Ottawa Environmental groups are calling for the restoration of funding of an arctic climate and ozone research station. The Eureka Arctic Stratospheric Ozone Observatory, located on Ellesmere Island, will see already diminished operations end in March of next year and will fully close shortly thereafter, pending efforts by scientists to obtain alternate sources of funding.
The removal of federal funding further throws into doubt the nature of the government's actual commitment to action on ozone depletion and climate change and its commitment to supporting Canadaís international role in further studying these phenomena, says John Bennett, Director of Atmosphere and Energy for the Sierra Club of Canada.
The Eureka Arctic Stratospheric Ozone Observatory is an ultra-modern station that began operation in 1993. The station is not only a world-class ozone research centre but was the first location to propose the notion that climate change could result in further ozone depletion.
The station worked with the World Meteorological Organization of the UN and as such the ozone observatory enabled Canada to take its place in a global network of highly sophisticated ozone-measuring stations. The instrumentation at this station was state of the art and included Canadian technology recognized as the worlds most accurate in ozone measurement. The station also benefited from a near-ideal geographical position and an exceptionally clear sky to perform some crucial experiments.
The station costs almost 1 million dollars to operate annually. Its budget was reduced to $500,000 for the past 3 years and will be heated and maintained in the short term in the hopes that scientists might be able to find university-based funding.
University funding is not guaranteed and works by short term funding of individual projects. This typically means 2 to 4 years, says Colin Dobson, Sierra Club climate change campaigner. Continued climate and ozone monitoring for a number of decades is essential as our earth warms and the future of the ozone layer remains uncertain. Such a relatively small amount of money would clearly be well spent.
The list of concerned groups includes the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute, the Toronto Coalition for a Green Economy and the Yukon Conservation Society.