Variability and change of freshwater-marine coupling in the Hudson Bay System
The past century has seen significant hydroelectric development on rivers flowing into Hudson Bay, with more than 21,000 MW of annual production on the Nelson and La Grande river systems. Manitoba Hydro’s operations are closely linked to conditions in Hudson Bay through the regulation of outflows from Lake Winnipeg Regulation and the Lower Nelson River generating stations, as well as through the diversion of water from the Churchill River Diversion, which affect the timing, volume, and location of freshwater outflow into Hudson Bay.
Freshwater entering Hudson Bay is susceptible to modification, both in terms of water quality and quantity, through exchange processes in the watershed, and through climate forcing of the hydrological cycle both in space and time. A unique aspect of this system is the role that freshwater plays on both sea ice thermodynamic and dynamic processes within Hudson Bay. This freshwater-marine coupling affects all aspects of the Hudson Bay physical, biological and biogeochemical systems.
BaySys is a 4-year $15M comprehensive study that aims to contribute to a scientific basis to understand the relative contributions of climate change and regulation on the Hudson Bay system. The role of freshwater in Hudson Bay will be investigated through field-based experimentation coupled with climatic-hydrological-oceanographic -biogeochemical modeling.
BAYSYS is led by the University of Manitoba, Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) and Manitoba Hydro. The science teams are drawn from these agencies and six Canadian academic institutions (Universities of Northern British Columbia, Québec à Rimouski, Alberta and Calgary, and Laval and Trent), in close cooperation with Manitoba Hydro, Hydro-Quebec and Ouranos.
Five research teams, led by an academic and industry co-lead(s), are organized to investigate the following inter-connected subsystems:
Team 1: Marine/Climate Systems
Team 2: Freshwater
Team 3: Marine Ecosystem
Team 4: Carbon Cycling
Team 5: Contaminants
BaySys will have three key field expeditions: (1) Fall 2016 to install moorings in western Hudson Bay and the entrance to James Bay, (2) winter 2017 field studies in the estuaries of the Churchill and Nelson Rivers, and (3) a bay-wide survey in summer 2017 aboard the NGCC Amundsen.
For the scientific and local Hudson Bay communities, this multidisciplinary project will vastly expand knowledge of climate impacts on the Arctic system, in a region where there are substantial gaps and limitations in existing knowledge.