Sentinel North

Harnessing the power of light for the benefit of human health, the environment, and sustainable development in the North


Sentinel North International Arctic Field School

The Changing Cryosphere: From Sensors to Decision-making

March 2 - 9, 2018, Iqaluit (Nunavut), Canada



Under the leadership of the Sentinel North strategy of Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), the International Arctic Field School (IAFS) provides international students with a unique opportunity to interact with high-profile scientists, northerners and managers as part of a transdisciplinary training program that addresses the complex and interrelated scientific and socio-economic issues linked to the changing Arctic cryosphere.

Taking place in Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut, Canada, the school will focus on an integrative, transdisciplinary and innovative training program supported by internationally renowned professors and local experts. Under the overarching theme of a changing arctic cryosphere, participants will get hands-on experience with a wide range of disciplines such as optics/photonics, arctic ecology, chemistry, geology and human health. Participants will also be provided tools allowing them to think outside the box and harness new aspects of the changing arctic cryosphere, both scientifically and culturally.

Call for application is open until October 29, 2017.


Program overview

The IAFS will maintain a sharp focus on the themes detailed below. The school favors a multi-faceted approach that includes lectures, case studies and field trips/excursions delivered by experts from various disciplines. It will also integrate demonstrations of emerging optics/photonics technologies as key components to improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human health.

Climate and the arctic water cycle

  • Hydrology and snow dynamics
  • Glaciers, climate warming and mass balance

Changing permafrost and impacts on infrastructure

  • Urban planning
  • Infrastructure monitoring systems

Ecosystem response to a changing cryosphere

  • Snow-vegetation-soil interactions
  • Dynamics of terrestrial and coastal wildlife populations

Impact on local and global societies

  • Travel safety
  • Food and water security
  • Cultural aspects
  • Circumpolar perspective


The school will also enable the development of transversal skills such as international networking and collaboration, integration of traditional and scientific ecological knowledge for community-based monitoring programs, knowledge mobilization and informing policy.

In addition to the scientific program, the IAFS provides a unique cultural experience for both northern and international participants, and will seek to foster knowledge transfer locally through activities planned with the community of Iqaluit (public lectures, elders testimonials, etc.).

Field visits / Excursions

  • Visit of the Iqaluit airport
  • Visit of Iqaluit water management infrastructures and of Apex river project
  • Excursion to the coastal sea ice, with a Smart ICE project demonstration
  • Field trips to measure the different components of the cryosphere on the land


Who should apply

Up to 20 international graduate students with various backgrounds will be recruited. The target audience are PhD students, but in some cases postdoctoral fellows or M.Sc. students (or equivalent) with relevant professional qualifications may also apply.

In addition to international university students, northern students from the Environmental Technology Program of the Nunavut Arctic College will also participate in the school.

Note: Due to the practical and hands-on approach to teaching in extreme cold environments, the IAFS requires all participants to be in reasonably good physical condition, and be equipped/dressed accordingly. Details will be provided to selected participants.


Preliminary list of speakers

Trevor Bell, Professor, Department of Geography, U. Memorial of Newfoundland and Co-leader of Smart ICE
Jason Carpenter, Senior instructor, Nunavut Arctic College, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
Daniel Côté, Physics and biophotonics, Université Laval, Quebec city, Canada
Florent Domine, Senior scientist in snow physics, permafrost thermal regime, arctic climate, snow-vegetation-permafrost interactions, CNRS-Takuvik joint International Laboratory, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Murray Humphries, Associate professor, McGill University Northern Research Chair, Québec, Canada
Margareta Johansson, Executive secretary of INTERACT, Researcher at Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Sweden
René Therrien, Professor, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior Research Officer, Nunavut Research Institute, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Application process

You can apply for the Sentinel North International Arctic Field School using the online application form.

Be prepared to provide the following information and material as part of the application:

  • Identification (name, address, etc.)
  • Language skills
  • Academic information (current studies and research project)
  • Relevance of the application (describe the school's relationship with the main subject of your research project and the advantages that you could derive from this experience in relation to your current career goals)
  • Background (university studies, scholarships and prizes obtained, skills and experience, social involvement, etc.)
  • References (2)
  • A letter of recommendation from your research supervisor or co-supervisor justifying the relevance and added value of the IAFS to your academic training and research

 We recommend you check out the application form entirely before starting to fill it out.

The deadline to send your application is October 29, 2017.

Selection process

Applications will be assessed by the Sentinel North IAFS Steering Committee according to the evaluation criteria below.

Knowledge transfer is a major goal and objective of the IAFS. For this reason, participants will be selected based not only on academic excellence, but also on their disposition towards knowledge sharing and their openness to think and learn “outside the box”. Gender equality and geographic representation will also be considered.

Evaluation criteria include:

  • Academic excellence
  • Aptitude for research and leadership
  • Relevance of the candidate’s research field with the IAFS themes

All applicants will be notified of the decision by mid-December, 2017.

Registration fee

Registration Fee: $500*

This amount includes:

  • Registration
  • Flight from Montreal or Ottawa to Iqaluit
  • Pedagogical and scientific materials
  • Food (3 meals a day + coffee breaks)
  • Lodging (double occupancy)
  • Activities for the duration of the IAFS

 Registration fee does not cover:

  • Your transport to Montreal or Ottawa and return (including airfare, Visa fees, etc.)
  • Additional excursions and activities not included in the program
  • Personal expenses
  • Health insurance

Payment must be received in full at least one month prior to the start of the session. Payment details will be provided to the selected candidates.

*Amount is in Canadian dollars




Training and Research Grants

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Student Mobility Grants

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Innovative Training activities

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For more information on Sentinel North scholarships and training programs, please contact:

Marie-France Gévry
Training programs coordinator
418-656-2131 ext. 8910