CEN Umiujaq Research Station

The CEN Umiujaq Research Station is located directly in the small community of Umiujaq (Northen Québec, Canada), on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay. The station provides access to a rich diversity of landscapes for research on terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.

The Umiujaq Research Station is owned and run by the Centre d’études nordiques (CEN, www.cen.ulaval.ca). In previous years and still today, CEN researchers use a building/warehouse that has shared ownership (CEN, Anniturvik Landholding Corporation, and Makivik Corporation). In 2010, CEN undertook major station upgrades and restored the warehouse (still shared with its partners), built a vehicle garage, and a three-bedroom house.

The village is located 15 km north of Richmond Gulf (Lac Guillaume-Delisle), an immense inland bay connected to the Hudson Bay via a rocky gulch resembling a canyon. In front of the village are the Nastapoka Islands (cuestas) where many species of birds, such as common loons, eider ducks and peregrine falcons, find summer shelter and nest. The sheltered maritime environment features sporadic black spruce and larch, but the surrounding area is characterized by shrub tundra, discontinuous permafrost (mostly palsa bogs), and thermokarst lakes.

About 30 km north of Umiujaq is the Nastapoka River with its scenic 30 m high falls. The headwater lakes of the river contain a unique population of landlocked freshwater seals and many fish species. A salmon population that does not migrate can be found downstream of the river. The estuary waters are rich in brook trout, white fish, seal, and beluga.

Past and present research has focused on permafrost studies, coastal geology, and geomorphological characterization of the region. Some work on the social dimensions has been conducted over time. Other research topics cover biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems, impacts of thawing permafrost in the context of global warming, wetlands paleoecology; research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow), snow and ice dynamics, greenhouse gas emissions from thermokarst ponds and tundra, sea and lake bottom mapping, plant community dynamics and response of northern plants to climate change.

Climatic and environmental data: CEN has collected extensive climate data since 1997 and still operates four climate stations from the CEN SILA Network (www.cen.ulaval.ca/sila) in the area. Thermistor cables are also installed to monitor permafrost temperature (measured environmental variables).

Nordicana-D: CEN's Nordicana-D series freely and openly give access to online climatic and environmental data reports archived at CEN, aiding the management of the wealth of environmental data sets produced by CEN's monitoring and research activities.

The following data series is available for this area: CEN 2014. Environmental data from the Umiujaq region in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada, v. 1.2 (1997-2014). Nordicana D9, doi: 10.5885/45120SL-067305A53E914AF0; Fortier, R. 2015. Groundwater monitoring network from the Umiujaq region in Nunavik, Quebec, Canada, v. 1.2 (2012-2015). Nordicana D19, doi: 10.5885/45309SL-15611D6EC6D34E23; Allard, M., Sarrazin, D., L’Hérault, E. 2015. Borehole and near-surface ground temperatures in northeastern Canada, v. 1.3 (1988-2014). Nordicana D8, doi: 10.5885/45291SL-34F28A9491014AFD.

Visit the Website www.cen.ulaval.ca/nordicanad/ to view the complete list of available data.

Archeological studies and community based monitoring activities also take place including Avativut " Science in Nunavik, high school students learning in relation to their territory " (www.cen.ulaval.ca/avativut).

This station is part of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators (CNNRO, www.cnnro.ca) and the international network INTERACT (www.eu-interact.org).

Institution Université Laval
Country Canada
Infrastructure type Research station
Disciplines Biology and biochemistry
Environmental sciences
Earth sciences
Natural environments and wildlife
Language of operation Inuktitut
Keywords snow and icepermafrosthydrologygroundwatergeomorphologygeologyaquatic systems


The station and related services are available to all researchers (university, college, governmental and private) working in the area. The station can also accommodate small groups of students.
Availability : The station is available year-round. View the calendar of reservation for availability and contact CEN to make a reservation.
Cost : See the rate schedule to know the rental costs and packages offered.  Note that a weekly booking includes 7 nights

Contact information

Contact the CEN station manager and secretariat by email : station@cen.ulaval.ca and cen@cen.ulaval.ca, or by telephone : +1-819-929-3319 or +1-418-656-3340.

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