A Northern moment: Eureka Weather Station (video)

Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal takes a virtual tour of the Eureka Weather Station on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. Join Minister Vandal as he talks with staff and scientists to learn more about climate change in the North.


Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs: A little bit over a year ago, the Prime Minister appointed me as Minister of Northern Affairs and 1 of the tasks he put in front of me was to work with the public service, of course, on the Eureka Weather Station. So, I really was looking forward to visiting the territories more often and jeez, it would be extremely interesting to actually go visit the weather station at 1 point.

Robert Daigle, director of atmospheric monitoring, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC): So, actually everything started, like, after World War II, where Canada and the United States really got more interested about the weather that was coming from the Arctic. Actually, a huge mass air of the Arctic had more and more influence and impact on the weather and the climate of both countries. So, kind of an agreement was reached in February 1947, which is kind of a while ago, between both countries to establish 5 Arctic Weather Stations.

When you had your tour this Monday at Resolute Bay, now you see Eureka, where it stands on Ellesmere Island, and you see Alert up in the North.

Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs: Yeah.

Robert Daigle, director of atmospheric monitoring, ECCC: So, that's a DND [Department of National Defence] base. Actually, there's 65 to 70 people from DND up there and we have also some scientists and weather people, from 2 to 4 people on a yearly basis.

That's our inflating building. Actually, that's where we do our balloon launch. It's called the Upper Air Program. That's where we really, we put a sensor tied to a rope, and then inflated with hydrogen in this particular place. It goes 36 kms up in the air and we gather observations, weather observations through the vertical line actually.

Veronica Ramrattan, director general, ECCC: I'm the DG of Real Property, Environment and Climate Change Canada. The investments that was made into the Eureka station in Budget 2018, we were really lucky to get approximately $89 million dollars to invest in our science that were there.

Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs: We know that climate change, of course, is a reality. It's something that we are dealing with as a government and as public servants. How has the change of climate affected your infrastructure challenges in Eureka?

Veronica Ramrattan, director general, ECCC: So, the runway is actually just gravel, and it has been like that for decades and it's been able to sustain itself without any additional work because of the permafrost. But as climate change has occurred and the permafrost has been melting, the larger planes with the big loads have been unable to land on the runway, making it very difficult.

So, that is why we had to make this investment in there to be able to continue the work and the science we're doing.

Don Lavallée, station program manager: Good morning, Minister. My name is Don, I'm the Station Program Manager here at Eureka Weather Station.

Renée Cossitt, junior technician: Hi, I'm Renée Cossitt. I'm 1 of the weather monitoring technicians.

Marion Cutler, station steward, ATCO: Hi, I'm Marion. This is my first tour here, and I work in the kitchen.

Laura Werden, junior technician: I'm Laura. I'm also 1 of the weather monitoring technicians.

John Oakoak, heavy duty mechanic, ATCO: John Oakoak, heavy equipment mechanic.

Lincoln Elson, heavy equipment operator, ATCO: Lincoln Elson, heavy equipment operator.

Edward Saul, senior aerological observer: Good morning Minister. My name is Edward Saul and I'm the Acting Senior Monitoring Technician.

Don Lavallee, station program manager: The primary purpose of the Eureka Weather Station, as mentioned by Robert, is that we are an Upper Air Program that do twice a day balloon launches, as well as Service Weather Program that we do weather, hourly weather observations 22 hours out of the day, and we do several other supplementary programs.

We do ice surveys, snow surveys, we do ozone measurements as well on a weekly basis. So, that's the bulk of the everyday duties that we have here at the Eureka Weather Station.

Mother Nature's in charge up here and we've experienced that fact. We have blizzards that, you know, 80 km/hr winds for 2 to 3 days. And that can affect our infrastructure as well.

Chris Derksen, research scientist, ECCC: My name is Chris Derksen. I'm a research scientist in the Climate Research Division of Environment and Climate Change Canada. I'm based in Toronto. I've been very fortunate to visit the Canadian Arctic about 25 times to do field work in my career dating back to when I was in graduate school and I've been lucky enough to go to Eureka twice to do field campaigns, and I must say Eureka probably is the highlight of what I've seen across the Canadian Arctic. It truly is a special place.

We know that climate change is impacting sea ice across the Arctic, notably in Canada as well, so we have a shorter ice cover season. That means the ice is younger, it's thinner, it's more mobile. And all of these changes have broad reaching impacts for Canadians.

So, these changes that we're seeing in sea ice really are important and we rely very heavily on data from satellites to tell us about the state of the sea ice, how it's moving, how old it is, things like that.

I just want to emphasize here that since 2011, we've been carrying out some dedicated field campaigns out of Eureka. We do these in collaboration with partners at other agencies, including the European Space Agency and NASA, and the goal of these campaigns is to validate the information that we get from satellites on specifically the thickness of sea ice.

Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs: Listen, thank you so much for sharing everything with me. As I said earlier, the work you do is incredibly important. Our government is committed to evidence and to science and we are working in partnership with certainly your team. And if there's any messages you'd like to send Cabinet or the Prime Minister, please reach out to my team and we will be there to work with you.

C'est un plaisir de vous rencontrer ce matin, puis je vous souhaite toutes les meilleures à l'avenir. Ça fait que on va travailler ensemble. Thank you so much.

Text on screen: Canada wordmark

Date modified: