Arctic climate research lab funding renewed for two more years: Duncan

Canada's high arctic research station is being given at least a two-year reprieve as the federal government steps up with new funding. A rock cairn marks a high point near the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) near the Eureka Weather Station, on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, on Monday, July 24, 2006. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

OTTAWA - Canada's high Arctic research station is being given at least a two-year reprieve as the federal government steps up with new funding.

Science Minister Kirsty Duncan says $1.6 million will be provided to keep the Polar Environmental Atmospheric Research Laboratory, or PEARL, running until the fall of 2019.

"PEARL is a unique facility," said Duncan. "It is most northern in Canada, and it looks at the atmosphere, it looks at climate change, ozone depletion and the interaction between the atmosphere, ice and ocean. So, today's a good day."

The station is on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, about 1,100 kilometres from the North Pole and is used by scientists to research ozone depletion, pollution, and climate changes in the Arctic.

Global warming is happening much faster in the Arctic and PEARL is one of a handful of research stations in the world helping understand the changes.

This is the second time in five years PEARL was rescued. In 2012 the Conservatives eliminated the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Services, which had funded the laboratory.

But an outcry led to the creation of the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research program, which included funding for PEARL over five years.

Scientists were alarmed when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-avowed science lover, failed to use the 2017 budget to renew that financing.

PEARL is one of six projects funded through the program and there is no word yet on what will happen to the approximately $6 million in annual funding for any of the others.

Katie Gibbs, executive director of Evidence for Democracy, said it is good news but it's incomplete.

"There is still a gap," she said.

"We really think now is an essential time for Canada to be a leader in climate science."

She said the fact PEARL's funding is only for two years leaves its long-term future uncertain.

Evidence for Democracy filed a petition with Ottawa to extend PEARL's funding and she said some people she spoke with after the announcement Wednesday feared the save-PEARL campaign will have to be resurrected in just two years.

Duncan said there are other pots of cash available to fund the other projects, but Gibbs said there don't seem to be any federal funds that fit them.

— follow @mrabson on Twitter.

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