CEN Bulletin 19
December 2018
The CEN Bulletin is written for CEN members and the scientific community and others interested in northern environmental research. The material provided showcases the work of its members and aims to disseminate information on CEN activities.

The CEN management team wishes you all the best in this New Year. May 2019 be full of discoveries, science, snow, ice and wonderful encounters!
Science Highlight
Effect of Environnemental Changes on Functional Plants Traits in the Warming Tundra

New perspectives on changes in plant communities of the tundra throughout the circumpolar world have been brought to light thanks to the sharing of data from dozens of study sites. CEN researchers Esther Levesque and Jean-Pierre Tremblay, and members of their teams, have joined forces with more than 100 researchers from many countries to better understand the effect of environmental factors on vegetation structure and function, and have examined the consequences of rapid environmental change in the Arctic on ecosystem function.


The large team of researchers published the results of this important study in the prestigious journal Nature in the fall of 2018. Plant traits have significant effects on the carbon cycle and the energy balance of ecosystems, which in turn can affect regional and global climate. It is therefore critical to quantify the relation between environmental factors and plant functional traits, yet studies on this subject rarely extend to the tundra biome. This study explored this theme at a spatial scale covering the entire tundra biome (at 117 sites) over a temporal scale of more than 3 decades. The data revealed that, although the relations between temperature and traits are generally strong, soil moisture content greatly influences the strength and direction of these relationships, highlighting the potential importance of water availability on future change. The size of plant communities has increased at all sites studied, however, other traits show less change than initially predicted. The results of this unique study reveal the extent to which environmental factors affect biotic communities in the world's most extreme cold environments and the resulting data will contribute to models predicting the effects of climate change on tundra ecosystems.

Photo:   Silene acaulis. Credit - S. Angers-Blondin/CEN
A New Database on Ground Freeze/Thaw Cycles
Alain Royer, Professor, U. of Sherbrooke

Michaël Prince, a CEN’s student member, has just completed a Master’s degree at the Université de Sherbrooke (Department of Applied Geomatics - CARTEL). He has published a new database of monitoring of freeze/thaw cycles using ground-based data coupled with microwave satellite observations. In the context of global warming in the North, variations in freeze-up and thaw periods are an important issue since they have multiple impacts on ecosystem dynamics, carbon fluxes, soil biogeochemical activity, hydrology, and permafrost dynamics. This database is available in the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) website in Colorado (Aquarius L3 Weekly Polar-Gridded Landscape Freeze/Thaw Data, Version 5). It covers a period of 3.7 years of life of Aquarius satellite from 2011 to 2014 across high latitudes in excess of 50 °N of the Northern Hemisphere.
Along with this Aquarius database at low frequency (L,1.4 GHz band), Michaël has published a paper describing this database and compared it with a NASA freeze/thaw product (Freeze/Thaw) generated with higher frequency microwave data (SSM/I at 37 GHz: Resampled 37GHz FT Earth Science Data Record, FT-ESDR). Such a comparison, which has never been made before, highlights differences in the fall frost and spring melt cycles attributed to different emission processes at different frequencies. This Master’s degree was co-directed by CEN members Alexandre Roy (now at UQTR), Alain Royer and Alexandre Langlois at the Université de Sherbrooke.


Prince, M., Roy, A., Brucker, L., Royer, A., Kim, Y., and Zhao, T. (2018). Northern Hemisphere Surface Freeze/Thaw Product from Aquarius L-band Radiometers, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 2055–2067

CEN's Infrastructure Network
Opening of the new CEN Sukuijarvik Station in Kangiqsualujjuaq

The new CEN research station at Kangiqsualujjuaq, called Sukuijarvik (meaning “place of science” in Inuktitut), was inaugurated in September 2018 during a ceremony organized jointly by CEN and the Inuit community of Kangiqsualujjuaq. The station, available for research
throughout the year, can accommodate up to 6 people for lodging and is equipped with a laboratory, a classroom and ATV vehicles. Click here for more information.
FORSCE to study the coastal zone

Pascal Bernatchez, a CEN’s regular member, and a team of researchers have secured $8 million in funding for the development of the Operational Fleet for Coastal Science Research (FORSCE). The research infrastructure includes vehicles adapted for research in icy waters and on ice floes, areas that are seldom accessible from the coast or from a research vessel. These vehicles will provide unique information on the ecology, physics and geology of this shallow coastal area. The Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry of Education provide 80% of the funding for this project.
CEN researcher
Jasmin Raymond

Jasmin Raymond, professor at INRS-ETE and CEN’s regular member, holds the Northern Geothermal Potential Research Chair funded by the Institut nordique du Québec. The Chair’s mission is to study the performance of heating systems using geothermal energy in cold climates and to adapt technologies to the northern environment to facilitate the use of green energy in the North. Jasmin joined the CEN almost 2 years ago and has since been actively involved in field campaigns at CEN stations and in Nunavik communities, and in various activities of the network.

