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Umiujaq Research Station



Field Station Management

General information:  

The Umiujaq Research Station is owned and run by the Centre d’études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies) whose secretariat is based at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. The station is run in close collaboration with the Northern Village of Umiujaq and Anniturvik LandHolding Corporation.

Location:   The station is in the village of Umiujaq (400-500 inhabitants), situated on the eastern shores of the Hudson Bay in Nunavik, Québec, Canada. It is located next to a pier for easy maritime access.
Owner:   Centre d’études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies)
Institution in charge:   Centre d’études nordiques (CEN: Centre for Northern Studies)
Address:   256 and 257 Hudson Road
PO Box 2243
Umiujaq, Québec, Canada
J0M 1Y0
Opening year:   Since the 1990’s, but house and vehicle garage were built in 2011.
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, lakes, coastline, tundra, tree line, thermokarst lakes , cuestas, permafrost, isostatic uplift, raised beaches, glacial features, landlocked marine species, migrating treeline, deltaic environments.
Climate:   Subarctic
Temperature:   Mean annual temp. -3 °C ; Mean temp. in February -22.4 °C ; Mean temp. in July 12.2 °C.
Winds:   Mean annual wind speed 5.9 m/s ; Max. wind speed 28 m/s ; Dominant wind direction - South.
Precipitations:   Rain and snow ; total annual precipitation 500-600 mm.
Ice breakup:   May or June (year dependent).
Permafrost:   Discontinuous
Altitude:   5 m at the station; 0 m to 400 m in study area
Natural environment:  

The village is located 15 km north of Richmond Gulf (Lac Guillaume-Delisle), an immense inland bay connected to the Hudson Bay via a rocky gulch resembling a canyon. In front of the village are the Nastapoka Islands (cuestas) where many species of birds, such as common loons, eider ducks and peregrine falcons, find summer shelter and nest. The sheltered maritime environment features sporadic black spruce and larch, but the surrounding area is characterized by shrub tundra, discontinuous permafrost (mostly palsa bogs), and thermokarst lakes.

About 30 km north of Umiujaq is the Nastapoka River with its scenic 30 m high falls. The headwater lakes of the river contain a unique population of landlocked freshwater seals and many fish species. A salmon population that does not migrate can be found downstream of the river. The estuary waters are rich in brook trout, white fish, seal, and beluga.

Human dimension:  

Umiujaq was established in 1986 by Inuit from Kuujjuarapik, 160 km to the south, who decided to relocate in the region where they hoped to better preserve their traditional lifestyle in an area where fish and game were not threatened by development. CEN’s research has been conducted here since 1980.

Today, Umiujaq has a population of about 500 inhabitants, mainly Inuit. The people speak Inuktitut and English with some French.



Atmospheric 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 :  

Past and present research has focused on permafrost studies, coastal geology, and geomorphological characterization of the region. Some work on the social dimensions has been conducted over time. Other research topics cover biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems, impacts of thawing permafrost in the context of global warming, wetlands paleoecology; research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow), snow and ice dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions from thermokarst ponds and tundra, sea and lake bottom mapping, plant community dynamics and response of northern plants to climate change.

Archeological studies and community based monitoring activities also take place including Avativut " Science in Nunavik, high school students learning in relation to their territory " (www.cen.ulaval.ca/avativut).

Permits and licensing:  

All research activities must be planned well in advance. Station manager and local authorities must be informed of research activities. Permits are not required to access the station or to conduct research in the area.

Climatic and environmental data:  

CEN has collected extensive climate data since 1997 and still operates four climate stations from the CEN SILA Network (www.cen.ulaval.ca/sila) in the area. Thermistor cables are also installed to monitor permafrost temperature(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. The following data serie is available for this area : CEN 2013. Données environnementales de la région d'Umijuaq au Nunavik, Québec, Canada, v. 1.0 (1997-2012). Nordicana D9, doi: 10.5885/45120SL-067305A53E914AF0. Visit the Website www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad/ to view the complete list of available data.

Infrastructure and Local Services

Infrastructure presentation:  

In previous years, CEN researchers used the adjacent warehouse that had shared ownership (CEN, Anniturvik Landholding Corporation, and Makivik Corporation). In 2010, CEN undertook major station upgrades and restored the warehouse, built a vehicle garage, and a three-bedroom house. The CEN no longer uses the warehouse but space can be leased from Anniturvik Landholding Corporation.

Total area:   60 m2 for the garage.
Number of rooms (beds):   256 Hudson road: Garage
257 Hudson road: House

No staff member is present at the station.

Capacity:   6 visitors at the time.

The house is equipped with partial solar powered electricity, running water (shower and laundry), and oil heating. Garbage collection is frequent; containers are available for this purpose. Recyclables are not locally collected.

Communication :  

A telephone is available in the house (819-331-7227) for local calls. A calling card must be used for all long distance calls. Rental of an internet modem is possible via www.tamaani.ca or at the municipal office for about $60/month. They require a $50 deposit. Once you have the modem, there is a router installed in the house so you can use internet throughout the station. Satellite phones and VHF are available for rent for members from the CEN.

Scientific equipment:  

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, quads and 4x4 trucks can be rented from CEN (read the safety guidines). Fuel is available at the COOP. A 26 foot aluminum Silver Dolphin equipped with bottom mapping will soon be available. Contact the station manager for any other requirements.

Local resources:  

Metal workshop (in town)
Wood workshop (in town)
Plexiglas workshop (in town)
Local guides and translators available for hire.

How to Get There

Access :  

Umiujaq is only accessible by commercial airline (Air Inuit). Maritime transport is available twice a year. Access to the surrounding area is possible via chartered flights (floatplane and helicopter) which can be organized by CEN.

Charter services:  

Nunavik Rotors, Héli-Inter and Whapchiwem offer helicopter services. Air Inuit and Air Creebec offer chartered flights. 

Landing facilities:  

Gravel airstrip of 1174 × 30 m (length × width). Airport is located 2.5 km from the station. Heliport available. Water landing is available. Ship docking facilities include port, landing wharf and pier.

Safety, Medical Services and Insurance

Safety equipment:  

Safety equipment recommended for work outside the village: pepper spray, scaring pistol, communication device, first aid kit and weapon.

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 area.

Medical services:  

Well equipped medical facilities (standard) and staff with basic medical training (2 employees) is found at the CLSC (community hospital). Nearest hospital is in Puvirnituq (45 min. by plane). 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 station and related services are available to all researchers (university, college, governmental and private) working in the area. The station can also accommodate small groups of students.

Availability :  

Calendar of reserations

Cost :  

Rate schedule


On the web:  



Station Manager at Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik
Tel. : 819-929-3319, ext. 227

Phone at the CEN Umiujaq Station: 819-331-7227

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

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