CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Station

The CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Station is CEN's principle research station and features wet and dry labs, a Community Science Centre with a conference room, a greenhouse, a cafeteria, and a dormitory. This station is located at the terrestrial boundary between taiga and  tundra, on the shores of eastern Hudson Bay and at the mouth of the Great Whale River. The station provides easy access to a diversity of subarctic landscapes and ecosystems.


The CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Station is owned and run by the Centre d’études nordiques (CEN) (www.cen.ulaval.ca) whose secretariat is based at the Université Laval, Québec, Canada. It is on Cree land and is run in collaboration with the Cree First Nation of Whapmagoostui. The station is located on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay at the maritime limit of James Bay, near the mouth of the Great Whale River. Station management is run by a local manager, present year-round.

This station is the CEN’s principal field station and has operated since the 1970s, with diverse research projects on past and present environments. Between 2007 and 2011, major upgrades to the station were undertaken, consisting of the construction of a state-of-art Community Science Centre to serve the needs of the circumpolar science community for research planning, information exchange, national research workshops, and coordination of field operations, and the local communities for information exchange, identification of northern research needs, science training of northerners, exchange of traditional knowledge, and outreach activities. The Centre offers a conference room with a capacity for 50 participants, a permanent, interactive display on local natural history and on CEN research activities. In addition to this new building, the station also has wet and dry laboratories, a greenhouse, a dormitory, a cafeteria (with full-meal services during the summer season), vehicles for rent, wireless internet, and rental of sampling and camping equipment.

The climate at Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is strongly influenced by the proximity of Hudson Bay, and the recent, pronounced loss of sea ice in this sector of northern Canada has been accompanied by large increases in air temperature. Discontinuous or scattered permafrost occurs throughout the region and is degrading rapidly.

Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is located at the terrestrial boundary between the taiga and the tundra. The community is built on a sandy headland, at the mouth of the Great Whale River. Granites covered by a thick layer of sand characterize the soils of the region. This region continues to experience particularly rapid isostatic uplift in response to the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Parabolic dunes occur along the coast and are strongly influenced by plant cover. South of the Great Whale River is the taiga zone (Boreal forest), while north of the river, the forest tundra zone progressively dominates the landscape. Locally, the vegetation type is coastal forest tundra, with some 400 recorded species. Paleoecological studies have documented the Holocene evolution of landscapes, including lakes, wetlands, and forests.

The Manitounuk Islands, located just a little to the north along the coast, are part of the Hudsonian cuestas found on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. These islands are characterized by rocky beaches on the side facing the open sea and vertiginous cliffs on the shore facing the coast.

Current research: Current projects include work on biodiversity and dynamics of northern aquatic ecosystems; impacts of melting permafrost in the context of global warming; wetlands paleoecology; restoration of vegetation in degraded sites, and research on mercury dynamics (air, precipitation, snow).

Past research: An overview of past studies in this region is given in: Bhiry, N., et al. 2011. Environmental change in the Great Whale River region, Hudson Bay: Five decades of multidisciplinary research by CEN. Ecoscience 18: 182-203.

Climatic and environmental data: CEN operates 2 climate stations from the CEN SILA Network (www.cen.ulaval.ca/sila) in the area of Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik and has collected extensive climate datasets since 1957. CEN is a member of the Canadian Radiological Monitoring Network and collects data for measuring external gamma radiation. The station also host a magnetometer of the AUTUMNX network managed by Athabasca University.

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 zooplanktonbiodiversityaquatic systems


The CEN Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik is open year-round. It is only accessible by commercial airlines (Air Inuit, Air Creebec and First Air). All research activities must be planned well in advance. No permits to conduct research are required, but the local communities and the station manager must be contacted to be informed of the proposed research. Local guides and translators are available for hire. Access to the surrounding area by chartered flights, boat and all-terrain vehicles can be organized by the station manager.

Contact information

The station manager can be reached by email:  station@cen.ulaval.ca or cen@cen.ulaval.ca, or at the station by telephone : +1-819-929-3319.


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