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The Ocean-Sea Ice-Atmosphere System of the Hudson Bay Complex

  • D. B. StewartEmail author
  • D. G. Barber
Chapter

Abstract

Arctic marine water, vast inputs of fresh water, nearly complete seasonal ice cover, and dynamic coastal morphology make the Hudson Bay (HB) complex remarkable among the world’s large marine areas (LMEs). Each of these features is influenced by the climate. Together they enable Foxe Basin, Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay, Hudson Bay and James Bay which comprise the HB complex, to support a well developed Arctic marine food web far south of its normal range. The life history characteristics that enable biota to thrive in the region also make them sensitive and vulnerable to changes in the seasonal ice cover, freshwater inputs, and/or water levels that can stem from changes in climate.

This introductory chapter summarizes current understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological conditions in the HB complex. It also provides examples of how some of the key climate-sensitive oceanographic parameters influence species ecology. The level of research effort in this region has been low relative to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada. This limits understanding and modeling of many key processes, particularly with respect to seasonal and inter-annual change. It also limits the differentiation of natural cyclical changes from those that are anthropogenically-driven and systematic. Over the coming decades, long-term, stable research will be required to better predict and mitigate the impacts of climate change, a growing human population, hydroelectric and non-renewable resource developments, shipping, and the long range transport of contaminants on this fascinating and potentially vulnerable ecosystem.

Keywords

Arctic Canada Oceanography Flora and fauna Coastal zone Environmental sensitivity 

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arctic Biological ConsultantsWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Earth Observation Science, Department of Environment and GeographyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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