A catalyst for Canada's arctic research
Established in 1958, the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) assists scientists from around the world to better understand Canada’s final frontier: the Arctic. Managed and co-ordinated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), PCSP provides Canadian and international scientists and research teams with cost-effective logistics and consulting and support services.
These services are crucial to working in the Canadian Arctic. The very elements that make the Arctic so alluring – its remoteness; its stark, cold beauty; and its infinite mysteries – can also make it forbidding and dangerous, a difficult place to conduct research. With the help of PCSP, however, scientists continue to safely visit and study this region. In doing so, scientists are expanding our knowledge and insight of, and our respect for, this enigmatic land.
Scientists working in the Canadian Arctic study sea ice coverage, rock formation, air surface temperatures, soil contaminants, ocean fluxes, lake chemistry, circumpolar winds, wildlife and marine mammal populations, fish stocks, vegetation patterns and more. The information they gain is used for a variety of important purposes, including the following:
- understanding the causes of Arctic climate change and how we can predict future changes
- protecting the Canadian Arctic's environment
- generating geological maps that can help Canada harness the Arctic's mineral and hydrocarbon resources and contribute to economic development
- surveying and mapping the Arctic polar shelf. This work could lead to international recognition of Canada's rights to its continental shelf, located under the Arctic Ocean
- supporting Canada's sovereignty of its Arctic region
- capturing Inuit traditional knowledge and archaeological data
Helping scientists meet Arctic challenges
Every year, PCSP serves as many as 1100 scientists. These scientists conduct more than 165 projects at more than 60 field camps in the Canadian Arctic. Researchers count on PCSP as a reliable and cost-effective source of research equipment, supplies and support. They also look to PCSP for expert advice from trained individuals who know the Arctic first-hand.
PCSP provides all the services researchers need to make their projects more efficient, comfortable and successful. For instance, PCSP recommends how to safely transport dangerous materials and advises on organizing and managing logistics. PCSP also provides advice on the safety and cultural aspects of working in the Arctic. In short, PCSP helps scientists get to the Canadian Arctic and into the field, conduct their research and return home safely.
Professionally serving Arctic researchers since 1958
Over the decades, PCSP has built a logistics support network that stretches approximately 2160 kilometres from Alaska to Greenland and from the Arctic Circle to the geographic North Pole. Operating from Resolute Bay in the eastern Arctic, PCSP provides a range of services, including the following:
Air and overland transportation
PCSP organizes aircraft services throughout the Canadian Arctic, offering scientists the safest and most efficient air travel available to and from field camps. PCSP also provides vehicles suitable for all types of terrain.
Researchers can rely on PCSP's radio communications network to keep in touch with colleagues and PCSP staff. This network connects PCSP bases with remote science field camps. PCSP also provides satellite telephones for all parties working in the field.
Navigation and global positioning
PCSP uses sophisticated navigation and global positioning systems that serve both coastal and interisland areas. These systems act as a safety net in the event of storms and other dangerous situations.
NRCan's Technical Field Support Services Unit is a core component of PCSP. This unit provides a variety of field equipment to researchers. PCSP also arranges supplies and stores equipment and vehicles over the winter.
Accommodations and working space
Beginning in April 2011, the PCSP facility in Resolute will nearly double its capacity to accommodate scientists. The expansion will provide a new kitchen, dining and common space, new offices, meeting rooms and single bedrooms suitable for longer stays at the facility. The expansion also provides a new, stand-alone laboratory facility that includes three separated lab areas, a walk-in freezer and cooler, a -80°C freezer, fume hoods, a compressed-air supply, a water purification system, sinks and electrical outlets for computers and specialized equipment.
PCSP's position as a trusted member of the Canadian Arctic community generates numerous benefits. PCSP provides employment and business opportunities for local residents.
As well, through its long-term co-operation with Canadian Arctic residents, experience in assisting with projects and sensitivity to local issues, PCSP can advise researchers on the permitting, licensing and environmental assessment process and can help them deal with other issues that make research possible.
PCSP also helps researchers bring science outreach to northern communities and schools. PCSP was a major supporter of the International Polar Year.
PCSP Advisory Board
The PCSP Advisory Board provides PCSP and senior managers in Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) with guidance and advice on:
- the logistical services and directions for PCSP to meet the needs of Arctic science;
- the screening processes of project proposals;
- the consideration of traditional knowledge and Arctic communities' interests; and
- the membership of the PCSP Science Screening Committee, which reviews university based, non Canadian or independent applications, to ensure fairness, equity and transparency.
For further information on PCSP's services and pricing, contact
Polar Continental Shelf Program
Natural Resources Canada
615 Booth Street, Room 487
Ottawa ON K1A 0E9
Web site: http://www.pcsp.nrcan.gc.ca