Canadian Gov't works for total Arctic surveillance for 2012
By Bob Weber | YahooNews.ca
A small team of scientists is returning to the icy shores of the Northwest Passage this summer to install experimental listening devices that could one day keep a 24-hour watch for anything travelling on, over or under waters Canada claims as its own.
"We're looking at surface shipping and any underwater vehicles that may be moving through the area," says Lt.-Cmdr. Bruce Grychkowski, project manager of Northern Watch, which plans to plant a series of surveillance devices deep underwater at a choke point along the passage on the Barrow Strait.
Now in its third year, the Northern Watch program calls for the installation of a set of six different monitors at Gascoyne Inlet on Devon Island.
One sensor array will snake deep underwater 11 kilometres out to sea. Two others will track automatic identification broadcasts now mandatory on both large ships and planes.
A radar intercept system will detect the presence of navigational radar. A special Canadian-designed radar should be precise enough to detect small boats or icebergs.
Finally, an optical system will use laser and infrared imagers to peer across the icy waters to the far shore. A weather station will complete the project.
The devices will be left unmanned and will beam data up to an overhead satellite. In October, scientists in Halifax will begin a 12-month test to see how well the devices work in the harsh Arctic environment.
The sensors should give Canada a much better idea of who's using the Arctic than do current satellite scans, says Grychkowski.
Northern Watch "is looking at the same area all the time," he says. "A satellite will visit the area so many times a day."
Traffic in the passage is picking up as melting Arctic sea ice presents less and less of a hindrance.
Coast Guard figures show there were 62 commercial and re-supply ships and three ore carriers in the passage in 2008 - more than the 54 ships, including research and recreational vessels, that entered those waters four years earlier.
An increasing number of recreational sailors are also braving the legendary waterway.
Earlier this year, a Senate report recommended the government beef up control of the Northwest Passage by improving surveillance along it. That will also improve search and rescue capability in the area by giving searchers a definite point when and where vessels or aircraft were last seen, Grychkowski says.
"We have a starting point for search-and-rescue to start looking for them."
If all goes well, Grychkowski says a comprehensive surveillance system could be up and running by 2012.
It's about time, says Rob Huebert of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
"I'm increasingly becoming convinced that we're seeing a substantial arms buildup in the Arctic," he says.
"The Arctic in general is becoming a busier place. It just is required that we know who's up there."
As well, the fact Northern Watch is Canadian technology will save the military from depending on U.S. willingness to share resources.
Northern Watch has its roots in the Cold War. Scientists from Defence Research and Development Canada first came to Gascoyne Inlet in the 1960s to study the possibility of installing an underwater listening device. Early underwater cables were destroyed by ice, so a pipe leading from shore was installed to protect them.
No devices were put in place, but the current Northern Watch program uses that same pipe installed decades ago.
Concerns over Arctic sovereignty revived the project. However, it suffered setbacks in 2008, when Arctic weather and ocean conditions left underwater sensors badly damaged. According to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under Access to Information laws, the project was also slowed by cost overruns and administrative delays.
"It is a very long process because we've already encountered some difficulty," says Grychkowski, who assumed responsibility for the project last August.
Government belt-tightening has also affected this year's Northern Watch program, Grychkowski acknowledges.
"The budget is not as large as it normally would be," he says.
The total budget for the project is about $10 million, documents say.
Still, when Northern Watch is complete, it will give Canada a unique eye on its Arctic flank.
"There is activity up there," says Grychkowski. "We are demonstrating we have the capability to do unmanned surveillance in an area that has the government of Canada's interest."
Article from: YahooNews.ca
"Doomsday Seed Vault" in the Arctic
North Pole 'was once subtropical'
Inuit seek answers to Arctic sun quirks
Ice on fire: The next fossil fuel
Arctic borders will be defended
Remote-controlled aircraft would patrol Arctic: military
Northern Watch Technology Demonstration (TD) Project
Not to be confused with "Operation Northern Watch" in Iraq
Latest News from our Front Page
Obama Administration Likely to Block New Redskins Stadium
The Obama administration will likely block Washington, D.C., authorities from building a new stadium for the NFL’s Washington Redskins because of objections to the team’s name.
The National Park Service (NPS) owns the land under the 54-year-old Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, a venue two miles east of the Capitol that hosted the Redskins from 1961 to 1996. Some city leaders ...
Safe spaces, white tears and getting kicked out of a women's group - by two men
Lately I've been kicked out of a couple of groups I belong to, for daring to question received wisdom or refusing to go along with the rules of identity politics.
For instance, I was thrown out my university women's group -- by two men! -- for questioning an article on Jezebel about "cultural appropriation."
They explained that the group was supposed to ...
Ghost rider in the sky: Scientists use lasers to project movie onto clouds
A green ghost rider appeared in the sky over the British city of Nottingham when scientists started testing a newly developed projecting device which allows the beaming of moving images directly onto clouds for the first time ever.
The image of a galloping horse rider was projected onto the clouds from a distance of 50 meters by a special laser-based projection ...
China’s stock market is crashing, and the Chinese are trying to do the exact same thing America did in 1929
‘While European attention is focused on Greece, China is having a serious market meltdown.
After exploding earlier in the year because of deregulation, China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite has collapsed a crazy 29% since the highs of early June. China’s other stock markets have had similarly steep falls.
Bloomberg notes that the crisis is closely mirroring the 1929 Wall Street crash, which led ...
Oregon Is First State to Charge Drivers for Each Mile They Drive
When he's not riding his bicycle, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, said he's driving a fuel-efficient hybrid, and that's a problem, because it means he's not paying his "fair share" for highway maintenance.
Blumenauer says that's why he signed up for OReGO, the nation's first program to charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive.
The program launched on ...
|More News » |