Svalbard 2014

CARD team completes collaborative field program in the Barents Sea

A team of Arctic researchers from CARD and Memorial University completed an exciting field program in collaboration with the University Centre of Svalbard (UNIS) in the Barents Sea, north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Based out of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the program was conducted during 22-29 April 2014 by an international team of researchers and students from Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Funded through the Arctic Tech Research-based Highly Qualified Personnel Initiatives Program of the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC), the Canadian team comprised: Dr. Rocky Taylor, CARD Chair in Ice Mechanics at Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; CARD researchers Drs. Eleanor Bailey and Ian Turnbull; as well as two Memorial graduate students, Doug Smith and Regina Sopper.

Participation in a field program of this scope is a rare opportunity and a valuable learning experience for students and researchers alike. The team performed on-ice field tests and completed an intensive data collection campaign in an environment that is not only isolated and challenging, but also lacks the communications and transportation infrastructure of more southerly locations.

The data was used to identify and document different types of ice features and to validate new techniques for interpreting satellite imagery for the purpose of ice environment characterization, as well as to assess the physical and mechanical properties of sea ice and ice ridges.

Collecting and analysing high-quality field data was a key element of CARD’s five-year research plan: such data helps improve understanding of the ice conditions in the Arctic and offshore Newfoundland and Labrador and aid the development of new models and technology to support the development of northern oil and gas resources. This field program’s on-ice data collection campaign supported a number of research projects.

It also provided an opportunity to train both researchers and students in field data collection techniques, helping to advance another important CARD goal: to build new capacity among the next generation of Arctic experts, a goal that the provincial research funding body is pleased to support:   “This type of learning opportunity is necessary for the development of highly qualified personnel and world-class expertise in an area of great importance to the province,” said  RDC Chief Executive Officer Glenn Janes.

The CARD/Memorial participation in this Barents Sea field program was conceived in January 2014, when the program leader Dr. Aleksey Marchenko was hosted as a visiting researcher at CARD. Memorial University’s vice-president (research), Dr. Richard Marceau, applauds the result: “CARD’s Visiting Researcher Program is fostering increased international collaboration between CARD, Memorial and other northern universities.”

It was expected that the CARD/Memorial participation in the Barents Sea program would be the first of many opportunities for exchange, research, and training with Arctic research projects and organizations around the world.