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Canadian expedition uses ArcGIS-based solution to track icebergs

Last spring, a team of scientists from Carleton University sailed off of the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador on a voyage to better understand how icebergs drift. Read about how they used GIS technology for the study, which will help provide valuable insight on how to mitigate ice hazards and the effects of climate change.

Last spring, a team of scientists from Carleton University, along with the crew of Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker Amundsen, sailed off of the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador on a two-week voyage to develop a better understanding of how icebergs drift.

The research will provide more insight on how to mitigate ice hazards and the effects of climate change, and help determine the technology requirements of the polar region. GIS technology from Esri and Esri partner GeoDecisions, as well as tracking devices from Solara Remote Data Delivery, were used for the study.

A view of drifting icebergs from the Amundsen (Image courtesy of Greg McCullough, University of Manitoba)

To capture data on iceberg movement, Solara tracking devices were attached to icebergs. The devices recorded the icebergs’ GPS position and transmitted the data to GeoDecisions’ GeoILS Intelligent Location Server.

Tracking devices, such as the one pictured on the left, were drilled into two icebergs with a stake. Two devices were attached per iceberg for redundancy and to determine the iceberg’s rotation. They were also used as ground control points for photogrammetry.

GeoILS uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to provide powerful mapping and visualization capabilities. Through the GIS-based solution, the team easily visualized iceberg movement on a map and efficiently managed and used project-relevant data for better analysis during the expedition. As well, it enabled them to produce customized maps with iceberg information for geographic areas of interest based on specified criteria.

Data captured by the tracking devices was stored, mapped and analyzed using the ArcGIS-based GeoILS solution.

With an efficient technology solution, the team now has a new suite of advanced GIS tools for examining data. While much work is needed to complete the analysis and publish the results of the study, data collected will eventually be made public on the Polar Data Catalogue.

Do you want to find out more about how ArcGIS is used to study iceberg movement? Read this ArcWatch article.

About the Author

Joy Chan is the Marketing Communications Manager for Esri Canada. She is passionate about sharing how GIS makes the world sustainable and how you don’t need to be a cartographer to make great maps. Joy has a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and has over 20 years’ international experience in the technology industry.

Profile Photo of Joy Chan