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2.6 Beacons Of Northern Dynamics – Developing light-based sensing technologies to monitor climate active gases in a mutating Arctic

Principal Investigators

Réal Vallée, Guillaume Massé

Co-Investigators

Michel Allard, Martin Bernier, Mario Leclerc, Maurice Levasseur, Younès Messaddeq, Michel Piché, Jean-Éric Tremblay, Warwick Vincent

Collaborators

Martine Lizotte, Vincent Fortin

Collaborators outside U. Laval

François Babin, Martin Chamberland, Pierre Tremblay, Sangeeta Sharma, Knut von Salzen, Patrick Lajeunesse

Project summary

The impetus underpinning the BOND project lies in the urgency to monitor the fast-pace changes in the Arctic environment. Ongoing climate shifts are provoking profound modifications in the atmosphere as well as in physical landmarks and most prominently within the cryosphere comprised of sea ice, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets and permafrost. Important changes in the rate and timing of freshwater discharge are also expected. These wavering northern environments are hosts to diverse and complex ecosystems, within which biogeochemical cycles of major elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur drive the overturning and exchanges of climate active (CA) gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and dimethylsulfide. Gaining insight into the abiotic- and biotic-driven kinetics of these CA gases requires high-frequency measurements of fluxes and reservoirs: a challenging endeavour in these remote areas. Various optical approaches will be explored in order to meet the challenges related to real-time and remote detection of CA gases in the atmospheric boundary layer and soils as well as aquatic environments themselves.

To address the challenges of atmospheric and aquatic gas detection, BOND will build upon and further achieve technological advancements on photonic devices. Atmospheric gas detection will rely on specially designed mid-IR coherent sources whereas underwater probing challenges will be tackled through the development of optode sensors based on the synthesis of new chelating fluorescent complexes. In-house development of these monitoring systems will first be achieved, followed by their in-situ deployment in the Arctic environment. Parallel laboratory experiments implementing novel bio-reactors coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (MIMS) analysis will allow fine-scale resolution of the processes driving CA gas kinetics. Together, these pioneering approaches will materialize BOND's main objective: the implementation of leading-edge optical monitoring devices acting as the early warning Beacons Of Northern Dynamics.