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Sea Ice of the Arctic

The observed decline in the summer sea ice, in terms of both magnitude and trend, is alarming. We are changing the arctic from one that has been dominated by multiyear sea ice to one that will now be dominated by first-year sea ice related processes. We can expect a seasonally ice free arctic early in this century. It is important to note that our planet has not had a seasonally ice-free Arctic for at least the past 1.1 million years.

Both flora and fauna have evolved over millions of years to take advantage of the presence and timing of the seasonal sea ice life cycle. Now, northern peoples increasingly are finding their traditional way of life under pressure from these changes as they struggle to adapt.

The next few decades will proceed with significant challenges for the Arctic. Marine ecosystems will come under increasing pressure; industrial activity will increase as more exploration and development occurs; and the Inuit people will increasingly find it a challenge to use sea ice for cultural and subsistence purposes.

This project brings together key sea ice researchers to examine the processes that cause the observed changes in sea ice dynamic and thermodynamic processes, snow cover, and physical coupling across the ocean-sea ice-atmosphere (OSA) interface. We will provide sea ice expertise to the coordinated ArcticNet IRISs of the coastal Canadian Arctic, supplying the required information for sound management of these challenges.

Study site locations

Cambridge Bay, Resolute, Grise Fjord, Pond Inlet, Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit, Sanikiluaq

Local collaborations

Our project collaborates with various Northern groups including the Inuvialuit Joint Secretariat, Inuvialuit Game Council, Wildlife Management Advisory Committee, Environmental Impact Screening Committee, Hunters and Trappers Committees in Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktuk, Paulatuk, Sanikiluaq, Churchill Northern Studies Centre, NTK (Nunavut Hudson Bay Inter-Agency Working Group), and the Port of Churchill.

Project Contact information:

David Barber
Professor - University of Manitoba
Director - Centre for Earth Observa-tion Science
Wallace Building
125 Dysart Rd
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3T 2N2