Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence
Canada Command

Canada Command

April 18, 2008 14:31 ET

Canadian Forces Assist With Survey of Arctic Seabed

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 18, 2008) - A Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft will deploy to northern Canada in mid-April to help survey the Arctic seabed. Natural Resources Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have been conducting Arctic surveys over the last three years to acquire the scientific data needed to substantiate Canada's submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, as provided for by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Government of Canada takes its submission to the UN Commission very seriously as is demonstrated by its coordinated effort to provide all the resources necessary to complete this important project.

"Obviously, this is very important research for the Government of Canada and the Canadian Forces are proud to play a part," said the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. "The Forces' primary responsibility is the defence of Canada, and this is yet another example of the added value the Canadian Forces bring everyday across Canada in defence of our sovereignty and values.

"Our commitment to this initiative, as well as other investments in the North, are ultimately about turning potential into prosperity for this remarkable region, and for our country as a whole," said the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, during a recent trip to Canada's most northernly community, Grise Fjord Nunavut, where Canadian scientists are successfully collecting geological data of the Polar Continental Shelf.

"The Canadian Forces have a wide range of unique capabilities that are frequently made available to support other government departments and agencies," said Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, Commander, Canada Command. "In fact, Canada Command was created two years ago in part to ensure that our partners across government have a single point of contact to coordinate this kind of Canadian Forces support."

Natural Resources Canada's current research is being led from a base camp 150 kilometres north of Eureka, Nunavut, off Ellesmere Island. The Aurora, based out of 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., will be supporting a survey of the Alpha Ridge, on the western coast of Ellesmere Island. The survey will help confirm Canada's sovereign rights under UNCLOS beyond 200 nautical miles. Using its underwater sensors, and with the support of personnel from Defence Research and Development Canada, the Aurora will significantly extend the reach of data collection efforts.

BACKGROUNDER

CP-140 Aurora surveys Arctic seabed

A Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft will deploy to the Canadian Arctic in mid-April to help survey the Arctic seabed, at the request of Natural Resources Canada. The Aurora and its crew of 18, including a senior technologist from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), will be deployed from April 19 to 29, 2008.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have been conducting Arctic surveys over the past three years to acquire the scientific data required to substantiate Canada's submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, as provided for by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Canada's submission must be presented by the end of 2013.

The geological characteristics of undersea ridges and sediments are of particular significance as these will help confirm the geographical area over which Canada has sovereign rights beyond 200 nautical miles. After meeting with researchers from NRCan and DFO, DRDC personnel developed original ways of applying existing military technologies to help extend the range of the ongoing surveys.

The Aurora crew is planning three eight-hour flights in support of a survey of the Alpha Ridge, north of Ellesmere Island. The crew will deploy seismic receivers known as geobuoys at the northern extremity of the survey area, significantly extending the range of the survey beyond that which could be achieved using civilian equipment. The geobuoys will be dropped at four-kilometre intervals and will expand the research area by up to 150 kilometres.

When dropped from the Aurora, the geobuoys embed in the ice and, instead of listening for submarines, they will detect controlled explosions generated further to the south by NRCan researchers. The acoustic data instantly will be transmitted back to the aircraft, where it can be immediately accessed, or stored for later analysis.

As the sounds generated by the explosions will take different paths through the ocean floor, by measuring the different flight times along those paths, scientists will be able to produce an audio picture of the seabed and thus a more accurate map of the ocean floor. This is the first time this kind of military technology has been used to map the Arctic seabed and DRDC is working on other techniques to assist with surveying the Arctic.

With considerable experience in the conduct of scientific experiments using military assets, including the CP-140 Aurora, DRDC personnel were key partners in planning this mission. DRDC is an agency of the Department of National Defence that addresses the scientific and technological needs of the Canadian Forces.

With a range of 9,266 kilometres, the CP-140 Aurora is currently the Canadian Forces only long-range patrol aircraft. With advances in technology and an ongoing modernization program, the Aurora is becoming increasingly valuable as a strategic intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) resource for the Canadian Forces.

Contact Information

  • Air Force Public Affairs, Winnipeg, MB
    Captain Steve Neta
    204-833-2500, ext 6795
    or
    DRDC Public Affairs, Ottawa, ON
    Bobbi-Jo Bradley
    613-992-7237
    or
    Information
    1-866-377-0811
    www.canadacom.forces.gc.ca