Collaborative Arctic field program in Barents Sea completed

May 9th, 2014

By Deirdre Greene Lono

Dr. Rocky Taylor working with UNIS team on ice beam fracture experiments.
Collaborative Arctic field program in Barents Sea completed

A team of Arctic researchers from Memorial University and the C-CORE Centre for Arctic Resource Development (CARD) have completed an exciting collaborative field program with the University Centre of Svalbard (UNIS) in the Barents Sea, which lies in the high Arctic, north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Based out of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the program was conducted April 22-29 by an international team of researchers and students from Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Funded through the Research & Development Corporation’s (RDC’s) ArcticTECH Program, the Canadian team included 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; and two Memorial graduate students, Doug Smith and Regina Sopper.

Participation in a field program of this scope is a rare opportunity.

“It was a great learning experience for students and researchers alike,” said Dr. Rocky Taylor, team leader. “We performed on-ice field tests and completed an intensive data collection campaign in an environment that is rarely visited by researchers.”

The data is being 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 is a key element of CARD’s five-year research plan,” said Dr. David Murrin, CARD’s executive director. “Such data will help 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 will support a number of current and new research projects.

“It also gave us an opportunity to train both researchers and students in field data collection techniques, helping advance another important CARD goal: to build new capacity among the next generation of Arctic experts.”

“This unique opportunity for Memorial researchers supports our commitment to increasing Arctic R&D capacity,” said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer, RDC. “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.”

The Memorial/CARD 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 sees the value for Memorial’s research community. 

“CARD’s Visiting Researcher Program is fostering increased international collaboration between CARD, Memorial and other Northern universities,” he said. “We expect Memorial’s participation in the Barents Sea program to be the first of many opportunities for exchange, research and training with Arctic research projects and organizations around the world.”

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