In September 2012, Ocean Networks Canada installed a community-based cabled seafloor observatory in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut—the first of its kind to be installed in Canada’s North.
Each year, ONC teams travel to this northern hamlet for an important maintenance expedition to clean and upgrade the observatory infrastructure and instruments. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with the residents of Cambridge Bay.
Right now, members of the engineering, science and outreach teams are busy preparing for the third visit, from 14-28 September.
New and improved technology
This year, the main instrument platform will be retrieved from the seafloor and replaced with a new lightweight platform. Instruments to be installed will include an underwater HD video camera, a new hydrophone, a new water quality monitor, an acoustic ice profiler and a fish tag receiver from Ocean Tracking Network.
This year, the teams will also be installing a new light sensor (Photosynthetically Active Radiation sensor, or PAR) to measure underwater light levels, particularly during the spring when the polar sunrise triggers algal blooms under the ice.
Above water, the video camera will continue to monitor surface ice formation and the weather station will provide real-time atmospheric conditions, and the Automatic Identification System antenna positioned on top of a local building will continue capturing location and identity signals from nearby ships.
During the redeployment of the new platform, ONC scientific divers will also sample fauna on the seafloor, and conduct surveys for a new observatory location for 2015 that will position the underwater sensors at a greater distance from vessels and winter road traffic near the local dock.
In the current context of climate change and the pressures that global warming imposes on the environment, especially in the Arctic, continuous monitoring and collection of time series data are crucial to understanding and managing the Arctic Ocean.
The Cambridge Bay observatory has been successfully running for nearly 2 years now, and is helping establish a baseline of environmental conditions such as rates of ice growth and the timing of plankton blooms.