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The Changing Cryosphere: From Sensors to Decision-making

International Arctic Field School

March 2 - 9, 2018, Iqaluit (Nunavut), Canada


Under the leadership of the Sentinel North strategy of Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), the International Arctic Field School provided 30 international and northern students with a unique opportunity to interact with high-profile scientists, local experts and managers as part of a transdisciplinary training program that addresses the complex and interrelated scientific and socio-economic issues linked to the changing Arctic cryosphere.

Participants experienced a hands-on integrative training with a wide range of disciplines such as optics/photonics, arctic ecology, chemistry, geology and human health. They were also provided tools for community engagement, international networking and collaboration in research.

This huge achievement was made possible thanks to the key collaboration with the Nunavut Research Institute and the Nunavut Arctic College.



international students


students from the NAC


mentors and experts






Read the Field Report



I had so much fun meeting students and mentors from around the world and learning about many areas of Arctic science. Going out on the land and the sea ice was an excellent complement to the talks and in-class exercises and helped me begin to understand the Arctic.

Jonathan Raberg, PhD Student, Dept of Geological Sciences - Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
University of Colorado

The IAFS in Iqaluit was a fantastic experience. It is really hard to choose just one favourite part of the school, but working with community members was definitely a highlight. Going out on the land with local Environmental Technology Program students, Inukpak Outfitters, and mentors provided me with an entirely new perspective of the cryosphere. Thank you!

Gillian Thiel, M.Sc. Candidate, Physical Geography
Queen's University

I don't think people have really sunk in what a accomplishment it is. It truly is an opportunity for young, early career scientists to work with our students in our environment. I think the students from the south will learn a bit about Inuit language and culture.

Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior research officer
Nunavut Research Institute

I really enjoyed my experience at the IAFS. It made me aware of the differences between conducting northern and southern research as the physical and social conditions are different, and to learn this was an opportunity that I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere. As a bonus, I got the opportunity to test the prototype of my master's project as part of the training.

Gabriel Lachance, M.Sc. Candidate, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Université Laval

The IAFS taught me the basics of snow, glaciers, permafrost, and related circumpolar sciences so that I may bring this knowledge forward in my interdisciplinary health sciences research, in an aim to better understand how climate change impacts northern populations’ food security, nutrition, and chronic disease management.

Sappho Z. Gilbert, MPH, PhD Student, Dept of Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Yale School of Public Health / Climate Change & Health Initiative

Sentinel North IAFS gave me a solid idea for my next research in Nunavut because I met the right people to carry it out which the IAFS made a connection for me. Thank you again and best wishes for the Sentinel North's future endeavors!

Yukari Hori, Postdoctoral fellow, Dept. of Physical and Environmental Sciences
University of Toronto Scarborough

For the students here, Sentinel North is fairly important because it puts more of a human face on the researchers.

Catriana Popoff, ETP student
Nunavut Arctic College

I was very proud to be a part of the Sentinel North IAFS. Seeing the students from ETP in Iqaluit come together with students from around the southern world, listen to one another, and learn from one another, was very cool. I feel that this is exactly the sort of thing that northern research needs.

Keegan Smith, M.Sc., Research Technician, Global Water Futures
McMaster University

The international students are getting a different perspective about life in the North from NAC students. They will learn things that they might not read in newspapers. I am hoping that when they leave, they will have realized that the changes that are going on in the Arctic are not just happening to the wilderness and the ecosystems, but that it is happening to people, their families, their livelihood and their culture.

Jason Carpenter, Senior Instructor
Nunavut Arctic College

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  • Program

    The school maintained a sharp focus on the themes detailed below. The school favors a multi-faceted approach that includes lectures, case studies and field trips/excursions delivered by experts from various disciplines. It also integrates demonstrations of emerging optics/photonics technologies as key components to improve our understanding of the northern environment and its impact on human health.

    Climate and the arctic water cycle

    • Hydrology and snow dynamics
    • Glaciers, climate warming and mass balance

    Changing permafrost and impacts on infrastructure

    • Urban planning
    • Infrastructure monitoring systems

    Ecosystem response to a changing cryosphere

    • Snow-vegetation-soil interactions
    • Dynamics of terrestrial and coastal wildlife populations

    Impact on local and global societies

    • Travel safety
    • Food and water security
    • Cultural aspects
    • Circumpolar perspective

    The school will also enable the development of transversal skills such as international networking and collaboration, integration of traditional and scientific ecological knowledge for community-based monitoring programs, knowledge mobilization and informing policy.

