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The Museum Participates in International Polar Year
The Canadian Museum of Nature has a long history of Arctic research, and is respected nationally and internationally for its scientific expertise. Three of the museum's scientists are directly involved in International Polar Year projects, while others are continuing their Arctic-based research, which will feed into the collective knowledge gained from this important scientific programme.
Monitoring Three Oceans
Dr. Kathleen Conlan is a principal investigator of the Canada's Three Oceans Project, which is an International Polar Year project led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The goal of this project is to study the chemistry and biology of the waters in the North Pacific, Arctic, and North Atlantic, and to establish a scientific basis for sustainable, long-term monitoring. Conlan's role will be to analyze, in the lab, benthic (sea floor) samples collected in the eastern Arctic in 2007.
Dr. Conlan has been a marine biologist with the Canadian Museum of Nature since 1979. An experienced polar diver, Conlan studies how natural and human disturbance in the Arctic and in Antarctica affects marine life on the sea floor. She is also the author of the award-winning children's book Under the Ice.
Collecting from the Sea Floor
Ed Hendrycks is a Research Assistant who studies marine amphipods (small crustaceans). He has worked at the Canadian Museum of Nature since 1985 and has taken part in numerous deep-sea collecting expeditions.
In July 2007, Hendrycks spent three weeks on board the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St. Laurent as part of the Canada's Three Oceans Project for IPY. The voyage took him through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Straight of Belle Isle, into the Labrador Sea, up to Baffin Island and then to Resolute on Cornwallis Island.
Hendrycks collected samples of marine invertebrates, such as sponges, marine worms, brittle stars, clams and various crustaceans from the sea floor of the eastern Arctic at up to 800 metres in depth. His contribution was part of a larger effort to gather data about the water, currents and marine life in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. These are important baseline indicators to monitor changes that may occur because of climate change. One noteworthy find was a species of hard coral found in the Labrador Sea off of Greenland, which may be the northernmost occurrence for this species.
Studying the Flaw Lead
Dr. Michel Poulin is contributing to the Circumpolar Flaw Lead (CFL) system study, Canada's most ambitious project for the International Polar Year. Dr. Poulin is a phycologist with a strong expertise with microscopic algae who has been with the Canadian Museum of Nature since 1984.
In autumn 2007, he travelled 3500 km throughout the Canadian High Arctic on board the Canadian Coast Guard research icebreaker Amundsen, collecting phytoplankton at different sampling stations in the region of the Beaufort Sea, where the flaw lead will develop. The flaw lead consists of a breach of open water forming in the winter between the central ice pack and the land-fast ice that is usually attached to shore present all around the Arctic. This open water corridor allows for ship navigation but is also sensitive to atmospheric and oceanic forcing.
The main objective of the CFL project is to examine how the physical changes will affect the biological processes within the flaw lead. Dr. Poulin will determine the species composition and abundance of the phytoplankton in the flaw lead and the bottom ice algae of adjacent land-fast ice in relation to environmental factors.
He is also involved in ArcticNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence involving 100 Canadian researchers collaborating with foreign scientists to study the impacts of climate change in the coastal Canadian Arctic.