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Ice-Free Foxe Basin in Late Summer, Canada – September 30th, 2009

67.7N 76.2W

September 30th, 2009 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day

Canada - August 26th, 2009Hudson Bay

Canada - August 26th, 2009

The waters of Foxe Basin, a shallow oceanic basin north of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut, Canada, located between Baffin Island (above) and the Melville Peninsula (left), appear greenish due to sediments and phytoplankton growth.

Foxe Basin is a broad, predominantly shallow depression, generally less than 100 metres (330 ft) in depth, while to the south, depths of up to 400 metres (1,300 ft) occur.

For most of the year, Foxe Basin is blocked by ice floes. In fact,  open pack ice is common throughout the summer and the basin is rarely ice-free until September.

In this image, taken in late August, very little ice is present, allowing the greenish waters to be observed. The nutrient-rich cold waters found in the basin are known to be especially favorable to phytoplankton and to have a high sediment content, explaining their color.

The numerous islands in the basin, including the rounded Prince Charles Island near the center, are important bird habitats. Bowhead whales migrate to the northern part of the basin each summer.

Also of note here is the bright white Barnes Ice Cap on central Baffin Island, north of Prince Charles Island. It covers close to 6000 km2 and has been thinning due to global warming. Between 1970 and 1984, the ice cap thinned 1.7 m. The ice cap is Canada’s oldest ice, being approximately 20,000 years old. It is a remnant of the Laurentide ice sheet, which covered much of Canada during the last ice age.

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