The province is supporting world-class research into Arctic climate change by providing $3.5 million in funding to a newly created Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) that will be housed at the University of Manitoba. 

The province’s support for the project was announced today by Premier Greg Selinger today at an event welcoming the scientist who will lead the research to Manitoba.  

Premier Selinger

Premier Selinger

“This research has broad economic and environmental impacts that will increase understanding of the effects of a changing sea-ice environment,” said Selinger. “Gaining a better understanding of what climate change means in the Arctic region is crucial to the planet’s future and we are honoured to play a role in seeking that knowledge.” 

The research will focus on geomicrobial transformations as they occur in Arctic sea ice and sediments. It will look at the health of all of the inhabitants of the Arctic marine system. Sea ice is known to be home to unique ecosystems of cold-adapted microbes, which can be expected to change in response to global warming. Mineral and organic pollutants play an important role in environmental change.  

Selinger said knowledge generated through the research program will inform environmental assessments of resource development in the Arctic and the implications of it on the people of the Arctic. It will look at carbon dioxide’s effects on sea ice and its affects on the planet’s temperature. 

The research will be lead by Dr. Soren Rysgaard, the head of the Greenland Climate Research Centre at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.  He is widely recognized as one of the world’s top researchers in this field.  Securing Rysgaard at the University of Manitoba as a CERC is a major accomplishment for the institution, Selinger noted. 

Manitoba’s contribution complements $10 million provided by the federal government over seven years supporting the cost of a CERC salary and the development of a research program. It is one of the largest research grants ever awarded to a Manitoba university. 

Along with the long-term benefits of the research being done, it has more immediate financial benefits. The University of Manitoba has committed new research space, three new full-time tenure track faculty positions in the area of the chair and six graduate fellowships. Funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation will be allocated for capital equipment and facility expansion. 

This is one of 20 CERCs awarded in Canada. More information about the program can be found at www.cerc.gc.ca/cpbg-pcfi-eng.shtml.