A $17-million research study on climate change has been scrapped because of the very reason it was launched.
The University of Manitoba, which was leading the project, announced Monday that the Hudson Bay System Study was cancelled.
“The Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen has cancelled the first leg of the 2017 Expedition due to complications associated with the southward motion of hazardous Arctic sea ice, caused by climate change,” a release from the U of M said. “The need to deal with extreme ice conditions in the south meant the ship would arrive too late on site to meet research objectives.”
Five universities and 40 scientists were involved.
The research team tried to speed up the expedition by six days however that wasn’t enough.
Dr. David Barber, who was heading the research project, said warming temperatures have made the ice in the high Arctic thinner. When buffeted by storms and high winds, the ice can move much more freely and travels south on ocean currents.
“I have been in the Arctic for 35 years and this is one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had,” he said Monday.
“Normally these conditions aren’t so bad. This is climate change fully in action – affecting our ability to make use of marine resources and transport things.”
With multiple Coast Guard vessels under repair, Barber said the vessel he was on kept getting rerouted to search and rescue (SAR) missions. That made his team unable to complete their projects.
Barber didn’t begrudge the Coast Guard their work, because “saving lives and property is more important than a science project,” but that the situation shows just how unprepared Canadians are for the effects of climate change.
But he also called on the government to step up, saying updating the Coast Guard’s fleet is something it can do prepare better for the future.
“This is a wake-up call for all of us in the country.”
*With files from the Canadian Press