Surveys from an Ice Camp

Ice camp 2006
Ice camp used during the Joint Canada – Denmark survey LORITA (Lomonosov Ridge Test of Appurtenance) in 2006

Operations in the Arctic take place under challenging conditions. Weather and ice play important roles in determining the success of these surveys. The field seasons are short, about six weeks in the spring for the on-ice surveys. These surveys use helicopters and the temperature needs to be cold enough so that no ice-fog forms, which prevents the helicopters from flying and could dangerously strand researchers on ice floes. High-powered sound waves were used to penetrate deep beneath the seafloor and bathymetric soundings were used to identify the shape of underwater ridges. Autonomous underwater vehicles (unmanned, mini-submersibles) were also deployed during the Borden Island survey to collect bathymetric data under the ice.

Ice camp 2008
Ice camp used during the Canadian survey ARTA (Alpha Ridge Test of Appurtenance) in 2008.

Ice camps must be built from scratch – including constructing an airstrip – and all supplies flown in.  They must also be completely disassembled and all equipment removed at the end of the survey.  No traces, other than footprints, are left behind.

Ice camps were used for on-ice surveys for the:

  • Joint Canada – Denmark survey LORITA (Lomonosov Ridge Test of Appurtenance) in 2006
  • Canadian survey ARTA (Alpha Ridge Test of Appurtenance) in 2008
  • Joint Canada – Denmark survey from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut in 2009
  • Canadian survey from Borden Island in 2010

Watch Natural Resources Canada’s Patrick Potter recount his experiences at an ice camp located just north of Nansen Sound, Ellesmere Island.

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