Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic May 13, 2015 - 7:30 am

Big research project to look at effects of freshwater in Hudson Bay

Four-year project to use the Coast Guard's research vessel Amundsen

Researchers on board the Amundsen plan to study the impact of freshwater in Hudson Bay for the next four years. (FILE PHOTO)
Researchers on board the Amundsen plan to study the impact of freshwater in Hudson Bay for the next four years. (FILE PHOTO)

A four-year, $9.14 million research project plans to look at the impact of fresh water in Hudson Bay — “to increase understanding of the impacts of the warming climate on water supply and northern ecosystems,” says a University of Manitoba news release on the project.

For years, the Hamlet of Sanikiluaq in Nunavut has called for more study on the flow of fresh water into Hudson Bay, which people say has altered the environment and produced changing ice conditions and water currents, dying eider ducks, unhealthy sea cucumbers, hungry polar bears and sickly seals.

Some have also suggested a connection between the freshwater plumes sent into Hudson Bay from the Quebec power corporation’s huge dams and the quick freezing of water in the Hudson Bay which led to entrapments of eiders, beluga and killer whales in 2013.

The new project’s team, led by David Barber from the University of Manitoba, includes researchers from Manitoba Hydro and the Universities of Manitoba, Laval, Québec à Rimouski, Calgary, Northern British Columbia, and Trent, who plan to study the role that freshwater plays in the Hudson Bay marine and coastal systems.

Their research project called “BaySys — Contributions of climate change and hydro-electric regulation to the variability and change of freshwater-marine coupling in the Hudson Bay system” will try to provide “a scientific basis” to separate the effects of climate change from those of fresh water that flows into Hudson Bay from hydro-electric projects.

The research work will be conducted aboard the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen.

The news release on the project said Nunavut and Canada will “benefit from a better understanding of how seasonal shifts in freshwater, sediment and nutrient delivery and climate change may affect primary and fisheries productivity, and transportation in Hudson Bay and how this may change under a future climate.”

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