Doctoral student Dan Weaver reporting from the Arctic: installments 1-5

Monday, March 24, 2014 4:00:00 PM

Dan Weaver(Photo courtesy of Dan Weaver)

Dan Weaver, a doctoral student in the Department of Physics and the School of the Environment's collaborative program in Environmental Studies, is spending the next month conducting research at PEARL, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory on Ellesmere Island, near Eureka, Nunavut.  He is on site with colleagues from York University,  Western University, and UofT, including Joseph Mendonca, who is also a doctoral student in Physics and in the School's collaborative program in Environmental Studies.

Dan's and Joseph's doctoral research is supervised by Dr. Kimberly Strong, Professor in Physics and Director of the School of the Environment.  Dr. Strong's group has been making measurements at Eureka since 1999 and was involved in establishing PEARL in 2005.  The current team is participating in the Canadian Arctic ACE/OSIRIS Validation Campaign, which is led by Dr. Kaley Walker, Associate Professor in Physics who is also teaching ENV237/238, the School's new course on the Physics of the Changing Environment.

Read the first installment

Read the second installment 

Read the third installment

Read the fourth installment 

Read the fifth installment 


Introduction to First Installment:
Reporting from the Arctic: measuring ozone, tracking satellites, hiking fiords

Dan Weaver is a graduate student at the University of Toronto whose research takes him to PEARL, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory on Ellesmere Island, near Eureka, Nunavut.

PEARL’s main building, the Ridge Lab, is 15 kilometres from Environment Canada’s Eureka Weather Station, up on a ridge overlooking stunning Arctic fiords and waterways. At 80°N latitude, PEARL is more than 4000 kilometres (about 2500 miles) north of Toronto (43°N).

What kind of work takes a PhD candidate from U of T's physics department to an experimental lab at the northern edge of Canada? Start with climate, ozone depletion, atmospheric dynamics, and air quality.

But while the geographic location of the lab may be in the far north, Weaver’s work isn’t just about the remote Arctic environment – it contributes to our understanding of processes that affect the entire planet.

“The data collected at PEARL is highly valued by international collaborators because the lab’s location is strategic; it’s the only one of its kind in this part of Canada, which lends valuable data to networks of observatories around the world,” says Weaver. “As scientists advance our understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere, PEARL contributes a key piece of the puzzle."

This week, Weaver and the other researchers will fly more than a thousand kilometres north to Edmonton where they will catch another flight to Yellowknife (62°N – roughly the same latitude of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut). That’s the half-way point of their trip; from Yellowknife, they’ll charter a plane to Eureka, stopping in Cambridge Bay and Resolute to refuel. (Image at right by Google Maps.)

Weaver will spend the next month conducting research at PEARL – and he’ll be filing weekly dispatches to complete with photos. 

Do you have a question for Weaver about his research? About what it’s like to live and work where the only visitors are Arctic hares, foxes or polar bears? Email your queries to: 

You can also reach Weaver on Twitter through the @CREATEArcticSci Twitter account.

Read more... 

Introduction to Second Installment:
Reporting from the Arctic: a typical day in Eureka

What does a typical day in Eureka look like for you?

We are in PEARL’s labs 7 days a week during our measurement campaigns, and have long days. But we’re excited about our research and the opportunity to push the boundaries of what we know about the planet.

When we first arrive, there is a flurry of activity to unpack our equipment. Many large instruments are installed at PEARL permanently, but some are brought back and forth. We also need to bring up parts for upgrading, repairing, or maintaining instruments.