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Fires West of Hudson Bay, Canada – June 25th, 2013

57.7N 95.2W

June 25th, 2013 Category: Fires, Image of the day MODISAqua

Canada – June 25th, 2013

Several wildfires can be seen burning west of the Hudson Bay, in Manitoba and Nunavut, Canada. The fires are releasing thick plumes of white smoke that are being carried northwest by winds. Visible releasing sediments into the Hudson Bay is the Nelson River, which has a mean discharge of 2,370 cubic metres per second (84,000 cu ft/s).

Haze Over Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada

47.0N 62W

June 25th, 2013 Category: Fires MODISAqua

Canada – June 24th, 2013

Haze hangs over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Canada. The haze is possibly caused by smoke from wildfires burning to the northwest. The Gulf of Saint Lawrence is the world’s largest estuary and the outlet of the Great Lakes of North America via the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean. The gulf is a semienclosed sea, covering an area of about 236,000 square kilometres (91,000 sq mi) and containing about 35,000 cubic kilometres (8,400 cu mi) of water, which results in an average depth of 148 meters.

Sediments in Southern Part of Great Slave Lake’s Main Basin, Canada

62.6N 110.5W

June 25th, 2013 Category: Lakes, Sediments MODISTerra

Canada – June 24th, 2013

The Great Slave Lake is an enormous, complex body of water. It is the fourth largest lake in Canada and was formed as a result of glacial scouring. The lake has a large, open western basin and a narrow eastern arm with many islands.

Great Slave Lake is drained by the MacKenzie River and has many inflows, of which the Slave River from Lake Athabasca is the largest. Each day in the summer, the Slave River dumps 54,000 metric tons of dissolved minerals and 36,000 metric tons of silt into the southern part of the main lake basin, as can be seen here, which has a mineral content of 160 ppm.

The eastern arm and northern shore of the main basin have a lower dissolved mineral content (22-82 ppm) as a result of dilution by stream inflow off the Pre-Cambrian Shield. The large bays of the eastern arm are extremely deep (e.g. Christie Bay 614 m) and permafrost covers most of the north shore.

This extremely oligotrophic lake has low standing planktonic crops, a limited benthic invertebrate community (six species), and sparse populations of fish. The short summer in this subarctic climate is reflected by the condensed two-week period of yearly growth in whitefish during August (click here for more information).

Climate Change and the Loss of Sea Ice in the Canadian Arctic

69.0N 120.4W

June 24th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISTerra

Canada – June 22nd, 2013

Climate change affects every part of the world in a different way, but most experts agree the North will be impacted more than any other region. Sea ice spans most of the Arctic’s coastal and inter-island channels from eight to 12 months of the year and supports a number of species. It’s expected to undergo the most significant transformation.

The effects of climate change in the North are not new occurrences. Actually, changes have been happening for quite some time. Over the past 25 years, Inuit and scientists have observed a decrease of roughly seven percent in sea ice area, with the largest rate of decrease during the summer months.

Using highly scientific models of prediction, it has been determined that if warming trends continue at their current rate, by the end of this century the Arctic Ocean will be nearly ice-free during the summer.

If Arctic sea ice melted away, large sections of the Arctic Archipelago would open up. This would create more noise, traffic, pollution and safety issues for both humans and wildlife. Because of increased noise, traffic and pollution, marine ecosystems would be disturbed. Sea ice is a major control on the interactions between marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

The undersurface of sea ice is a growth site for algae and invertebrates that sustain the food web (a food source for many types of fish). If sea ice melted away there would be a decrease in amounts of sub-ice phytoplankton, a key source of food for copepods and fish. The fish that depend on phytoplankton for food are a main source of nutrition for narwhals, beluga whales and seals. Polar bears depend on seals for food. Because of sea-ice depletion and a decrease in marine food, seal populations would drop, having a direct impact on polar bears.

Human beings are ultimately being affected by a decrease of sea ice in many ways. Northern communities have reported changes in the physical environment over the last 20 to 30 years. They have not been able to hunt as much because of a lack of traditional food species such as fish, seals and whales. Hunters depend on these species not only for food but also for money, as they can sell tusks or furs. In addition, a warmer climate could cause difficulty in conserving perishable food through cold-storage or natural freezing. Should sea ice thaw and the Arctic Archipelago open up there would be safety issues because the area would be more prone to landslides, floods and overall lack of coastal stability (click here for more information).

Arctic Ice by Canada and Greenland

80.8N 71.4W

June 24th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISTerra

Canada and Greenland – June 22nd, 2013

This image shows glacial ice and sea ice in the Arctic, between Canada and Greenland. Effects of Arctic climate change include a marked decrease in Arctic sea ice; thawing permafrost, leading to the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas; the release of methane from clathrates, leading to longer time-scale methane release; the observed increase in melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet in recent years; and potential changes in patterns of ocean circulation.

Scientists worry that some of these effects may cause positive feedbacks which could accelerate the rate of global warming. The sea ice in the Arctic region is in itself important in maintaining global climate due to its albedo (reflectivity). Melting of this sea ice will therefore exacerbate global warming due to positive feedback effects, where warming creates more warming by increased solar absorption.

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