A historic grant of $154,414,655 was awarded to four partner Canadian universities (Dalhousie University in Halifax, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Université Laval) by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. From 2023 to 2030, the consortium will carry out an ambitious research program on the role of the ocean in climate change and on climate change mitigation measures in the marine environment.

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Various sources of evidence show that carbon-intensive human activity has destabilized crucial elements of the Earth system that determine climate. To date, the ocean has absorbed 40% of emissions linked to the combustion of fossil fuels and 90% of the heat coming from anthropogenic global warming through a set of processes forming the “ocean carbon pump”. However, the ocean is transforming at an uncertain rate and its capacity to protect against the effects of human activity could be lacking, which would greatly exacerbate climate change and compromise efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

To adapt to a changing climate, the human species must very quickly acquire a better understanding of the mechanisms by which the oceans react to this phenomenon. The Transforming Climate Action (TCA) program aims to develop the transformative solutions required and demonstrate their effectiveness. The initiative offers three interrelated research themes focused on the North Atlantic, which absorbs 30% of global ocean carbon. It will produce transdisciplinary studies relevant to society, in collaboration with Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, governments and international partners, to guide actions to combat climate change in Canada.

Through more diligent and thoughtful observation of the main ocean processes at play in the North Atlantic, the initiative will temper certain major uncertainties relating to the link between the ocean and climate through, among other things, improved observation air-sea carbon fluxes, deep convection and carbon uptake by the ocean floor. Recent technological advances will make it possible to synthesize ocean data at a higher level than was previously possible, a synthesis that will directly guide climate policies.