Canadian Gov't works for total Arctic surveillance for 2012
2010 02 02

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




Related Articles
"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

Fukushima radiation killing children, government hiding the truth
2014 04 22
Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba, a town near the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant, is warning his country that radiation contamination is affecting Japan’s greatest treasure - its children. Asked about government plans to relocate the people of Fatuba to the city of Iwaki, inside the Fukushima prefecture, Idogawa criticized the move as a "violation of human rights." Compared with Chernobyl, radiation ...
Why your fingerprints may not be unique
2014 04 22
Assumption that everyone has a unique fingerprint from which they can be identified through a computer database is flawed, says Home Office expert Mike Silverman Fingerprint evidence linking criminals to crime scenes has played a fundamental role in convictions in Britain since the first forensic laboratory was set up in Scotland Yard in 1901. But the basic assumption that everyone has a ...
Asteroids cause dozens of nuclear-scale blasts in Earth’s atmosphere
2014 04 22
Asteroids caused 26 nuclear-scale explosions in the Earth’s atmosphere between 2000 and 2013, a new report reveals. Some were more powerful – in one case, dozens of times stronger – than the atom bomb blast that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 with an energy yield equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT. Most occurred too high in the atmosphere to cause any serious damage ...
‘Editing DNA’ to eliminate genetic conditions now a reality
2014 04 22
Scientists have employed a revolutionary genome-editing computer technique that accurately identifies one faulty genetic “letter” among billions and effortlessly repairs a genetic condition in animals, paving way for human trials. The success, by MIT in Boston, is the latest achievement in the field of genome editing that has been catapulted into the spotlight through a technology that can pinpoint genetic faults ...
EU should ’undermine national homogeneity’ says UN migration chief
2014 04 22
The EU should "do its best to undermine" the "homogeneity" of its member states, the UN’s special representative for migration has said. Peter Sutherland told peers the future prosperity of many EU states depended on them becoming multicultural. He also suggested the UK government’s immigration policy had no basis in international law. He was being quizzed by the Lords EU home affairs sub-committee ...
More News »