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CEN Wiyâshâkimî Lake (Clearwater Lake) Station



Field Station Management

General information:  

The CEN Clearwater Lake Research Station is legally owned by the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), but is operated by the Centre d’études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies) through a long term lease. This station is part of the CEN Network, more precisely the Qaujisarvik Network of stations and is part of a provincial park that is co-managed by KRG and the government of Québec (Tursujuq National Park).

Location:   Situated in Nunavik on the shores of Clearwater Lake (Lac à l’Eau Claire, 56°20’ N, 74°26’ W), the station is about 125 km inland from the eastern coast of Hudson Bay. Umiujaq (<400 inhabitants) is located at a distance of 135 km
Owner:   Kativik Regional Government (KRG)
Institution in charge:   CEN at Université Laval
Opening year:   2005
Operational period:   Year round
Station networks:  

Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators

INTERACT - International network for terrestrial research and monitoring in the arctic


Keywords:   Mountain , valley , shoreline , tundra , treeline , thermokarst lakes , permafrost , raised beaches , glacial features , land-locked marine species , migrating treeline , crater lake , lake , tundra , riparian vegetation , taïga
Climate:   Subarctic
Temperature:   Mean annual temp. -3 °C ; Mean temp. in February -22.4 °C ; Mean temp. in July 11.8 °C
Winds:   Mean annual wind speed 5.9 m/s ; Max. wind speed 28.26 m/s ; Dominant wind direction - South
Precipitations:   Rain and snow ; total annual precipitation 500-600 mm
Ice breakup:   June (year dependent)
Permafrost:   Discontinuous
Altitude:   224 m at the station ; 215 m to 400 m in study area
Natural environment:  

Clearwater Lake is the second largest natural lake of the province of Québec (2243 km2). It sits at an altitude of 240 m, the limit reached by the postglacial sea, and drains into Hudson Bay via Clearwater River (Rivière à l’ Eau-Claire) with a maximum outflow rate of 150 m3/s. The lake features two adjacent, circular basins (26 and 36 km in diameter) that were created by a meteoritic impact about 290 ± 20 million years ago (Permian Age). Even though vascular plant diversity is low on regional granite gneisses, the volcanic breccias (clastic-textured extrusive igneous rocks) situated on the islands of the western basin (11 islands forming a circle) are populated by 250 vascular species, 15 % of which are specific to the shores. Avifauna is abundant and the islands constitute an enclave for shrub tundra in an area that is rather characterized by forest tundra.

Human dimension:  

Clearwater Lake is situated within the boundaries of a provincial park and on aboriginal land. First Nations people, the Cree, still use the land extensively for hunting and fishing, especially during spring and autumn. There are no permanent settlements around the station, the closest village Umiujaq is about 135 km west on the shores of Hudson Bay. Access to the station is organised by CEN from the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Station.



Atmospheric science, chemistry and physics, isotopic chemistry, climatology, climate change, environmental science, pollution, geology and sedimentology, geophysics, glaciology, soil science, mapping gis, oceanography and fisheries, microbiology, hydrology, terrestrial biology, ecology, paleoecology, paleolimnology, limnology.

Current research :  

Topics which are studied at the station include the following (but are not exclusive to these): ecological dynamics of shoreline vegetation, influence of large subarctic lakes and changes in their water levels, climate change impacts on subarctic lakes and archaeology.

Past research:  

Past research has focused on regional ecosystem dynamics, specifically on the response of the forest to disturbances such as fire and insect outbreaks, tree ring analysis, vegetation and biodiversity, periglacial processes, secular variations in water levels, and hydrology. Other research topics have covered limnology of the two basins, geological and geomorphological history, and biophysical features of the area. Wildlife studies (birds, caribou, small mammals, fish, and biting insects) have also been conducted, as well as archeological studies (recently)

Permits and licensing:  

Agreements with officials at Nunavik Parks and CEN are required. Before submitting their research proposals, researchers are invited to consult Scientific Research in Nunavik’s National Parks: A Researcher’s Guide&nbsp;published on&nbsp;www.nunavikparks.ca/en/parks/research-request/index.htm.

Climatic and environmental data:  

CEN has been measuring climate in the area since 1995 and currently operates three meteorological stations from the SILA Network in and around the western basin of the lake. A climate station, in operation since 1986, is located on a small island in the centre of the basin and two other stations are located around the lake (measured environmental variables).

