Research finds Hudson Bay Lowlands have undergone enormous environmental changes in the past two decades

Oct 11, 2013
Research finds Hudson Bay Lowlands have undergone enormous environmental changes in the past two decades
The Hudson Bay Lowlands have undergone major climate changes in the past two decades. Credit: K. Rühland.

(Phys.org) —Research co-led by researcher Dr. Kathleen Rühland and Queen's professor John Smol on climate change in the Hudson Bay Lowlands has been published in the prestigious international journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Dr. Smol was also recently named a Change Maker by Canadian Geographic.

Due to the persistence of , the lakes in the Hudson Bay Lowlands have remained one of the Earth's last Arctic holdouts from the effects of – until recently.

In just two decades, temperatures in the area have increased at an exceptional pace, resulting in pronounced responses in the plant and animal life of the region.

"When it comes to the bigger picture, this temperature increase in the Hudson Bay Lowlands is an example of just how fast change can happen," says John Smol, professor in the department of biology at Queen's. "Our infrastructure isn't ready. It's another piece of evidence that we're in big trouble and we haven't done anything about it."

The rapid changes that took place in this region are reflected in the biota of lakes, an early warning signal of the repercussions that the steep rise in temperature will have on plants and animals of the area. For example, the large store of carbon in the region's vast peatlands will be impacted, as will the polar bear population that depend on the Hudson Bay sea ice and permafrost. First Nations people will also find it harder to follow their traditional fishing and hunting routes.

"In fifteen years the climate has flipped," says Kathleen Rühland, Queen's Biology research scientist and lead author of the paper. "For example, the response to warming can be detected at both ends of the food chain, at the bottom among primary producers, as well as at the top, as polar bears are replaced by killer whales (a relative newcomer to Hudson Bay) as the apex predator."

"What happens in the Arctic will eventually happen in non-Arctic regions" says Dr. Smol. "Continued warming at the rate and magnitude currently underway will undoubtedly lead to more pronounced ecosystem responses, the effects of which can cascade throughout the entire ecosystem."

Explore further: Nationwide study measures short-term spike in July 4 particulate matter

Related Stories

Polar bear births could plummet with climate change

Feb 08, 2011

University of Alberta researchers Peter Molnar, Andrew Derocher and Mark Lewis studied the reproductive ecology of polar bears in Hudson Bay and have linked declining litter sizes with loss of sea ice.

For polar bears, it's survival of the fattest

Mar 19, 2013

One of the most southerly populations of polar bears in the world – and the best studied – is struggling to cope with climate-induced changes to sea ice, new research reveals. Based on over 10 years' ...

Recommended for you

New study re-writes the rules of carbon analysis

58 minutes ago

A new study published today in Nature Climate Change has found analyses of carbon emissions may be misleading as they failed to include the impacts of policies such as trading schemes, emission caps or quo ...

Scientists recruit public to help study "The Blob"

2 hours ago

A huge mass of unusually warm water that scientists have dubbed "The Blob" has lurked off the West Coast for much of the past two years and speculation is growing that it may be connected in some way with the drought plaguing ...

Yosemite forest fire example of possible things to come

4 hours ago

Forest composition, ground cover and topography are the best predictors of forest fire severity in the Western U.S., according to Penn State physical geographers who also see that the long history of fire ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Neinsense99
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 11, 2013
I thought I'd give mememine69/mememine a hand by posting a link to the comment that they have posted again and again on any recent climate-related story. The comment is pretty much the same silly word games on multiple threads and multiple sites. Here is the link: https://www.googl...2Bcrisis
Water_Prophet
1 / 5 (8) Oct 12, 2013
How the climate is changing is revealed in the Water and is avatar ice.
The past, present and future are revealed to those who will but look.
Blessed is the Water:
Does not water have four powerful ways of conveying its power like unto the other Elements?
As Earth does it not absorb eighteen score kilojoules blissfully warming the Earth, saving it from a frozen fate and increasing its albedo?
As Air does it not both absorb light more powerfully than Carbon Dioxide, and have visible presence, that covers the Earth and acts like unto a glorious blanket?
As Fire does it not abandon the Earth and its liquid state conveying two score kilojoules, blissfully cooling us all?
Does it not control its warmth by density at 4C, preventing and shielding the Earth from an ever growing and sinking frozen death?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.