(CBC News) - A team of scientists had to abandon an expedition through Hudson Bay because of hazardous ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland caused by climate change.
About 40 scientists from five Canadian universities were scheduled to use the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen for the first leg of a 133-day expedition across the Arctic. It's part of a $17-million, four-year project led by the University of Manitoba that looks at both the effects of climate change as well as public health in remote communities.
Their trip began May 25 in Quebec City, but due to bad ice conditions off the coast of Newfoundland, the icebreaker was diverted from its course to help ferries and fishing boats navigate the Strait of Belle Isle, said David Barber, a climate change scientist at the University of Manitoba and leader of the Hudson Bay expedition called BaySys.
Thick, dense ice had travelled to the area down from the High Arctic, said Barber, which caused unsuspecting boats to become stuck and even take on water.
"The requirements for search and rescue trumped the requirements for science," said Barber. "The search and rescue calls were coming in quite fast and furious."
According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the conditions were unlike anything ever seen before in the area.
"It was just extreme ice conditions that required everything that we've got in order to make sure we were able to provide the services," said Julie Gascon, the coast guard's assistant commissioner for the central and Arctic region.
Strong northeastern winds started packing in ice in late April and never stopped, said Gascon. The result was sea ice conditions treacherous for even an icebreaker to navigate.
"We never had any issues in the past of this nature," she said. "Very severe ice conditions."Read More . . . .