Climate change research mission canceled — Due to climate change
The BaySys expedition was being led by Arctic specialist, David Barber from the University of Manitoba. Barber was joined by over 40 scientists from five other universities across Canada in the first leg of the 133-day expedition as part of a $17 million, four-year project that was to study the effects of climate change as well as look at public health in remote areas. According to the University of Manitoba, BaySys “aims to contribute to a scientific basis to understand the relative contributions of climate change and regulation on the Hudson Bay system. The role of freshwater in Hudson Bay will be investigated through field-based experimentation coupled with climatic-hydrological-oceanographic -biogeochemical modeling.” Arctic study in Canada has been accomplished through a long-standing collaboration between the Canadian Coast Guard’s CCSG Amundson and university-led Arctic science. The partnership dates back to 2003. The Hudson Bay summer expedition this year was one of three major parts of the BaySys project.
The Strait of Belle Isle is the narrow stretch of water between Newfoundland and Labrador.
Very severe ice conditions The trip began on May 25 in Quebec City, however, almost immediately, the icebreaker was forced to divert from its course due to severe ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland to help ferries and fishing boats navigate the Strait of Belle Isle, reports CBC News. Actually, it was decided to begin the expedition six days ahead of schedule so that the Amundson could participate in critical marine safety and security operations in the unusually thick ice conditions in the Strait of Belle Isle and along the northeast coast of Newfoundland before beginning the Science Mission. Because of the severity of the ice conditions in the region, safety was a prime issue. With a second week of delay, it was clear the team’s research objectives would not be met and for this reason, the expedition was canceled. “Considering the severe ice conditions and the increasing demand for Search And Rescue operations (SAR) and ice escort, we decided to cancel the BaySys mission. The challenge for us all was that the marine ice hazards were exceedingly difficult for the maritime industry, the CCG, and science,” said Barber, who is also one of the world’s leading authorities on Arctic ice. But, thick ice and climate change? We hear so much about the Arctic’s thinning ice cover, so why would extreme thick ice be another indication of climate change? While helping the crew of the Amundson with search and rescue operations, the scientists were still able to determine that most of the thick ice in the Strait of Belle Isle and off Newfoundland’s coast originated in the high Arctic, reports Phys.Org.
A photo taken on June 8 shows ice on the water near Newfoundland.
“This is the first time we’ve actually seen ice from the High Arctic,” said Barber, who has studied the impacts of climate change on sea ice for decades. Dr. Barber explains: “Climate-related changes in Arctic sea ice not only reduce its extent and thickness but also increase its mobility, meaning that ice conditions are likely to become more variable and severe conditions such as these will occur more often.” Dr. Louis Fortier, Scientific Director of the Amundsen and ArcticNet Science programs said the cancellation of this part of the project will not affect the remainder of the expedition. It will resume on July 6. “We believe that the oceanographic studies will proceed as planned and do not anticipate an impact on the Nunavut Inuit Health Survey.” Barber says the experience was an eye-opener for scientists and provides a valuable lesson on climate change for the Canadian government. “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. It comes south,” he said. “We’re simply ill-prepared.”