Prime Minister Visits Ocean Networks Canada Arctic Observatory

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mrs. Laureen Harper and key government representatives gathered dockside with UVic President Jamie Cassels and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) President Kate Moran to view firsthand the latest instrumentation that showcases Canadian science and technology in the Arctic.

On his ninth annual week-long Northern Tour, the Prime Minister’s itinerary includes the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, where he stopped in Cambridge Bay to learn about northern initiatives in ocean science and technology, including ONC’s community-based cabled ocean observatory.

Installed in 2012, the seafloor observatory is the first location in Canada’s Arctic for year-round, continuous undersea monitoring of the northern environment. Its instruments—including an underwater HD video camera, hydrophone, fish tag receiver, ice profiler and sensors measuring temperature, depth and salinity—provide science-based support for greater understanding and protection of fragile Arctic marine ecosystems. Data streaming from the instruments may also enable local students, teachers and community members to be stewards of their own environment.

“With the Cambridge Bay monitoring station, UVIc and ONC have developed a scientific research facility that contributes to our knowledge of ocean science, stimulates technology development, and is an important resource to communities in the North. With the longest coastline in the world, we cannot underestimate the importance of ocean monitoring to Canadians, or the significance of the work undertaken by ONC,” said Dr. David Castle, Vice-President Research, University of Victoria.

“Ten years ago I co-led the first deep scientific drilling expedition into the central Arctic Ocean and since then have witnessed the rapid changes occurring in the polar region. Standing on this dock today reminds me of the vision Ocean Networks Canada had three years ago: to take our world-leading technology into the Arctic. That vision has been made possible in large part through the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. As we approach the second anniversary of this unique ocean monitoring station in Arctic waters, we look forward to supporting the government’s initiatives and providing the people of Cambridge Bay with information about their local ocean,” said Kate Moran, President and CEO, Ocean Networks Canada.

“This innovative scientific facility gives ONC researchers and their community partners critical insight into the fragile marine ecosystems of the Arctic Ocean. This unique facility anchored in the seabed of Cambridge Bay will provide both researchers and northern communities with new knowledge in an area of increasing environmental and economic significance,” commented Gilles Patry, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Prime Minister Visits Ocean Networks Canada Arctic Observatory 1Technology Canadian Made

The observatory instrument platform also hosts marine sensors developed by a number of leading Canadian companies.

“The ONC Cambridge Bay observatory represents the first application of our Ice Profiler technology to make real-time observations available for the northern polar environment. Providing access to real-time sea-ice and related data—to Northern communities and the world—represents an important contribution to polar science and technology,” said David Fissel, Chair and Senior Scientist, ASL Environmental Sciences Inc.

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a University of Victoria initiative, operates world-leading cabled ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. With NEPTUNE in the northeast Pacific and VENUS in the Salish Sea, ONC is changing the way we study oceans by providing data collected by hundreds of instruments and delivering it free through an Internet portal. Scientists and citizens alike can observe the underwater natural environment from anywhere in the globe, studying a wide range of phenomena including earthquakes, tsunamis, climate change, ambient noise and Arctic change.

As the Prime Minister’s Northern Tour wraps up, ONC is preparing for another important visit to Cambridge Bay: the second annual observatory maintenance expedition, from 14 to 26 September 2014. Engineering, science and community outreach specialists will once again head for the Arctic. They plan to retrieve the seafloor instruments for servicing and upgrading, and reconnect with the people of Cambridge Bay.

Press Release, August 25, 2014

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