    In addition to the scientific program, the school provides a unique cultural experience for both northern and international participants, and will seek to foster knowledge transfer locally through activities planned with the community of Iqaluit (public lectures, elders testimonials, etc.).


    Field visits / Excursions

    • Visit of the city of Iqaluit
    • Field trips to measure the different components of the cryosphere on the land (including: snow pit exercise, igloo building workshop, snow surveying, water chemistry profile measurements, etc.)
    • Visit of Iqaluit water management infrastructures
    • Excursion to the coastal sea ice, with a Smart ICE project demonstration

    Modelling exercices

    • Snow-vegetation-soil temperature exercice
    • Hydrological modelling exercices (2)
    • Mapping exercise: construction potential map
  • List of mentors

    • Trevor Bell, Professor, Department of Geography, U. Memorial of Newfoundland and Co-leader of Smart ICE

    • Jason Carpenter, Senior instructor, Nunavut Arctic College, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

    • Daniel Côté, Physics and biophotonics, Université Laval, Quebec city, Canada

    • Florent Domine, Senior scientist in snow physics, permafrost thermal regime, arctic climate, snow-vegetation-permafrost interactions, CNRS-Takuvik joint International Laboratory, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

    • Guy Doré, Professor, Department of Civil and Water Engineering, Université Laval, Canada

    • Murray Humphries, Associate professor, McGill University Northern Research Chair, Québec, Canada

    • Margareta Johansson, Executive secretary of INTERACT, Researcher at Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Sweden

    • Anne-Marie Leblanc, Researcher, Permaforst specialist, Natural resources Canada

    • Jean-Michel Lemieux, Professor, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

    • Murray Richardson, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental studies, Carleton University

    • Vicki Sahanatien, Wildlife management specialist

    • Jamal Shirley, Manager-Research design and policy development, Nunavut Research Institute

    • Mary Ellen Thomas, Senior Research Officer, Nunavut Research Institute, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada



    • Marie-France Gévry, IAFS/Training program coordinator, Sentinel North, Université Laval

    • Pascale Ropars, IAFS Coordination assistant & Postdoctoral fellow at UQAR

    • Keegan Smith, Field research technician, McMaster University
  • List of participants

    In addition to international students, northern students from the Environmental Technology Program of the Nunavut Arctic College participated to the School.


    • Akeeagok, Etuangat, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Akoak, David, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Appaqaq, Mick, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Boucher, Anulik, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Chesnokova, Anna, École de techologie supérieure, Canada
    • Cooley, Sarah, Brown University, USA
    • Cox, Neoma, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Escudé, Camille, Sciences Po Paris, France
    • Gilbert, Sappho, Yale School of Public Health, USA
    • Gustafson, Adrian, Lund University, Sweden
    • Hori, Yukari, University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada
    • Hung, Jacqueline, Queen's University, Canada
    • Lachance, Gabriel, Université Laval, Canada
    • Lackner, Georg, Université Laval, Canada
    • Lamontagne-Hallé, Pierrick, Université McGill, Canada
    • Lévesque-Desrosiers, Félix, Université Laval, Canada
    • Mosesie, Jenny, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Nungaq, Karen, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • O'Grady, Natalie, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Panchen, Zoé, Dalhousie University, Canada
    • Pereira Pedro, Sara, Joana University of Connecticut, USA
    • Perez-Mon, Carla, WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape research, Switzerland
    • Perron, Christophe, Université Laval, Canada
    • Popoff, Catriana, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Qittusuk, Jonah, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)
    • Raberg, Jonathan, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
    • Ramage, Justine, Potsdam University - Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany
    • Strand, Sarah, The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway
    • Thiel, Gillian, Queen's University, Canada
    • Ymana, Nicole, Nunavut Arctic College (ETP)



nunavut arctic college

nunavut research institute

centre optique photonique laser

Lund university

affaires autochtones et du nord du canada


carleton university


Logo INQ

Memorial University Logo

Ministère des ressources naturelles du Canada

Université McGill


inukpak outfitting



For more information, please contact:

Marie-France Gévry

Training programs coordinator
418-656-2131 ext. 8910