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Window On The Arctic


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A new observatory at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean will help keeps tabs on the delicate environment of the far north.

Canada’s University of Victoria, which runs the station has stated that the observatory will relay information continuously throughout the year for the first time ever.

The observatory includes an underwater camera, microphone, and a device that can measure ice thickness, coupled with instruments to measure temperature, salinity, and other data that can be used to monitor the health of the environment.

There is also an above-ground weather station to track local weather patterns and climate data.

University of Victoria researchers finished installing the observatory’s instruments in late 2012 before frigid conditions could halt their progress. It’s located in Cambridge Bay, in the Canadian province of Nunavut, north of the Arctic Circle.

The design of the new observatory is based in part on two larger networks of seafloor monitors off the coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, named VENUS and NEPTUNE. The latter is made up of six different instrument stations that gather data on plate tectonics, hydrothermal vents and deep sea creatures.

NEPTUNE Canada, the world’s first regional-scale cabled observatory network, is located off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The network, which extends across the Juan de Fuca plate, gathers live data from a rich constellation of instruments deployed in a broad spectrum of undersea environments.

VENUS was installed in the Saanich Inlet array in early 2006. The Strait of Georgia Mid-Water node was deployed at 170m in early 2008 and later that year, the Deep Water Node at 287m. The data is transmitted via high-speed fibre optic communications from the seafloor to an innovative data archival system at the University of Victoria. This system provides free Internet access to an immense wealth of data, both live and archived throughout the life of the planned 25-year project.

The new observatory built on Arctic Ocean seafloor in Nunavut, Canada will track climate and ocean data that could be used to sustain the fragile environment.

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