Dr. Andrew Weaver - Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria
“This is yet another bad day for Canadian science. One of Canada's premier research labs is being shut down just when it is most needed. The Arctic environment is changing rapidly in response to global warming and ozone depletion. PEARL represents a major Canadian and International commitment to monitor this change. Its loss will have a devastating impact on our
understanding of Arctic change.”
Dr. Gloria Manney - Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology & Adjunct Professor, Dept of Physics, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
“Measurements from the facility that is now in operation as the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) near Eureka have been an important part of my research since the mid-‐1990s, shortly after the facility began operations as the Arctic Stratospheric Ozone Observatory (AStrO). For work such as mine, which focuses on studies related to the ozone layer and chemical ozone destruction in the Arctic, the data from this facility are uniquely valuable. The location of PEARL is such that, during intensive winter measurement campaigns there, measurements are frequently taken inside the “stratospheric polar vortex”, a large-‐scale band of winds encircling the polar regions within which ozone destruction takes place. Those measurements, including ozone and gases that play critical roles in destroying ozone, are, in my view, crucial not only for understanding and monitoring the processes involved in wintertime ozone destruction, but also for verifying the more global, but less precise and detailed, view of these processes we get from satellite measurements. Because of their unique features, the measurements from PEARL are being highlighted in several studies of the unprecedented Arctic ozone loss that took place in winter/spring 2011. I believe the lack of these comprehensive measurements during winter and early spring (including measurements during the polar night) from PEARL will be a grave loss to the research community. I sincerely hope that funding mechanisms can be found so that measurements from PEARL can be continued.”
Dr. Dick Pelletier - Director of the Centre for Global Change Science, Pricipal Investigator of the Polar Climate Stability Network, Scientific Director of SciNet, Department of Physics, University of Toronto
“The closure of the PEARL station is surely one of the most foolish decisions we could make insofar as the monitoring of our high latitude environment is concerned. The very significant investment in the instrumentation that has been installed there has fueled several years of data collection that has allowed Canada to begin to contribute meaningfully to the understanding of Arctic environmental conditions, especially concerning stratospheric ozone decline. To invest many millions of dollars in the development of state-of-the-art capability only to shut it down after a short period of operation makes sense neither scientifically nor economically.”
Dr. David Barber - Director, Centre for Earth Observation Science, CHR Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba
“The PEARL laboratory is a critical part of Canada’s scientific infrastructure for the Arctic. Most people know about the dramatic reduction in sea ice in the north, the same for permafrost and the melting of our large glaciers. Many however are not as aware of the significant recent Arctic ozone depletion events and the fact that changes in the Arctic surface (either land or ocean) are directly coupled to processes which evolve through the entire atmosphere – starting at the boundary layer near the planet and all the way up through to the Stratosphere. Many people are also not as aware of the fact that changes in the Arctic climate are now affecting more southerly latitudes, including extreme weather and colder than usual conditions in Europe and southern north America. This short term lack of funding for this critical climate station is yet another example of why Canada needs a centralized Arctic strategy manifest through a new Canadian Arctic Institute. It is not so much a lack of funding which hinders Canada’s leadership in Arctic science but rather the coordinated use of these funds.”
Dr. James Drummond - Professor, Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science, Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, and PEARL Principal Investigator.
“The PEARL observatory is one of only a very few located in the High Arctic. The loss of this station means that we will have a "black hole" over Northern Canada where the measurements should be. Canada makes sovereignty claims over this region of the Arctic and should be in the forefront of Arctic research. If it is a case of "use it or lose it", then we are definitely losing it. The rest of the world is watching how much Canada really cares about the Arctic. The answer is - not much.
There are many research programs that want to operate in the High Arctic. These range from Astronomy, through weather and pollution to permafrost and medicine. There is also strong interest in the region as a test-bed for a mission to Mars. All these programs are now being put back and the people working on them will have to find other work. Many of them will go abroad and are realistically unlikely to return.