New Station Managers

Eleonora Townley
Jeannie Annanack


CEN warmly welcome the Station Managers for its new Sukuijarvik station at Kangiqsualujjuaq - Eleonora Townley (right) and Jeannie Annanack (left), who were hired in September 2018. Eleonora and Jeannie are both leaders of the local youth committee at Kangiqsualujjuaq and actively participate in community activities. They also assist in the organization of the Imalirijit science camps, which have been held annually in Kangiqsualujjuaq for the past 3 years. Join us in welcoming them to the CEN team!

Student Perspective
Those Who Study Water

Gwyneth MacMillan (UdeMontréal) et Xavier Dallaire (ULaval)


IMALIRIJIIT field team (José-Gérin Lajoie and Geneviève Dubois, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières; Johann Housset, OHMI Nunavik; Mathieu Monfette, Université de Montréal; Megan Gavin, Nunavut Arctic College).


For the third consecutive year, an intercultural group of adventurers sailed the George River for the land-based science camp IMALIRIJIIT, meaning “those who study water” in Inuktitut. The iconic George River, located on the southeastern coast of Ungava Bay, Nunavik (Québec), is important for the traditional Inuit activities of fishing, hunting and gathering. However, this river is currently under pressure of climate change and exploitation of natural resources. IMALIRIJIIT is a unique and collaborative project co-initiated by the inhabitants of the Inuit community of Kangiqsualujjuaq and university-based researchers with the goals of sparking interest in science for the community’s youth and establishing a community-based environmental monitoring program. Highlights of the 2018 Science Land Camp include: navigating the ice-filled river with local guides, a GPS scavenger hunt with Mathieu, learning about fish dissection with Xavier, a lesson on tree coring and datation with Johann, a game of celestial Bingo with Geneviève, swimming and spider-catching with Gwyneth, mentorship and soccer games with Megan, knowledge-sharing on plants and traditional Inuit games with Suzie and Sarah, and the closing campfire ceremony with the mad scientist José. IMALIRIJIIT 2018 was our most successful land-camp experience ever! Future plans for IMALIRIJIIT include expanding the program to include youth from across Nunavik, as well as members of the Innu and Naskapi nations whose territories are found in the watershed of George River.

Photo credit: G. MacMillan / CEN
A word from our student representatives

The Devoted Student Committee (DSC) is pleased to introduce its new members who have been elected during the spring meeting in 2018:
- Xavier Dallaire, Biology student and representative from Université Laval
- Karine Rioux, Geography student and representative from Université de Montréal
- Vincent Sasseville, Geomatics student and representative from Université de Sherbrooke
We are also pleased to announce that for 2017-2018, the CEN awarded 120 scholarships to 82 students for a total of $41,455. Congratulations to all the recipients for their involvement in the world of research through conferences, publications, training, internships or the completion of their studies.
For all new graduate students who are starting their studies and want to become CEN’s student members, we remind you that it is important to apply for membership within one year of your Master’s or Doctoral first registration. So, if you haven’t already done so, apply now!
Are you an undergraduate student? Have you conducted an introduction to research or a microthesis with promising results? Have you published these results in a scientific article or presented them at a national or international conference as the first author? Since last year, you may be eligible to receive a scholarship! Find out more on our website.
Please also note that since last year, only one scholarship competition will be held each academic year. The next deadline is on March 1st 2019.
All the members of the DSC wish you success in your projects and studies!
To contact us:

Special Distinctions

The director and staff of the Nunavik research centre receiving the Northern Science Award 2018.
Photo credit:
SebaZtien Girard / ArcticNet
Northern Science Award

The Northern Science Award, presented annually by Polar Knowledge Canada, was awarded to the Nunavik Research Centre, one of CEN’s major allies in the North. The ceremony took place at the ArcticNet ASM held in Ottawa in December 2018. Ms Julie Payette, the Governor General of Canada, presented the medal along with a cheque for $10,000 to Ellen Avard, Director of the Nunavik Research Centre (Makivik Corp.), and former CEN member. Congratulations to Ellen and all of the Nunavik Research Centre team!

Prix d’excellence de la relève

Congratulations to researcher Martin-Hugues St-Laurent who received the Prix d’excellence de la relève from the Université du Québec in the fall of 2018. This award is a testimony to his dynamic research in the field of animal ecology including the innovative aspect of his research work on the impacts of socio-economic development on woodland caribou. The award also recognizes his talent as an outreach communicator of science.
ArcticNet student's communication prizes

Last, but not least, we must highlight the awards for outstanding communication skills received by CEN’s student members during the ArcticNet ASM: Émilie Desjardins, Don-Jean Léandri Breton and Élise Imbeau for their posters (3rd place - Health and Social sciences category, 1st place and 3rd place - Terrestrial Sciences category, respectively).
Mark your calendars!
7-8 February 2019 - CEN annual meeting, Université Laval, Québec
18-19 February 2019 - 25th PREG symposium, Université Laval, Québec
4 February -2 April 2019 - Northern Quebec MOOC, Université Laval, Québec
2-12 July 2019 - Arctic microbiomes International PhD school, Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik
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Centre for Northern Studies
Pavillon Abitibi-Price 
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Université Laval 
Québec (Québec) 
Canada, G1V 0A6 
Telephone: 418.656.3340 
Email: cen@cen.ulaval.ca