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Trends in River-Ice Break-up Data for the Western James Bay Region of Canada

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Trends in river-ice break-up date for the Moose, Albany, and Attawapiskat rivers located in the western James Bay region were examined. Regression analyses revealed several significant, but weak, linear relationships between river ice break-up date and calendar year. The directions of these relationships were also inconsistent, and so the results of the statistical analyses were considered to be inconclusive. Local and indigenous knowledge broadened our analyses with more information on changes in the timing of freeze/thaw cycles. Relatively rapid changes in climate can create problems for conventional approaches including statistical analyses, which require large data sets and long-term trends. The study indicates that while trends in river ice break-up were weak, very recent changes in break-up characteristics (signaled through local knowledge) showed that potentially drastic and rapid changes have occurred within the past few years. Future research in climate and river-ice studies ought to incorporate other knowledge systems to understand important indicators of climate changes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005


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