top of page
  • Writer's pictureHeather Almeda


Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Mobile research lab in Cabridge Bay Nunavut, photo courtesy of Brent Else.

The non-profit Arctic Research Foundation, a private organization that collaborates with scientists and Inuit communities, has created mobile labs from discarded shipping containers. Equipped with solar panels and wind turbines, they are able to generate more than enough electricity and can be moved easily from one research site to another. This gives scientists access to more information than is available from stationary facilities, and provides the opportunity to power extra equipment such as an observatory, a weather station, other communications equipment - or even an entire camp.

University of Calgary geographer, and Ocean Acidification Community of Practice co-Lead Brent Else, has packed one lab with equipment that measures how the ocean absorbs greenhouse gases, an important factor in understanding how the Arctic responds to and influences climate change.

“Flexibility is key,” says Adrian Schimnowski, the Arctic Research Foundation’s CEO and operations manager. “We can easily adapt these labs to a wide variety of science projects: geology, archaeology, biology or even marine research.”

The labs are intended to provide direct service to the community as well as long term data to researchers. The labs can act as weather stations to provide better information on wind conditions and temperature along travel routes, can serve as caches of emergency supplies for stranded travelers, and can also be used to improve communications in remote areas.

“We are guests on Inuit land,” says Schimnowski, “and Inuit know how to live off the land better than anyone else. We receive support from the community in many different ways, and so out of respect we provide support to the community. It’s a way of saying thank you.”

This article was adapted from Canadian Geographic by Heather Almeda. 2018.



bottom of page