Large Canadian Arctic climate change study cancelled due to climate change

June 14, 2017
The research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen. Credit: University of Manitoba

The Science Team of the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen has cancelled the first leg of the 2017 Expedition due to complications associated with the southward motion of hazardous Arctic sea ice, caused by climate change.

This regrettably postpones the much-anticipated Hudson Bay System Study (BaySys) involving 40 scientists from five universities across Canada. Timing was key for this $17 million, four-year, University of Manitoba-led project.

The need to deal with extreme ice conditions in the south meant the ship would arrive too late on site to meet research objectives.

The Arctic deployment of the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen is undertaken through a long-standing collaboration between the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and University-led Arctic science in Canada.

This productive partnership has been providing Canadian researchers and their international colleagues with the ability to monitor and understand the impacts of and resource development on Arctic marine and coastal ecosystems and northern communities since 2003.

This year the Expedition Logistics and Science Teams accelerated the mobilization of the 2017 Arctic Expedition to permit departure of the Amundsen six days ahead of schedule.

This would allow CCG to carry out critical marine safety and security operations in the unusually severe ice conditions in the Strait of Belle Isle and along the northeast coast of Newfoundland before beginning the Science Mission.

Unfortunately, the conditions required much more extended support than anticipated. Fleet management issues and inadequate alternative ships forced the cancellation of the science program due to significant safety concerns.

This decision to cancel the BaySys 2017 program was not made lightly. Although the cancellation was due to circumstances beyond control of the Expedition Team, every effort was made to develop a viable option to allow this valuable work to proceed.

The decision to terminate the 2017 program has significant impacts on partners and the large number of graduate students involved.

"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. A second week of delay meant our research objectives just could not be safely achieved – the challenge for us all was that the marine ice hazards were exceedingly difficult for the maritime industry, the CCG, and science," says Dr. David Barber, Expedition Chief Scientist and BaySys Scientific Lead.

Dr. Barber and his team of experts were able to use the state-of-the-art equipment onboard the Amundsen to confirm that a significant proportion of the sea ice present originated from the high Arctic.

He noted that, "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."

The Sea Ice Research Team collected a comprehensive dataset on the physics of the ice, ocean and atmosphere in the area and these data will contribute to the understanding of these events and assist Canada in preparing for change driven increases in marine ice hazards.

"This extremely unfortunate event is not expected to affect the remainder of the 2017 Amundsen Expedition resuming on July 6. We believe that the oceanographic studies will proceed as planned and do not anticipate an impact on the Nunavik Inuit Health Survey, says Dr. Louis Fortier, Scientific Director of the Amundsen and ArcticNet Science programs. "The Amundsen Science Team is committed to working with Canadian Coast Guard and our industrial partners to plan a 2018 BaySys program."

The research of our scientists clearly indicate that climate change is not something that is going to happen in the future – it is already here. Research results from scientists onboard the Amundsen and innovative Networks like ArcticNet show the impacts of climate change in Canada's Arctic and Arctic Ocean affect not only northern ecosystems and communities, but also the environments and people living in the south of Canada – as so dramatically seen off the coast of Newfoundland.

The provision of the best information possible is essential for proper planning, decision–making and adaptation to the realities of climate change.

This experience, and climate change conditions currently affecting Churchill, Man., clearly illustrates that Canada is ill prepared to deal with the realities of climate change.

Explore further: Iqaluit could start running out of fresh water by 2024

Related Stories

What does the Arctic tell us about climate change?

May 11, 2017

As climate change melts the polar ice cap, the Arctic becomes more accessible, causing increased marine traffic and greater industrial development. University of Calgary researchers are investigating the environmental pressures ...

Socioeconomics play key role in Arctic search and rescue

October 3, 2016

Traveling and harvesting on the land and sea is of vital importance to Indigenous communities in the Canadian Arctic and subarctic, with links to food security, cultural identity, and wellbeing. A new study by the Climate ...

Arctic explorer's ship to return to Norway

March 16, 2012

Canada authorized Friday the repatriation to Norway of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's three-mast ship Maud from the Canadian Arctic, a project representative said Friday.

Recommended for you

Mysterious deep-Earth seismic signature explained

November 22, 2017

New research on oxygen and iron chemistry under the extreme conditions found deep inside the Earth could explain a longstanding seismic mystery called ultralow velocity zones. Published in Nature, the findings could have ...

Scientists dispute missing dryland forests

November 21, 2017

Scientists are disputing the possibility that a significant portion of the world's forests have been missed in an earlier accounting of ecological diversity.

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Turgent
1.4 / 5 (9) Jun 14, 2017
Can't the climate change zealot who wrote gross and awful propaganda dare sign their name. mixing lies and and facts. Read some history on past English expeditions!
snoosebaum
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2017
sounds like BS, anyone look at a map ? so the ice mobiled itself through all those narrow channels to get to Hudsons bay ?
aksdad
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2017
Large Canadian Arctic climate change study cancelled due to climate change

should say

...cancelled due to poor preparation for typically variable Arctic conditions

You're welcome.

If you're not prepared for the severe Arctic environment that can change unexpectedly, you probably shouldn't be studying it. Just ask Ernest Shackleton, who, by the way, didn't blame his failed Antarctic expedition on "climate change."
guptm
1 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2017
Cancelling it in the month of June (aka summer) is shameful. If they can't handle summer ice conditions in the sub-Arctic (much lower latitude), they must return 17 million$ to the government.

Remember the same ship did overwintering during CFL-IPY in 2007-2008 at a much higher latitude in the Beaufort Sea. They are probably afraid of getting killed - like helicopter crash in 2013 on Amundsen.
snoosebaum
not rated yet Jun 15, 2017
see for yourself

https://earth.nullschool.net/

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/ocean/surface/currents/orthographic=-87.70,64.43,2802
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2017
Hold on,...the Arctic still has ice....Please, no one tells False Profit Al.
nrauhauser
5 / 5 (4) Jun 16, 2017
The article is good, albeit worrying. The amount of ignorance in comments on the other hand, is entirely to be expected with anything climate related.

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.