PEARL’s Strategic Plan sets out three broad atmospheric themes:
The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) is a self-contained facility operated by the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) since 2005. The equipment at PEARL comprises a complete system to study the atmosphere from the surface to 100 km altitude. PEARL supports CANDAC university and government scientists, as well as other researchers in the atmospheric science community and in fields such as geology, astronomy, medicine, etc. working in or around PEARL. Please contact us directly or fill out the access request form below if you are a researcher interested in working at PEARL.
Composition, Climate, and Chemistry
Motivation: The need for high-quality trace gas measurements in the Arctic has been identified in numerous reports, e.g., “Long-term monitoring of atmospheric composition at existing stations needs to be continued and integrated into a Pan-Arctic observation network…” (AMAP report on Black Carbon and Ozone as Arctic Climate Forcers, 2015). Climate change and the Arctic carbon budget are linked, and there is evidence that the Arctic carbon cycle is speeding up. An improved understanding of these issues is needed for well-informed policies on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Arctic experiences poor air quality due to local sources, such as oil and gas extraction, shipping, mining, and infrastructure development, as well as transport from diverse mid-latitude emission sources. Pressing research questions include the impact of rapid climate change, transport pathways of pollutants into the Arctic, new sources of local pollution, changes in local air quality, and the impact of wildfires.
Arctic tropospheric ozone is a significant short-lived climate forcer, and is also affected by halogen chemistry that can increase the deposition of mercury to snow, causing harmful effects on ecosystems and humans. In the stratosphere, ozone recovery is anticipated due to the reduction of chlorofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol, but there are uncertainties due to coupling between stratospheric ozone chemistry and climate.
(1) To quantify greenhouse gas concentrations in the Arctic.
(2) To determine the impacts of climate change on the Arctic carbon cycle.
(3) To establish the determinants of Arctic air quality and how they are changing with time.
(4) To determine what is driving changes in springtime surface Arctic ozone depletion.
(5) To investigate how climate change is affecting the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer.
(6) To validate satellite measurements of trace gases in the High Arctic.
Aerosols, Clouds, and Radiation
Motivation: Atmospheric aerosols (i.e., particulates in the atmosphere such as dust, forest fire smoke, volcanic sulphates and ash) can be pollutants and climate-forcing agents of global importance. Aerosols and their interactions with clouds are the largest source of uncertainty in radiative forcing, due to a limited understanding of aerosol properties and how they affect cloud properties. Due to the enhanced climate sensitivity of the Arctic, the radiative impacts of aerosols and clouds in this region are out of proportion with its relative size. There is also a need to prepare for the synergistic aerosol-cloud, satellite-based remote sensing initiatives driven by NASA’s Aerosols and Cloud-Convection-Precipitation program that resulted from the US National Academies’ 2017 Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space.
(1) To characterize the chemical and physical properties of the surface aerosols at PEARL in order to better understand their sources and radiative effects.
(2) To evaluate the roles of aerosol (both natural and anthropogenic) and cloud phase (ice or
liquid) in radiative balance and weather in the Arctic.
(3) To link surface and column measurements of aerosols and determine the vertical structure
of the Arctic atmosphere and its impact on the radiative effects of aerosols and clouds.
(4) To identify the transport of smoke, dust, and volcanic plumes over Eureka caused by forest
fires, local and long-distance wind erosion, and volcanic sources, and to determine their
influence on the Arctic cloud environment.
(5) To provide a suite of High Arctic aerosol measurements for evaluation.
Winds, Waves, and Weather
Motivation: The dynamics of the polar atmosphere span the troposphere (where the jet stream guides high and low pressure systems), the stratosphere and upper atmosphere (where dynamical processes drive the global circulation), and the ionosphere (where atmospheric variability can affect communications). These link the polar atmosphere vertically and couple the Arctic atmosphere to southern regions, even as far away as Antarctica. Connections to lower latitudes can result in cold air outbreaks causing extreme weather in southern Canada. Better knowledge of poorly understood coupling mechanisms is needed for short-term forecasting and for identifying the primary drivers of year-to-year variability and long-term change.
(1) To evaluate the relative impacts of the global atmospheric circulation and downward transport on ozone chemistry and variability in the Arctic.
(2) To determine the impact of atmospheric waves on the mean flows, dynamical variability and energetics above Eureka.
(3) To unravel the coupled dynamics of the Arctic and Antarctic middle atmospheres.
(4) To use knowledge of polar vortex dynamics and large-scale atmospheric oscillations to predict the outflow of frigid Arctic air and anomalous weather over the population centres of Canada.