Community-based research on winter water modifications in the coastal domain of Hudson Bay: Implications for freshwater-marine coupling, biological productivity and the carbon cycle
The coastal domain extends throughout Canada’s Arctic marine waters and includes ecological hotspots that are critically important as marine mammal and seabird habitat. It is also the domain along which Cree and Inuit live, hunt and travel. In the Greater Hudson Bay Marine Region, community members report significant changes in coastal ice and ocean conditions during their lifetimes, and express concern about changes in the coastal ecosystem. These changes are not easy to explain from the limited scientific knowledge base, which does not adequately capture the spatial and seasonal variability in these systems.
Our past research has shown that there are two coastal oceanographic domains in Hudson Bay, defined by ice-ocean processes. In this project, we will focus on the implications of these oceanographic differences for ecosystem productivity and carbon cycling. Working in the contrasting coastal domains of northwest and southeast Hudson Bay, we will compare how environmental conditions (water mass properties, atmospheric forcing, river runoff and the sea-ice growth-melt cycle) determine the nutrient supply, carbon cycling, and biological productivity of coastal waters. The results will provide insight into how productive coastal ecosystems function and may respond to climate change.
We will work in partnership with community members to collect and interpret new ice, ocean, biological and chemical data. The work will be centred at two community research hubs, Coral Harbour and Sanikiluaq (NU), drawing on and expanding our existing network of successful community-driven research partnerships, which already involves Chesterfield Inlet, Naujaat, Sanikiluaq, Nunavik communities, and Chisasibi in southeast Hudson Bay/James Bay. The new data will be accessible in near real-time by community partners through the SIKU.org mobile app and online platform maintained by the Arctic Eider Society. The findings will help address key gaps emerging from the ArcticNet Hudson Bay IRIS and will be communicated to policy-makers at all levels through the next IRIS and other initiatives, as well as published in the scientific literature in a timely manner.