Welcome to the NETCARE Website

NETCARE (Network on Climate and Aerosols: Addressing Key Uncertainties in Remote Canadian Environments) is a network comprised of researchers from ten Canadian universities (Toronto, UBC, UQAM, Waterloo, UQAR, Laval, Dalhousie, Calgary, Sherbrooke, Victoria) and five partner institutions (Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Alfred Wegener Institute, Max Planck Institute, Johannes Gutenberg University). NETCARE is one of seven networks funded by the new Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program at NSERC


Research Blog

Contribution of Arctic seabird-colony ammonia to atmospheric particles and cloud-albedo radiative effect

NETCARE scientists and their collaborators are working to better understand connections between the components of the Arctic climate system. A study recently published in Nature Communications links ammonia emissions from summertime Arctic seabird-colony guano to observations of newly formed atmospheric aerosol particles. As shown in the below figure, these particles can in turn influence Arctic cloud properties, with resultant climate effects.

Atmospheric particles and clouds play a key, yet not well-understood role in modulating surface temperature, and thus understanding the factors that influence their characteristics is essential. Central to the development of clouds is the availability of cloud condensation nuclei – small atmospheric particles upon which water can condense. Using a combination of observations and computer modeling, NETCARE scientists have determined that summertime Arctic migratory-seabird colonies emit sufficient ammonia to influence atmospheric particles and clouds. Whilst concentrated around the seabird colonies, these seabird-influenced particles can grow and spread through the Arctic, encouraging cloud-droplet formation. As a consequence of cloud-characteristic changes, more incoming sunlight can be reflected back to space, a cooling effect, though not strong enough to offset the impacts of anthropogenic climate change that has led to considerable warming in the Arctic. There are details of the seabird-particle-cloud-climate interconnections that are not yet fully understood, including other possible aerosol-cloud interactions, which will require future study before the net effect of seabird-colony guano on the Arctic climate system can be determined. This newly identified and fascinating ecological-atmospheric connection highlights the interconnectedness of the many components of Earth’s climate system.


-Betty Croft, NETCARE HQP, Dalhousie


Amundsen Campaign - Microlayer skimmer

The microlayer skimmer proved to be incredibly valuable during the 2016 NETCARE field campaign on board the CCGS Amundsen. The skimmer was designed to collect large volumes of the sea surface microlayer in a time efficient manner compared to manual hand sampling methods. We prepared for using the skimmer in the field way back in 2015 at the IOS in Victoria, where we spent a week to familiarize ourselves with the equipment. Despite some initial challenges with the skimmer’s deployment during the campaign, the operation of the skimmer quickly became a routine and effective procedure. 

Working on the skimmer from the side of the zodiac, with the Amundsen in the background.
Working on the skimmer from the side of the zodiac, with the Amundsen in the background.



Each time the skimmer was deployed, we would leave the Amundsen in a zodiac and tow the skimmer to a suitable sampling location. Working in the zodiac was a lot of fun and an excellent opportunity for us collect samples in the field. Deployments ranged between choppy conditions in the open Arctic ocean to calm waters amid large icebergs. In the end, we collected concurrent microlayer and subsurface water samples for nearly a dozen sampling locations to be analyzed for dimethyl sulphide, surfactants, ammonia, ice nucleating particles, and hygroscopicity.

NETCARE HQP Vickie Irish, Alex Moravek, and Matt Boyer deploying the skimmer with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard.
NETCARE HQP Vickie Irish, Alex Moravek, and Matt Boyer deploying the skimmer with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard.


I would like to give a special thanks to the Coast Guard crew for helping Vickie and I with each deployment and making everything run smoothly. Without their support, patience and expertise, we would not have been able to make the skimmer deployments a success.


-Matt Boyer, NETCARE graduate student, Dalhousie.


NETCARE Research Configuration

NETCARE has been configured around four research activities that address key uncertainties in the field. The first three are focused on specific aerosol-climate connections – Carbonaceous Aerosol (Activity 1), Ice Cloud Formation and Impacts (Activity 2), Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions (Activity 3) – that remain poorly characterized.  These will be addressed through a variety of observational approaches.  The fourth - Implications of Measurements on Simulations of Atmospheric Processes and Climate (Activity 4) – integrates the results from Activities 1-3, approaching the subject from a comprehensive modeling perspective so as to provide a broad assessment of aerosol climate effects.   The figure below illustrates the vision inherent to the network: