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Gulf of Saint Lawrence on pace for record lack of ice


The Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Northumberland Strait is coming up on a record year for a lack of sea ice.

Back in 2021, about two per cent of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence was covered in sea ice, that was a record low, but this year there’s even less.

"Half of that. We probably moved up to about two per cent with the little bit of new ice that formed before you got this little rainstorm,” said George Karaganis Canadian Ice Service Meteorologist.

"I expect, it’s new ice, it’s very thin, if the rain didn’t destroy it the winds behind this, for the next couple of days, will destroy it."

The little bit of sea ice you can see here on the Northumberland Strait is nothing compared to years past.

More than 30-years-ago, there’d often be winters where the entire island was surrounded by sea ice.

However, the ice conditions in the Gulf and Strait have fallen dramatically since 1995.

"A normal ice year would be substantially more ice than now, and every now and then you have a lower year and every now and then you have a higher year," said Karaganis. "After about ‘95, ‘96 those types of years are very rare."

Sea temperatures are higher than average this year, which slows the formation of ice.

It’s a bit of a self reinforcing cycle, where less ice leads to higher temperatures which leads to less ice.

Ice that forms now probably won’t have time to become that solid grey-white, six inch to a foot thick, ice Prince Edward Island sees some years.

“For sure not as thick,” said Karaganis. “Forming later, and then it looks like spring comes sooner, so we’re not going to have heavy ice this year.”

So it appears less sea ice in the Gulf and Strait is the new normal, and experts say the lack of a layer of ice protecting the coastline could contribute to accelerated erosion on the island. Top Stories

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