A $17 million expedition aimed at studying the effects of climate change in Canada’s Hudson Bay has been postponed due to complications brought about by climate change itself. An unusually heavy southward flow of surface ice from the Arctic has blocked the safe passage of the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, on the first leg of her mission to ferry 40 scientists participating in the Hudson Bay System Study (BaySys).

The heavy ice flow itself is due to the unusually warm weather experienced in the Arctic over the past winter, conditions that resulted in a thinner ice sheet that flowed south more readily following the spring breakup, causing southward channels to see heavier than usual ice congestion.

"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," explains Expedition Chief Scientist and BaySys Scientific Lead Dr. David Barber.

"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," continues Barber. "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." Barber expects the second leg of the 2017 Amundsen Expedition, due to depart on July 6, to proceed on schedule.