Submitted by: Lisa Matthes
Supervisors: C.J. Mundy & Jens Ehn
Four weeks left until we are sailing up north again on the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen. But before we can even think of the beautiful scenery along the St. Lawrence River, the huge icebergs around Newfoundland and the melting ice pack in Hudson Bay, loads of equipment have to be put onto pallets to be shipped to the Coast Guard port in Quebec City. Several teams will be on ship to look at the effects of freshwater input controlled by river regulation of hydroelectrical plants and climate change on the physical, biological and chemical processes of Hudson Bay. To do so, we will need drones to monitor the melting of the ice pack, drilling equipment to collect ice cores, light sensors, a never-ending supply of water bottles to study algae growth, as well as lots of lab supplies to set up clean labs to measure parameters such as nutrients or mercury concentration.
We have found that processes in the river estuaries of Hudson Bay are especially lacking information. How large is the river discharge in spring? Are there differences between regulated and unregulated rivers? Where does all the freshwater and transported sediments go? Finding answers to those questions is important for Manitoba Hydro as well as many graduate students and their projects. However, planning the river sampling has become a huge challenge for several reasons. The coast of Hudson Bay is sparsely populated, charts of the estuaries are rather imprecise and often is only accessible by helicopter. It will require a lot of days with good weather conditions, creative sampling adjustments and a well working science crew. At the same time, these uncertainties make field work in the Arctic so interesting and exciting. And if everything goes well, we will arrive in Churchill after six weeks at the same time the belugas will populate the southern coasts.