The Arctic Research Foundation (ARF) is a private, non-profit organization that builds sustainable scientific research, cultural projects and economic development in Canada’s North.
We work closely with communities, governments, universities and private partners to build innovative capacity in the Arctic to achieve meaningful collaborative goals.
- Coordinate and catalyze scientific, cultural and economic research in the Arctic by partnering with local communities, universities and other research institutions that require access to innovative infrastructure to successfully conduct critical program initiatives in Canada’s Arctic.
- Utilize innovative concepts to build and operate shallow draft vessels equipped with cutting-edge oceanographic equipment, and provide green-energy powered mobile research labs and reliable on-the-ground expertise.
- Maximize the benefits of Arctic research for northern communities by finding novel ways to transfer scientific knowledge and operational know-how to northern residents, while also listening and learning from traditional knowledge and expertise when it comes to the logistics of Arctic travel, access and conservation efforts.
Objectives: Vessels and labs with cost-effective accessibility
ARF’s accessible and innovative infrastructure and operations are based on both land and sea in Canada’s Northwest Passage, as well as on the West Coast and East Coast. We own and operate four capable research vessels: R/V Martin Bergmann, R/V Kitimat II, R/V Jenny Pierre and, newly added to the fleet, R/V White Diamond. ARF is the only organization to overwinter its research ship in the Northwest Passage. With our home ports in the North, our ships are on the water as soon as the ice melts, whereas southern-based ships must travel to the North, a journey that takes about 20 days, when the ice clears. This means ARF and its research clients can take full advantage of the Arctic’s short navigable summer season to perform scientific research and complete other time-sensitive projects.
To provide additional remote land-based support to research and northern projects of interest, ARF designed and developed an ingenious solution to the North’s limited infrastructure: mobile self-powered research labs. Built out of sea containers, making them easy to transport by cargo ship or land-based “CAT” train over snow or ice, ARF's four labs are heated, insulated and equipped with toilets, water purifiers and satellite communication links. Some labs are outfitted with scientific equipment, while others function as mobile art studios. All labs are capable of plugging into existing power networks or running completely off the grid, drawing electricity through solar panels or wind turbines. Best of all, they can be moved to wherever they’re needed — from remote Arctic research sites to bustling tourist areas. The labs operate as mini research stations that further extend research and monitoring to remote regions of the Arctic.
We are a not-for-profit organization.
Drive ARF's vision by addressing the following limitations in Canada's Arctic:
- Arctic Canadian Coast Guard research ships are difficult to access and too costly to purchase ship time.
- Private (for-profit) vessel owners cannot profitably operate research ships in the Arctic. The operating costs are too high for too short of a season, particularly because so much of the cost involves moving the vessel to the North, a transit which, on average, takes about 20 days or more and then further limits (or completely eliminates) the operable eight- to 12-week Arctic season.
- Large research ships cannot access many scientifically relevant bays, inlets and large expanses of uncharted areas.
- Government vessels do not dedicate enough time to scientific inquiry.
- Shallow water and coastal areas are among the most biologically and scientifically relevant zones, but they are the most unknown zones in the Arctic and are too shallow for large ships.
- Infrastructure for sustainable, cost-effective field camps that provide power to run scientific equipment are limited to only a few locations across the Arctic.
Continuing with ARF’s vision and past accomplishments, the foundation will:
- develop research ships and mobile science lab capacity; and
- coordinate research programs with and facilitate programs between governments, communities and research organizations.
- Regions of additional focus for ARF in this time frame include Hudson Bay, the Northwest Territories (Great Bear and Great Slave lakes), and the Great Mountain Lakes of the Yukon.
Catalyze domestic and international partnerships to allow:
- shared revenue and collaborative research opportunities;
- a harmonized global vision of Arctic cooperation; and
- ARF’s continued leadership in science and cultural and economic development in the Arctic.