International Polar Year (IPY) (2007-2008)

The Department released two reports on its contributions to International Polar Year science (IPY).

The first report “Key Findings from International Polar Year 2007-2008 at Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Executive Summary” was released in June 2010 for the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference.

A second report, entitled, “Key Findings from International Polar Year 2007-2008 at Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Bringing Science to Policy and Programs” was created for use at the 2012 International Polar Year Conference, hosted by Canada in Montreal. It outlines how the Government’s investment in IPY science at DFO is helping to inform current and future policy and programs.

DFO Science is a major participant in the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2009, which began March 2007. At that time, the Government of Canada announced $150 million in IPY funding over six years, of which $100 million is for 44 science research projects. The 24 months of IPY provide a unique opportunity to gain greater scientific knowledge of our North and strengthen Canada's position as a global leader in Arctic research. DFO scientists have a prominent role among national and international partners to build an increased understanding of the oceans' role in global climate as well as the impacts of climate variability and change to Arctic marine ecosystems. IPY is the largest-ever international program of scientific research focused on polar regions, with thousands of scientists and researchers from more than 60 nations participating. Additional information about the Government of Canada's program for IPY can be found online at: International Polar Year.

Scientists from DFO led the following six IPY projects funded by the Government of Canada.

Project Title: Beluga Tagging in the Arctic

Project Leader: Mike Hammill, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: The project will provide information on beluga movements, critical habitat and distribution. This information will be used in ocean forecast models to learn more about water currents and masses. Interactions with hunters will improve understandings of beluga habits and combine traditional and western scientific knowledge.

Location(s): Hudson Bay waters surrounding Nunavik.

Project Title: C3O - Canada's Three Oceans

Project Leader: Eddy Carmack, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: C3O will use two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers, whose current mission tracks encircle Canada, to obtain a snapshot of large-scale ocean and ecosystem properties, and thus establish a scientific basis for sustained monitoring of Canada's Sub-Arctic and Arctic seas in the wake of global warming.

Location(s): C3O will measure ocean and ecosystem properties from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia, including the Gulf of Alaska, Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, the deep Canada Basin, the Northwest Passage from Amundsen Gulf to Lancaster Sound, Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea.

Project Title: Climate Variability and Change Effects on Chars in the Arctic

Project Leader: James Reist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: This project is focused on understanding the effects of climate change on char (species of freshwater fish) biodiversity, how this responds to climate change, and the consequences of this to human beings. The work also examines linkages between climate change and mercury bioaccumulation.

Location(s): Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories.

Project Title: Effects of Global Warming on Polar Bears, Seals and Whales

Project Leader: Steven Ferguson, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: This research project will find out how marine mammals will adapt to global warming and whether they will be able to survive into the future. The project team will study the relationship between warming temperatures and changes in where polar bears, seals, and whales will survive and reproduce, and how many will remain. The team will use satellite telemetry to tell us how they move, tissue samples from hunters to tell us what they eat, and new technologies like genetics and modeling to tell us what the future will be like. Knowing how polar bears, seals, and whales adapt to shrinking sea ice may help save them and the Inuit culture that relies on them for food.

Location(s): Hudson Bay.

Project Title: Impacts of Severe Arctic Storms and Climate Change on Coastal Areas

Project Leader: William Perrie, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: The focus of this project is to understand coastal oceanographic processes in the Southern Beaufort Sea, and the related waters of the Western Canadian Arctic, driven by intense storms and severe weather. This area is important because the use of the coastal marine and terrestrial environment by Canadian Northerners is an integral part of their life style, and these environments are being impacted by coastal erosion processes, related to marine storms that tend to be growing stronger.

Location(s): Beaufort Sea and coastal areas of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Project Title:Ocean Currents of Arctic Canada

Project Leader: Humfrey Melling, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Description: This project will measure how much fresh water, salt water and sea ice pass from the Arctic Ocean to the Labrador Sea through the Canadian Archipelago each year. It will also determine what drives this flow, and how it will change with changing climate. Fresh water mixed into ocean surface water is critical to:

  1. protecting Arctic ice from warm ocean water;
  2. the productivity of Arctic marine ecosystems; and
  3. the occurrence of ocean overturning in the Labrador Sea that removes climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Because a warmer climate may deliver much more fresh water to the Arctic, this research will clarify climate change impacts on local marine ecosystems and human activities, and also the impact of climate change on global deep ocean circulation.

Location(s): Qikiqtaaluk Region in Nunavut.

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