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Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier

Marcel Babin examines how Arctic marine ecosystems will respond to climate change and new human-induced pressures.

Background

Climate change and increased natural resource extraction are transforming ecosystems in the Canadian Arctic. Management of these ecosystems, sustainable use of Arctic resources, and adapting northern communities to the rapid changes in their communities require a comprehensive understanding of the ongoing changes and their consequences.

The Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier will help address this need by using the latest advances in satellite remote sensing to study how Arctic marine ecosystems respond to climate change.

Mission

Determine how arctic marine ecosystems will respond to climate change and new human-induced pressures.

Marcel Babin, Full professor at Faculty of Science and Engineering

Marcel Babin

Chairholder

Marcel Babin is an internationally recognized authority in marine optics and remote sensing. Before joining Université Laval to head up the CERC in Remote Sensing of Canada’s New Arctic Frontier, Professor Babin was a principal investigator at the Villefranche Oceanographic Laboratory in France, a world leader in the field. He also recently developed and led Malina, a France-Canada-U.S. partnership that explores how sunlight-driven processes affect biodiversity and ecosystem processes in the Arctic Ocean. The project involved a multinational expedition to the Canadian portion of the Beaufort Sea in 2009 aboard the Canadian research icebreaker Amundsen.

Marcel Babin has dual French and Canadian citizenship. He has conducted work in several prestigious research institutions in Europe and North America and in partnership with several space agencies. He has also contributed to applied research activities in partnership with engineering firm ACRI-ST. This highly respected and creative researcher has published extensively in the leading scientific journals in his field, including Limnology and Oceanography and Journal of Geophysical Research. He recently edited a book entitled Real-Time Coastal Observing Systems for Marine Ecosystem Dynamics and Harmful Algal Blooms (UNESCO Publishing). His pioneering research on the world’s coastal oceans has helped shape the field of marine optics. His landmark work on interactions between light and matter in the ocean focuses on phytoplankton (microscopic algae suspended in seawater that form the base of the food chain), the propagation of light in costal waters, and remote sensing of ocean colour.

As a CERC chairholder, he brings his talents and expertise to the effort to better understand and manage Canada’s changing Arctic.

Objectives

  • Develop new observation technologies, better digital models of Arctic ecosystems, and powerful tools for archiving and analyzing the growing stream of data generated by northern research
  • Use the latest advances in satellite remote sensing to study the reaction of Arctic marine ecosystems to climate change
  • Adapt several advanced technologies used in other oceans to Arctic observation
  • Develop an intelligent data archiving and analysis system to consolidate and organize data across multiple platforms and models

Benefits

Professor Babin and the CERC team are developing new observation technologies, better digital models of Arctic ecosystems, and powerful tools for archiving and analyzing the growing stream of data produced by the rapidly expanding field of northern research in Canada. Improved access to this knowledge will help government, industry, and community actors in the North make decisions.

The chairholder and his team will adapt a number of advanced technologies used in other oceans to Arctic observation. Free-drifting profiling floats, underwater gliders, and autonomous underwater vehicles equipped with specialized sensors will measure critical variables in Arctic ecosystems. Combined with laboratory experiments and biodiversity studies conducted using cutting-edge molecular techniques, these new observations will provide a better understanding of Arctic ecosystems and ultimately lead to the development of reliable diagnostic and predictive models.

CERC will develop a smart system for data archiving and analysis that consolidates and organizes data across multiple platforms, providing easy access to relevant information for public sector, academic, and industry stakeholders. In doing so, it will provide all actors with a better understanding of the socio-economic issues related to climate change and its impact on Arctic ecosystems.

Partners

Professor Babin’s CERC program will establish an innovative partnership between the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS, France) and Canadian Arctic scientists in the form of an international centre for the study and modelling of Arctic ecosystems and geosystems. Other institutions will collaborate with the centre including the Canadian, French, American, and European space agencies, the United Kingdom’s Arctic Office, and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Professor Babin’s team will also work with oceanographic research group Québec-Océan, the Centre d’études nordiques, and the ArcticNet and GEOIDE Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada. This CERC will revolutionize our general understanding of the Arctic and strengthen Canada’s positions as a world leader in Arctic research on ecosystemic responses to climate change.

Main international partner

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Additional international partners

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Institutional partners

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Collaborating partners

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Space agency partners

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Industry partners

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CERC partners funded by the European Research Council

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