Deep freeze a boon for researchers, travel agents

Not all Winnipeggers are ruing the bone-chilling temperatures that have settled in southern Manitoba.

Scientist Feiyue Wang and his team of researchers at the University of Manitoba need a deep freeze to conduct their work.

The team works at the Sea-Ice Environmental Research Facility, where they study how sea ice forms and melts. Their lab is a giant outdoor salt-water pond. Wang said the team is hoping to broaden our understanding of climate change.

“We’re the only facility here in the country. Basically what we’re doing is to grow sea ice under a semi-controlled environment,” said Wang.

Wang said Winnipeg’s frosty weather provides a perfect spot for the research. The cool conditions allow researchers to replicate and study how sea ice forms and melts in polar oceans.

“It’s something very unique,” said Wang.

And despite the research benefits, Wang doesn’t particularly enjoy the weather.

“It’s hard to say that I love this weather, but this is the kind of environment that we work with. We are very much used to these kinds of conditions.”

The temperatures are also a boon for the city’s travel business. Travel agencies are reporting a surge in business since the mercury dipped.

“The phones have been busier,” said travel agent Laura Forrest. “People just wanting to know what kind of prices are available.”

A number of travel agencies contacted by CBC News said business is up by about 10 per cent. Forrest said she expects the increased number of bookings to continue for the duration of the cold snap.

That could mean an extension to the end of the week with no relief from high wind chills and temperatures in the –30s expected through the week.

Winnipeggers hoping for a reprieve from the bitterly cold temperatures will have to wait a bit longer. Forecasts are calling for cold temperatures and high windchills to continue, at least for another few days.

CBC weather specialist Marilyn Maki said Wednesday will reach a high of –26 C.

“Add winds to that, and we’re looking at windchill values tomorrow again in that dangerous zone between about –40 C and –42 C,” said Maki.

Maki said temperatures should ease up and return to around seasonal on the weekend.

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