All aboard for scientific research

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The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Amundsen is on a six-week tour of Hudson Bay to study the effects of climate change in the Arctic. On June 7, the research vessel stopped off the coast of Chesterfield Inlet and welcomed community members aboard for a tour and lunch with the captain, scientists and other crew.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen was in Chesterfield Inlet on June 7 and hosted community members aboard for a tour. photo courtesy of David Barber

A number of students from Victor Sammurtok School attended as did Chesterfield Inlet Mayor Harry Aggark.

“The visit was a lot of fun on our end and I think the community got a lot from the visit as well,” said David Barber, the expedition’s chief scientist.

The Amundsen is conducting a Hudson Bay-wide survey from May 24 to July 5. The purpose is to understand the impacts of climate change on the bay.

“We study everything in the physical world from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere and everything in the biological world from viruses and bacteria to the the top of the food chain (wales, seals and bears),” stated Barber. “Things in the Arctic are changing very rapidly and these change are due to our changing climate (global warming).”

Their project is being co-funded by Manitoba Hydro, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and ArcticNet.

Its results will be shared with the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) at the University of Manitoba, which is a large research group of over 140 people who work all over the Arctic and focus on the effects of climate change.

There are 40 scientists aboard the ship right now.

The Amundsen’s focus on this expedition is sea ice, how it is changing and what effects these changes are having on marine life and the people of the North who rely on those resources.

Barber and his research team has been working with the community of Chesterfield Inlet for several years now and they select one town for a visit each time they visit the bay – this year Chesterfield was selected.

Barber and his team shared some of their results with the Chesterfield residents who came aboard for the visit.

They were taken on a two-hour tour of the research vessel and heard presentations from both the Coast Guard crew and by the scientific staff. There was also some discussion about how Northern youth might pursue a career in science or the Coast Guard.