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This article was published 8/2/2012 (3145 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba are excited about home ice, and their zeal doesn't have anything to do with the Winnipeg Jets.
They unveiled Wednesday an innovative saltwater pond to study how climate change affects sea ice. The first in Canada, it's called the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility and it aims to give researchers a better understanding of contaminants in the Arctic.
Wearing an oversized, red Canadian Goose jacket, Feiyue Wang, professor of environmental chemistry and SERF team leader, described how he started doing Arctic research eight years ago. He said he would travel between Quebec and the Arctic on the Canadian icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, but now the research can be done closer to home.
SERF, located in the university's Smartpark, features an outdoor saltwater pond that is 18 metres long, nine metres wide and 2.4 metres deep. It's equipped with a movable roof and various sensors, which will let Wang and his team compare the formation of sea ice in conditions similar to the Arctic.
"Sea-ice loss in the last 30 years has been dramatic," Wang said, adding every year the Arctic loses sea ice the size of Lake Superior.
Typically, people do small-scale research in a beaker or an ice tank, but SERF will help tackle two of the biggest challenges to Arctic research -- controllability and scale.
"While it may seem simplistic to do research in ice, it is very important to the environment," said Albert Friesen, a board member of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a federal government initiative that funds research.
Before SERF, sea-ice research was slow and long because of the extreme geography, said Sarah Beattie, a master's student in environmental chemistry at the U of M.
"Now we can get can get all our data right away, we can make modifications to our projects, basically, and we can be very effective with our science," Beattie said.
"It's always such a treat to go up North, but I'm excited that we can now bring the Arctic here to Winnipeg," Beattie said.
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