OTTAWA, ONTARIO — A new report provides evidence that the CCGS Amundsen, Canada’s only dedicated research icebreaker, reinforces the nation’s international reputation in Arctic science by supporting an “impressive” breadth of research. The Platform Outcome Measurement Study (POMS), an evaluation tool used by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) — one of the Amundsen’s early funders — assessed the ship’s research activities and achievements since its first expedition in 2003. The report also evaluated the degree to which investments made by CFI and other funders have contributed to the significant transformation of Canada’s research in the Arctic.
A panel of four international experts, including Martin Taylor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria and former president of Oceans Network Canada, noted among their key findings that the icebreaker supports a spectrum of multidisciplinary research that touches almost every component of the Arctic environment: air, earth, ice and sea. The panel concluded the research enabled by the ship has made an important contribution to advancing the scientific understanding of the Arctic and has also led to the training of new generations of students, and that the Amundsen’s research program supports all four pillars of Canada’s Northern Strategy, since the data generated aboard the ship contributes to the protection of ecosystems, economic development, governance and Arctic sovereignty. The panel praised the CFI’s central role in creating and sustaining the Amundsen and its mission in the North through investments totaling more than $40 million for on-board research infrastructure and a retrofit of the ship.
“The Amundsen clearly represents a remarkable facility,” says Larry Mayer, one of the expert reviewers and the Director of the Centre for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. “It has been transformative with respect to Canadian Arctic science and the Canadian scientific community.” Cairn Ashjian, Senior Scientist in the Department of Biology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution suggested the Amundsen has received a “near dazzling synergy” of funding support from industry and organizations, including the CFI.
In virtually all assessment categories, the experts ranked the Amundsen as high, validating the ship as an agent in dramatically advancing research in Canada’s North. However, they noted the Amundsen also faces challenges, such as the ongoing struggle to fund the significant costs of operating and maintaining a state-of-the-art research vessel in such harsh Arctic conditions over a typical research season of more than 140 days. Despite these challenges, the report’s authors suggest the Amundsen is a “jewel in the crown of Canadian science” placing Canada amongst nations known for research excellence in the Arctic.