North

Findings could make shipping in the Northwest Passage safer

Researchers from the University of Ottawa have published new findings that could help make shipping routes safer in the Northwest Passage. The team is led by researchers from the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research, some of the world's leading experts on Arctic glaciers.

Mapping icebergs could help mariners avoid collisions

An iceberg cluster surrounds the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Ann Harvey on Saturday, June 8, 2013, about 60 nautical miles east of Makkovik, Labrador. New research from University of Ottawa may help mariners prevent collisions between icebergs and ships. (The Canadian Press)

Researchers from the University of Ottawa have published new findings that could help make shipping routes safer in the Northwest Passage.

The team is led by researchers from the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research, some of the world's leading experts on Arctic glaciers.

Scientists measured the speed and thickness of 40 glaciers that flow into the Arctic Ocean, Baffin Bay and Nares Strait by compiling data from the last 15 years. From there, they were able to map where the icebergs are coming from and where they'll end up.

They found that the amount of icebergs produced by glaciers in Nunavut was relatively the same year after year. However, the amount of icebergs produced by each glacier fluctuated over time.

"We found that in recent years two-thirds of all icebergs have come from two glaciers located on Ellesmere Island," said Luke Copland, the director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research.

Copland says the findings will help prevent potential collisions between icebergs and ships.

"Now that we know from this study where the icebergs are being produced from, we can then better inform the shipping companies and Transport Canada where the ice is originating," he said. 

Copland and his team will be presenting their findings to Transport Canada and several shipping companies in Iqaluit August 17.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the study time frame at 25 years. In fact, it was 15. The story has also been corrected to more accurately reflect the number of glaciers which flow into the Arctic Ocean and the number of icebergs on Ellesmere Island.
    Aug 04, 2015 2:27 PM CT

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