There are five national parks in Nunavut representing various examples of Canada’s 39 natural regions – Quttinirpaaq (Eastern High Arctic), Sirmilik (Eastern Arctic Lowlands), Ukkusiksalik (Central Tundra), Auyuittuq (Northern Davis), and Qausuittuq (Western High Arctic).

Quttinirpaaq, Inuktitut for “Land at the Top of the World”, is a vast, ancient, sprawling landscape in the extreme High Arctic that has the expected: ice caps enclosing mountains, kilometres thick glaciers, worn mountains, and sparse tundra. But it also has the unexpected: the highest mountain in eastern North America (Barbeau Peak) and a thermal oasis in the Lake Hazen area. Lake Hazen, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the world above the Arctic Circle, has remarkably lush vegetation and supports higher densities of wildlife than the rest of the park. Wildlife are so unaccustomed to humans that they do not react in fear.

Conservation and research

Established in 1988 on Ellesmere Island, Quttinirpaaq National Park occupies the northernmost portion of the Canadian High Arctic. The park is remarkable for its extensive glaciers and ice caps, desert-like conditions, and life forms that are uniquely adapted to the extreme polar environment. Quttinirpaaq is the second largest national park in Canada, protecting 37 775 km2 of eastern High Arctic ecosystem.

Environment

The midnight sun, rugged mountains, glaciers, polar desert and an oasis in the Arctic are all features that contribute to the uniqueness of the northernmost national park in Canada.