Scientists brace for cuts as federal climate funding expires

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 3:11:59 AM

Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory. Photo: Erik Lutsch

The end of a federal government funding program, with no follow-on program in place, threatens the progress of long-term climate change research in Canada. NSERC's $35-million Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program, through which money to atmospheric research funding is allocated in Canadian universities, expires this year.

Paul Kushner, a climate scientist at the University of Toronto (Physics professor and graduate faculty member of the School of the Environment) heads the CCAR-funded Canadian Sea Ice and Snow Evolution (CanSISE) Network. Kushner believes that the issue is "not simply one of channelling money to researchers but of establishing a long-term mechanism that allows better strategic planning and allocation of resources." A funding call every five or six years makes it impossible to have a stable, sustainable climate research program, he says.

Professor Kimberly Strong, Director of the School, is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the CCAR-funded Probing the Atmosphere of the High Arctic (PAHA) project, which is supporting science at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) on Ellesmere Island. Strong notes that "CCAR has been vital to Canadian climate and atmospheric science and has enabled the training of more than 350 students and other young scientists. With no program to replace it, the future of PEARL and other major networks is in jeopardy."

PEARL's Principal Investigator, Jim Drummond, a professor from Dalhousie University, says that he "would try to use other funding sources to continue science activities at PEARL in hopes that next year's budget provides stable funding."

Read more about the expiration of the current climate research funding model in the media:

Globe and Mail - Scientists brace for climate-fund cutoff

CBC - Arctic research lab to be mothballed as federal grant expires, Dal physicist says

CTV - Critical science research in jeopardy over funding, scientist warns

Globe and Mail - Without funding, Canadian climate science is in peril