Takuvik Joint International Laboratory
BNP Paribas Foundation
QUÉBEC CITY, Dec. 3, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - A Canadian and French consortium, coordinated by the Takuvik Joint International Laboratory and supported by the BNP Paribas Foundation, is launching its APT Project, for Acceleration of Permafrost Thaw By Snow‒Vegetation Interactions. This important research initiative studies how climate change is accelerating the thawing of permafrost, a phenomenon that is still poorly understood.
The APT Project's objective is to accurately predict temperature changes in permafrost (soil or rock that remains frozen year round) while taking into account new feedback mechanisms in order to predict the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by thawing permafrost and quantify permafrost‒climate feedback. The consortium will explore how permafrost temperature changes impact Arctic vegetation, wildlife, landscapes, and geomorphology, the lifestyle and infrastructure of Inuit populations, and climate change, while also examining the environmental threats posed by such changes. Researchers will also attempt to model the rate at which permafrost is thawing.
An estimated 1,600 billion tons of carbon are trapped in permafrost—twice the amount currently found in the atmosphere. When permafrost thaws due to climate change, the carbon it contains can be transformed into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane). Released into the atmosphere, these gases could cause a massive increase in the greenhouse effect, resulting in one of the most powerful positive climate feedback mechanisms ever.
The Canada‒France consortium has already found strong evidence of positive snow‒vegetation feedback that is likely to accelerate permafrost thaw. "Expansion of shrub cover in the Arctic, which increases the thermal insulation properties of snow cover, is an example of this," said Florent Dominé, associate professor in the Chemistry Department at Université Laval's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Takuvik laboratory research director. "At present, we can't accurately estimate the extent of this feedback, because we don't understand enough about the processes involved in permafrost thaw rates and the transformation of trapped frozen carbon to correctly account for them in climate models."
Permafrost thaw is a global concern, especially critical for Inuit populations whose lifestyle, housing, and food supplies are at stake. The APT Project team wants to get the Inuit community involved as a stakeholder in the initiative. "Schools in Nunavik's Inuit villages will be equipped with tools to enable students to gather data on ground temperatures and snow density," Florent Dominé noted.
The research project is funded by the BNP Paribas Foundation, which will invest $800,000 over a three-year period. BNP Paribas Group, through its BNP Paribas Foundation, is developing several environmental programs and has committed to support their scientific research. The Foundation turned its attention to climate change research in 2010 with a global program to raise climate change awareness. This year, the BNP Paribas Foundation is supporting five new initiatives including the consortium's project on the acceleration of permafrost thaw. BNP Paribas and the BNP Paribas Foundation extend their best wishes for success to the team of researchers involved in this study, coordinated by the Takuvik Joint International Laboratory.
The project Acceleration of Permafrost Thaw By Snow-Vegetation Interactions (APT) is an initiative of the Takuvik Joint Laboratory Program arising from a partnership between Université Laval (UL – Canada) and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS – France). It is supported financially by the BNP Paribas Foundation.
Florent Dominé will be coordinating this research project, which will take advantage of the experimental stations of the Centre for Northern Studies to ensure optimal access to the Canadian Arctic and strengthen collaboration between the French and Canadian teams studying snow and permafrost.
Takuvik Joint Laboratory Program
Takuvik was created in January 2011 through a partnership between Université Laval (UL – Canada) and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS – France) as a joint laboratory studying the impact of ongoing climatic and anthropogenic changes on Arctic marine and terrestrial ecosystems and geosystems. The Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier is a cornerstone of this program. Takuvik is located at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada, where CNRS employees work on the project full time. In the same spirit of international collaboration, CNRS has created some thirty joint laboratories similar to Takuvik around the world. Takuvik boasts 11 professors, 3 researchers, 26 technicians, engineers, and other staff members as well as 36 doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows.
BNP Paribas Foundation – 30 years of philanthropy
Under the auspices of Fondation de France, the BNP Paribas Foundation has been a key player in corporate philanthropy for 30 years. It also helps develop the international philanthropy of the BNP Paribas Group everywhere the Bank is present. The BNP Paribas Foundation takes a multidisciplinary approach to philanthropy, supporting innovative projects dedicated to culture, social integration, and the environment. It also seeks to establish strong ties with its partners by working with them long term. Responsiveness, assistance, and trust are the pillars of its involvement. The year 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the BNP Paribas Foundation. Since 1984 more than 300 cultural projects, 40 research programs, and some 1,000 social and educational initiatives have benefited from its support in France and abroad. (mecenat.bnpparibas.com)
BNP Paribas is one of the biggest foreign banks in Canada. Since 1961 it has been helping Canadian businesses and institutions grow by offering a full range of specialized financial services and investment products. Headquartered in Montréal and with offices in Toronto and Calgary, BNP Paribas in Canada combines a clear understanding of the Canadian landscape with international expertise.
BNP Paribas has a presence in 75 countries with more than 180,000 employees, including over 140,000 in Europe. It ranks highly in its three core activities: Retail Banking, Investment Solutions, and Corporate & Investment Banking. In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy, and Luxembourg), and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the leader in consumer lending. BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail banking model in the Mediterranean basin countries, Turkey, and Eastern Europe, and has an extensive network in the western United States. In Corporate & Investment Banking and Investment Solutions, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas, and solid and fast-growing businesses in Asia Pacific.
Université Laval, located in the world heritage city of Québec, is the oldest French-language university in North America. One of Canada's top research universities, it is ranked 8th with funding in excess of $300 million. Université Laval boasts more than 260 research centres, chairs, institutes, and groups, including two Canada Excellence Research Chairs, 73 Canada Research Chairs, and 50 Research Partnership Chairs. The main research themes are culture and creation, life and health, education and society, environment and sustainable development, and innovative materials and technology.
SOURCE: Université Laval
For further information: Andrée-Anne Stewart, Media Relations, Université Laval, 418-656-3952, 418-254-3141, [email protected]; Guy Litalien, M.A. APR, Senior Consultant, Zone Franche, 514-317-5715, ext. 214, 514-772-4008, [email protected]