Expedition in Canada’s High Arctic
About the mission
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), in collaboration with international experts, academia, and other government departments, is leading a research mission to study the multiyear ice ecosystem in Canada’s High Arctic from April 25-June 6, 2018. This mission will provide the first ecological assessment of the northern Canadian Archipelago, the only region where multiyear ice still resides in the Arctic Ocean. This knowledge is essential to understand the structure, function and role of the sea-ice associated ecosystem in the Arctic Ocean.
Researchers from DFO and the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany) will conduct field studies on the sea ice from a temporary ice camp located offshore from the Canadian Armed Forces station base, Alert. The team will collect climatic and oceanographic data, as well as ice ecosystem measurements to help inform Arctic and Climate Change Science. The team will also evaluate the presence and distribution of marine mammals and their habitat usage offshore of Ellesmere Island.
About the region
The Canadian portion of the High Arctic – also referred to as the “Last Ice Area” – is the area between western Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This area is projected to retain its multiyear ice in the future, while most sea ice in the surrounding area will be lost due to climate change. This mission will study the unique, sea-ice associated ecosystems located north of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut.
These areas are expected to provide important habitat for culturally significant and ice-dependent species, such as polar bears, beluga, narwhal, walrus and seals as well as the communities that depend on them.
The selected areas have ecological importance and cultural significance for Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Historically, Inuit oral history describes the area of northern Ellesmere Island as a part of the route between Canada and Greenland, travelled by the first Inuit who settled there.
DFO Team members and Field Participants
- Christine Michel, Senior Research Scientist (Program Lead)
- Pierre Coupel, Research Scientist (Principal Investigator)
- Steve Ferguson, Senior Research Scientist (Principal Investigator)
- Andrea Niemi, Research Scientist (Principal Investigator)
- Clark Richards, Research Scientist (Principal Investigator)
- Benjamin Lange, Postdoctoral Fellow, Field Program Coordinator
- Pascal Tremblay, Research technician
- Steve Duerksen, Biologist
- Joannie Charette, Biologist
- Cody Carlyle, Biologist
- Melissa Galicia, Student
- Brent Young, Postdoctoral Fellow
- Anke Reppchen, Biologist
- Shannon Nudds, Physical Oceanographer
- Emmanuel Devred, Research Scientist
- Constance Duffaud, M.Sc. student
Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany)
- Christian Haas
- Hauke Flores
- Christian Katlein
- Philipp Anhaus
- Arttu Jurtila
- Jana Hildebrant
- Ron ten Boer
Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (France)
- Lars-Eric Heimbürger
University of Essex (United Kingdom)
- Graham Underwood
University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
- Alexandre Anesio
- Karley Campbell
- Jean-Éric Tremblay
Université du Québec à Rimouski
- Michel Gosselin
Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Andrew Platt
- Alexandra Steffen
Polar Continental Shelf Program, Natural Resources Canada
- Michael Jordan
Resolute Hunters and Trappers Association
Research tools and techniques
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are tethered, unmanned underwater vehicles used to collect footage and samples from beneath the surface. Manually controlled by researchers from computers on land or onboard ships or, such as in this case from the ice, they are outfitted with high definition cameras, sensors and other features such as motorized arms that can grab samples. This AWI ROV will be equipped with a net which will sample under-ice fauna while the ROV itself will collect sensor data from the under-ice ecosystem.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are small, remotely operated aerial vehicles, most often equipped with cameras. During this mission, these UAVs will be flown in systematic, overlapping grids to collect data through visual, thermal infrared and multi-spectral cameras. This data will be used to create three-dimensional topography maps of the snow and sea ice surface. The infrared camera will also be used to identify the presence of marine mammals (ringed seals and polar bears) in the area.
Twin Otter planes are small propeller planes often used to visually survey marine mammals. A Twin Otter equipped with a camera will be used to conduct an aerial survey of the ice edge area, where marine mammals are expected to assemble.
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