With changes in ice conditions throughout the Arctic, and increased global interest in shipping through northern sea routes, new research is needed to develop new models to provide improved information about ice break-up and drift for northern communities and to support safe, low-impact shipping. Improved models for predicting the break-up and drift of sea ice on local scales are valuable for helping ensure safety during traditional activities (e.g. travel over ice, hunting, and fishing), as well as supporting shipping in ice-prone waters. An area of particular importance is improve understanding of the deterioration process of sea ice cover that ultimately leads to break-up, as this is a period of higher risk for both on-ice activities and early season shipping activities. This work is important in establishing links between deteriorating ice conditions and risk-assessment models developed for other areas such as Eastern Canada, as well as Arctic regions in Russia and Europe. To foster international research collaboration in this area, the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and Polar Knowledge Canada (CHARS) are working together with collaborators at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (PGSPPU) to support a research exchange visit by PhD student Artem Nesterov (PGSPPU) to conduct field work with Dr. Rocky Taylor and to help expand and develop new models of ice break-up and drift processes. The goals of the project are:
(1) To study the timing and patterns of sea ice break-up and drift surrounding Cambridge Bay in the Dease Strait south of Victoria island through the deployment of instrumentation and use of an empirical/statistical approach previously successfully employed for the Labrador coast;
(2) To use these data to calibrate and validate an existing thermodynamic ice freeze-up/break-up model to support the development of improved tools for modelling ice conditions near Cambridge Bay and the southern route of the Northwest Passage;
(3) To apply models for conditions in the Canadian Arctic and compare with accuracy when applied to the East Coast of Canada to support safe, low-impact shipping through Arctic and sub-Arctic shipping lanes.
The field work portion of the proposed project will be based at CHARS in Cambridge Bay and would involve use of two snowmobiles to deploy instrumentation (e.g. six thermistor strings and five standard ice drift beacons) on the ice in Dease Strait south of Cambridge Bay. Instrumentation will be deployed by drilling holes in the ice and installing the instruments in the ice. Data collected will include collection of data on ice thickness, temperature and salinity profiles, snow cover and other variables needed for thermodynamic model development. Data from the beacons will be transmitted over iridium satellite, while the thermistor string data will be downloaded from instrumentation upon recovery. Following the field work activities, Artem will visit MUN and stay to analyze these data to calibrate and validate a thermodynamic ice freeze-up/break-up model. This model will then be applied for conditions in the Canadian Arctic, as well as for East Coast Canada to extend models for broader range of sea ice environments to support safe, low-impact shipping throughout Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Efforts to link these new deterioration and break-up models with other community-based sources of ice data (collected prior to break-up) such as data from SmartIce sensors are envisaged as part of future expansions of the proposed modelling activities.
It is anticipated that three people will be involved directly in the field work, with some additional technical support from CHARS staff. The field work will be conducted by Dr. Taylor and Artem Nesterov, who will also be accompanies by a local bear monitor who will be hired to accompany the team in the field. People from St. John’s, NL, St. Petersburg, Russia and Cambridge Bay will travel to the field site by snowmobile, which will be provided by CHARS. During our stay we plan to also avail of accommodations at CHARS. The team is also very eager to engage with members of the community and local elders to discuss changing ice conditions, which will be facilitated through Polar Knowledge Canada.