wast alert

Alert, Nunavut

Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut Canada, is the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world.

Alert was reported to have five permanent inhabitants according to 2006 census. It also has many temporary inhabitants as it hosts a military signals intelligence radio receiving facility at Canadian Forces Station Alert (CFS Alert), as well as a co-located Environment Canada weather station, a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmosphere monitoring laboratory, and the Alert Airport.


Alert is named after HMS Alert, a British ship which wintered about away in 1875-76.

Sir George Nares was the first known person to reach the northern end of Ellesmere Island; he arrived on HMS Alert in 1875–1876. The weather station was established in 1950, and the military station in 1958.

Nine crew members of an Royal Canadian Air Force Lancaster died in a crash while making an airdrop of supplies to the station in 1950.

A C-130 Hercules, part of Operation Boxtop 22, crashed about short of the runway on October 30, 1991. Of the 18 aboard, 4 died in the crash, while the pilot died during the 30 hours that it took search and rescue teams to reach the crash site under blizzard conditions. Several books, including "Death and Deliverance: The True Story of an Airplane Crash at the North Pole" by Robert Mason Lee, were written, and a film, Ordeal In The Arctic, starring Richard Chamberlain, was based on the event.

Current events

As of April 13, 2006 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was reporting that the heating costs for the station had risen. As a result of the rising costs the Canadian Forces proposed cutbacks to support jobs by using private contractors.


Alert is located west of Cape Sheridan, the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island, on the shore of ice-covered Lincoln Sea. Lying just from the North Pole, the nearest Canadian city is Iqaluit, away.

The settlement is surrounded by a rugged terrain of hills and valleys. The shore is composed primarily of slate and shale, and the sea is covered with pack ice year-round. The local climate is actually semi-arid. However, evaporation rates are also very low, as average monthly temperatures are above freezing only in July and August. There is 24-hour daylight from the last week of March until the middle of September and the sun is above the horizon from mid-April until August. From mid-October until the end of February the sun does not rise above the horizon and there is 24-hour darkness.

Other places on Ellesmere Island are the research base at Eureka and the Inuit community of Grise Fiord.


Alert has a polar climate. This means it is very cold and has snow cover for 11 months of the year. The warmest month, July, has an average temperature of just . The climate type also means that Alert is very dry, averaging only of precipitation per year. Most of the precipitation is snow and occurs during the months of July, August and September. On average there is of rain which occurs between June and September. Alert sees very little snow during the rest of the year.

Also in April 2006, the Roly McLenahan Torch, used to light the flame in Whitehorse, Yukon for the 2007 Canada Games, passed through Alert.

In August 2006, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, made a visit to Alert as part of his campaign to promote Canadian sovereignty in the north.

See also


Further reading

  • Bottenheim, Jan W, Hacene Boudries, Peter C Brickell, and Elliot Atlas. 2002. "Alkenes in the Arctic Boundary Layer at Alert, Nunavut, Canada". Atmospheric Environment. 36, no. 15: 2585.
  • Diggle, Dennis A., and David G. Otto. Drilling of an Arctic Protected Cable Route, Alert, Ellesmere Island, N.W.T. [Victoria, B.C.]: Defence Research Establishment Pacific, Research and Development Branch, Dept. of National Defence, 1994.
  • Morrison, R. I. G., N. C. Davidson, and Theunis Piersma. Daily Energy Expenditure and Water Turnover of Shorebirds at Alert, Ellesmere Island, N.W.T. Progress notes (Canadian Wildlife Service), no. 211. Ottawa: Canadian Wildlife Service, 1997. ISBN 0662257952

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