One of my colleagues once told me that Canada had no science policy for the long-term but had a series of "bouts of enthusiasm" for various research topics. It seems that Canada no longer has much enthusiasm for this kind of Arctic research.
Climate change is moving very quickly in the Arctic. In many ways it will be the first place to show adverse effects. Temperature rises at PEARL have been recorded at five times the average for the planet. With PEARL closing we will be unable to watch these changes and learn what this means for the rest of Canada.”
John Streicker - Science Advisor, Northern Climate ExChange, Yukon Research Centre.
“Losing the PEARL station is a real loss to understanding the rapid changes, especially to climate, ozone and sea ice, being experienced in the High North. Changes to the Arctic have now become critical for Canada and the rest of the world. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic.
Last year, with the help of PEARL, we detected a hole in the Arctic ozone, similar in size to the Antarctic. This was a first, but the scientific community is concerned it will persist due to warming of the high Arctic stratosphere. Unfortunately with the loss of government funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, research facilities like PEARL will have to shut down.”
Dr. Kimberly Strong - Professor, Department of Physics, University of Toronto, and PEARL Scientist.
What are the potential impacts of this closure?
The closure of PEARL will have a negative impact in many areas. It will significantly diminish Canada's ability to make year-round measurements of the atmosphere in the Canadian High Arctic at a time when conditions in the Arctic are changing rapidly and the need for such measurements to help us understand long-term trends and atmospheric processes is growing.
It will limit Canada's participation in a number of international networks. PEARL instruments have been certified by several networks (Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC), Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON), Multi-platform remote Sensing of Isotopologues for investigating the Cycle of Atmospheric water (MUSICA), and the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) and have been providing valuable Arctic datasets to each. These contributions will cease or be severely limited.
In addition to these networks, PEARL has enabled numerous national and international collaborations, as our datasets are in high demand, resulting in frequent requests to participate in collaborative projects. These collaborations will also come to an end. It will further Canada's growing reputation as an unreliable scientific partner, unable to maintain a state-of-the-art Arctic laboratory that has gained international recognition among atmospheric scientists, despite claims that we value the Arctic and claim sovereignty. It will demoralize our young scientists, particularly the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who have received training at PEARL, and will reduce our ability to train the next generation of atmospheric scientists in Canada, particularly those that have expertise in Arctic issues. We are already losing some terrific young scientists to better opportunities in Europe and the USA. The lack of support for PEARL is sending them a sad message about the state of science in Canada.
What does the timing of this closure mean for our understanding of air quality, ozone, and climate changes?
The instruments at PEARL are capable of measuring a suite of products that are being contributed to data archives and being used to construct long-term time series, investigate atmospheric processes, test models, and validate satellite measurements. These data products include concentrations of trace gases, winds, precipitation, temperature, radiation, aerosols, and clouds.
Regarding air quality, PEARL is well located for measuring pollutants that are transported into the Arctic from southern latitudes by atmospheric circulation patterns. These pollutants include aerosols and such trace gases as carbon monoxide, ethane, and hydrogen cyanide. For example, we can trace enhancements of these gases back to forest fires as far away as Siberia. The closure of PEARL will bring these measurements to an end.
PEARL is ideally located for studying stratospheric ozone loss and recovery, as evidenced by our measurements of the record low ozone depletion in spring 2011. That discovery was made against the backdrop of 15 years of measurements; such long time series are essential both for deriving trends and identifying outliers. PEARL instruments currently measure ozone and a suite of chlorine, bromine, and nitrogen compounds that control the ozone budget, along with temperatures and clouds that are also important ingredients in ozone chemistry. Again, the closure of PEARL will end this measurement capability at a time when we need to know how effective the Montreal Protocol and its amendments will be at ensuring ozone recovery and when the links between climate change and ozone recovery remain uncertain.
Measurements of temperature, radiation, water vapour, and the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are all being made at PEARL. These are important indicators for climate change, but again, long-term records are needed for Arctic trend studies. These will not be acquired with the closure of PEARL.