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News Releases

REF NO.: 153

SUBJECT: Memorial University researcher to participate in international Arctic research initiative
DATE: April 24, 2003

Dr. Don Deibel from Memorial University of Newfoundland's Ocean Sciences Centre will participate in an international scientific mission in the Canadian high Arctic in the fall of 2003.

Memorial's participation is made possible following the announcement earlier today by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) of an investment of $27.7 million to retrofit an existing icebreaker supplied by the Canadian Coastguard. The research ship will be equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation to undertake environmental and marine sciences in northern areas that were not previously accessible to international, as well as Canada's, research communities.

"This is welcome excellent news for all members of Canada's research community, but especially for researchers and students at Memorial University, where we concentrate on questions related to harsh, cold environments," said Dr. Meisen.

"Today's announcement recognizes the talent and dedication of researchers at Memorial," said the honourable Gerry Byrne, MP for Humber-St. Barbe. "Giving our local institutions access to leading research collaborations and facilities will allow them to make an important contribution to international science."

Dr. Don Deibel, research professor at Memorial's Ocean Sciences Centre, is a biological oceanographer who has been working in the arctic for the past 15 years. He is a co-principal investigator on the CFI award to Laval University to refit the Coast Guard icebreaker, the Sir John Franklin, for arctic marine research.

Dr. Deibel's research in the arctic deals with the role of zooplankton in the carbon and nitrogen cycles of polynyas, which are areas of open water in the midst of ice-covered seas. He is discovering that zooplankton are important in the sequestration of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, by polynyas, and thus are helping to put together a picture of the role of polynyas in global climate change. In 2003-2004, Dr. Deibel and his students will be part of an international team using the newly refitted scientific icebreaker to conduct an annual study of the impact of the Mackenzie River on the carbon cycle of the Beaufort Sea Shelf.

The new icebreaker's first international research mission will be to study the ecosystem impacts of melting ice in the Western Arctic. Funding for the multi-year, multi-university project - almost $10 million - was also announced today by Minister Rock on behalf of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The vessel will sail in August and over winter in the Beaufort Sea.

"This research will help tackle issues that transcend national boundaries and will help consolidate Canada's lead in Arctic oceanography," said Minister Rock. "This new ship will also provide a unique training opportunity by enabling Canada's young researchers to work side by side with some of the world's best environment and marine scientists."

"Initiatives like this one hold the potential for significant discoveries in marine and environmental sciences that will benefit all Canadians," said Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development).

The CFI funds are awarded to a consortium of 14 universities under its International Joint Ventures Fund. Industry Minister, Allan Rock, joined CFI President and CEO, Dr. David Strangway made the announcement today at l'Université Laval in Quebec City.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established by the Government of Canada in 1997 to strengthen the capacity for innovation in Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and other non-profit institutions.

NSERC is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. The Council supports both basic university research through discovery grants, and project research through partnerships among universities, governments and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.

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