The High Arctic is changing at a significant rate – in some regions its temperature is rising about five times faster than the rest of the planet. These changes are important, both within the region and as their influence propagates out to lower latitudes where many Canadians live. In Spring 2011 we saw the highest depletion (lowest values) of stratospheric ozone at polar sunrise ever, and in Summer 2012 we saw the sea ice extent at its lowest value since recording began. Against this backdrop, the social and economic situation of the North is also developing rapidly with increased resource extraction and its corresponding pressures on the Arctic.

Using measurements from the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) at Eureka, Nunavut and measurements from other sites around the Arctic and the rest of the globe, together with state-of-the-art analysis techniques, this project will probe the Atmosphere of the Canadian High Arctic and analyse the causes of the changes that are happening. From an understanding of the causes of atmospheric changes, we can predict their progress in the future.

Within this proposal, special attention is paid to understanding the changing composition of the Arctic atmosphere, the flows of energies that warm and cool the atmosphere, immense differences between the polar day and the polar night and, as a very significant adjunct, the ability to verify and supplement satellite measurements throughout the Arctic. Through this last mechanism, measurements made at a single location can be transferred to the broader Arctic context.

Scientific research in the Arctic offers unique opportunities to train young people and this proposal offers significant opportunities for young scientists to participate fully in the research.

This proposal has been developed in close cooperation with many scientists and managers within Environment Canada and the Canadian Space Agency who are seeking to understand the Arctic for the benefit of Canadians. Understanding these changes is a priority for Canada and other Arctic nations.