Nordicana D:  

CEN's Nordicana-D series freely and openly give access to online climatic and environmental data reports archived at CEN, aiding the management of the wealth of environmental data sets produced by CEN's monitoring and research activities. Visit the Website www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad/ to view the complete list of available data.

Infrastructure and Local Services

Infrastructure presentation:  

CEN research has been conducted here since 1980, but the station buildings are recent, built in 2000 and upgraded in 2011. The buildings were originally built by outfitters, but have been considerably upgraded by the CEN. The station holds four buildings that can accommodate nine people. They are equipped with solar-powered electricity, running water, dry toilettes, oil heating, and include one laboratory. 

Total area:   The total available area is 50 m2 including 25 m2 for scientific laboratories.
Number of rooms (beds):   A total of 4 rooms (11 beds) are available.

No staff member is present at the station.

Capacity:   9-11 visitors at the time.

Showers and laundry facilities are available. The station is equipped with solar-powered electricity, running water, dry toilettes, oil heating, and includes one laboratory. Waste must be sorted and evacuated as soon as possible to Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik. Human waste is buried onsite (dry toilet).

Communication :  

Satellite phones and VHF are available for rent through CEN.

Scientific equipment:  

Laboratory is equipped with stainless steel counter. WHMIS training or equivalent is required to use the lab. Chemical storage is not authorized. All products must be brought back after use.

Vehicles :  

Snowmobiles in winter. Zodiac-style boats and 24 foot freighter can be rented for water transportation. Contact the Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik research station manager (station@cen.ulaval.ca or cen@cen.ulaval.ca) for fuel or to make prior arrangements.

Local resources:  

Guides are available for hire.

How to Get There

Access :  

Clearwater Lake is an isolated station in a provincial park; therefore all research activities must be proposed and planned in advance. The station is accessible year-round by chartered helicopter or floatplane and by Twin Otter in winter.

Charter services:  

Nunavik Rotors, Héli-Inter and Whapchiwem offer helicopter services.
Air Inuit and Air Creebec offer air charters.
Airport is located 30 km south of the field station.

Landing facilities:  

About 10 km to the southeast, there is a natural airstrip of sand (600 x 400) maintained by Air Inuit. However, a river separates the station from the airstrip. Lake landing is available. Helicopter lands on level ground.

Safety, Medical Services and Insurance

Safety equipment:  

Safety equipment recommended to conduct field research in the area: pepper spray, scaring pistol, communication device, first aid kit, weapon (strongly recommended. High degree of self-sufficiency is expected.

Insurance :  

It is the responsibility of the user of the station to ensure that he or she has the necessary insurance to complete his or her research. The CSST provides insurance coverage to employees or student employees only for accidents at work. In all other cases, personal insurance must cover victims for accidents and evacuation. It is therefore essential to have adequate coverage in terms of activity and destination. Quebec Health Insurance is valid in the Umiujaq area. Note that no agreement exists with the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, even if these areas are located in Canada.

Medical services:  

There are no medical facilities at Clearwater Lake. Nearest medical facilities are in Puvirnituq. Heli lifted out to Umiujaq and then 45 min. to Puvirnituq by plane (1-2 hours in total). Transportation time depends on airborne services availability and weather conditions. The station is not equipped with compulsory safety equipment.

Airborne medical emergency:  

Air medic offers individual, family, and temporary protection plan to obtain emergency medical or airborne services on 100% of the Quebec territory.

Reservation and Fees

Reservation presentation:  

The research station is available to all researchers (university, college, governmental and private) conducting research in the area. The station can also accommodate small groups of students wishing to undertake training in the North. 

Availability :  

Reservations calendar

Cost :  

Rate schedule


On the web:  



Catherine Noiseux
Associate Director, Renewable resources, lands, environment and parks
Kativik Regional  Government

Isabeau Pratte
Conservation and Education Specialist
Kativik Regional  Government

Kativik Regional Government
Nunavik Parks
C.P. 9
Quebec, Canada
J0M 1C0
Tel : 819 964-2961
Sans frais : 1 877 964-2961 

Centre d'études nordiques
Pavillon Abitibi-Price
2405, rue de la Terrasse
Université Laval
Québec (Québec)
Canada, G1V 0A6
Tel.: 418 656-3340

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