Big chill in Churchill - Winnipeg Free Press
Winter grips 90 per cent of north, migratory birds can't breed
It is the winter that refuses to go away in northern Manitoba and most of the eastern Arctic.
Prolonged cold snowy conditions in the Hudson Bay area are expected to obliterate the breeding season for migratory birds and most other species of wildlife this year.
According to Environment Canada, the spring of 2009 is record-late in the eastern Arctic with virtually 100 per cent snow cover from James Bay north as of June 11.
May temperatures in northern Manitoba were almost four degrees C below the long-term average of -0.7, and in early June, temperatures averaged three degrees below normal.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration images confirm snow and ice blanket all of northern Manitoba, part of northern Ontario and almost all of the eastern Arctic as of June 12. U.S. arieal flight surveys confirm the eastern Arctic has no sign of spring so far.
"I have lived in Churchill since the 1950s, and this the latest spring I have ever seen here," said local resident Pat Penwarden. "The spring of 1962 was almost this bad."
Six-foot snowdrifts blocked Churchill-area roads. A thick blanket of snow, in places three- and four-feet deep, coated 90 per cent of the local taiga in northern Manitoba. Ecotourists, who normally flock to northern Manitoba every June to see birds and other wildlife, cancelled their plans this June "in droves," according to local ecotourist specialists. Snowy conditions are largely to blame.
"It is like a winter landscape," said Ruth Baker, a Michigan tourist who spent June 9 to 12 at Churchill. "I couldn't believe the snowdrifts, like mountains of snow".
Researchers confirm that the lateness of the spring of 2009 dooms local birds to a virtually complete reproductive failure.
Recent late springs in the Hudson Bay area have been more frequent than normal: 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1997.
According to NOAA scientists, although the Arctic is warming, more frequent annual oscillations in temperature are likely to occur, often resulting in late springs.
"Such major oscillations are part of a bumpy ride toward global warming," said Thomas Karl of the National Climate Center. "For awhile at least this will be the shape of things to come." [Via Global Freeze]