (e.g., coastal erosion, permafrost thawing and shrubification) which provoke the degradation of cultural heritage (archaeological sites) and allow to document the loss of these natural archives. The CEN members are thus involved in the development of methods and programs for the preservation of this collective memory and remediation measures.

Project leader and team: Woollett, James; Bernier, Monique; Bhiry, Najat; Lavoie, Martin; Lévesque, Esther; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rodon, Thierry; Simard, Martin.

 

 
 

Research Area 4 - Northern Gradient Project

The main objective of this research area is to elaborate a transversal and multidisciplinary syntheses from the knowledge accumulated over the past 60 years along the 4000 km latitudinal gradient covered by the Qaujisarvik network of research stations and the SILA network of environmental monitoring stations of the CEN. This transdisciplinary project aims to integrate the results generated by the three other research areas and to enhance longitudinal monitoring by adopting a holistic approach that promotes a global understanding of the functioning of natural systems and environmental risks in a warming context. These two networks, which extend from the boreal forest to the polar desert and which cover a temperature gradient of more than 25°C, provide a worldwide unique laboratory for developing syntheses in order to better anticipate the response of northern landscapes to global warming and to improve the adaptation strategies developed by the Province of Quebec. This research area mobilizes a large number of CEN members around this common goal. Although the results of this research topic are primarily applicable to northern Quebec and eastern Nunavut, they have great potential to lead to major conceptual or practical advances which can be exported to other arctic regions. This research area also offers the possibility of linking with large-scale initiatives such as the Arctic Transects action group within the international initiative Terrestrial Multidisciplinary distributed Observatories for the Study of Arctic Connections (T-MOSAiC).

Project leaders and team: Bêty, Joël; Vincent, Warwick F.; Antoniades, Dermot; Arseneault, Dominique; Berteaux, Dominique; Bhiry, Najat; Boudreau, Stéphane; Comte, Jérôme; Couture, Raoul-Marie; Côté, Steeve; Dominé, Florent; Fortier, Daniel; Gauthier, Gilles; Gravel, Dominique; de Lafontaine, Guillaume; Lajeunesse, Patrick; Langlois, Alexandre; Laurion, Isabelle; Lavoie, Martin; Lecomte, Nicolas; Legagneux, Pierre; Lovejoy, Connie; Lévesque, Esther; Payette, Serge; Pienitz, Reinhard; Rautio, Milla; Roy, Alexandre; Royer, Alain; Simard, Martin; Vézina, François.

 

 
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