Frozen Assets: GeoDecisions Platform Tracks Icebergs

August 2, 2015  - By
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Drifting tabular icebergs viewed from the Amundsen. (Photo courtesy of Greg McCullough, University of Manitoba)

Drifting tabular icebergs viewed from the Amundsen. (Photo courtesy of Greg McCullough, University of Manitoba)

A Canadian expedition team used GeoDecisions’ GeoILS platform to help track icebergs during a voyage to better understand how icebergs drift. An intelligent location server using the Esri ArcGIS platform, GeoILS enables users to monitor and locate assets and facilitate quick and coordinated responses.

GeoDecisions, an information technology company specializing in geospatial solutions, partnered with Solara Remote Data Delivery Incorporated, Canada’s Carleton University and Esri during the project.

The FT2000IB Solara tracker. (Photo by Tom Tessier)

The FT2000IB Solara tracker. (Photo by Tom Tessier)

Led by University of Manitoba Scientist David Barber, the crew of Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen sailed off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador to research ice hazard mitigation, the effects of climate change, and polar region technology requirements. GeoILS location intelligence helped crew members visualize, analyze, and leverage project-pertinent data.

“During the expedition, researchers and scientists used GeoILS to assess drifting through sensor monitors attached to the icebergs,” said Brian Smith, vice president of commercial solutions with GeoDecisions. “In addition to reporting and notifications, GeoILS provided the project team with maps that were tailored by selecting desired iceberg information and the geographic area of interest based on user-defined criteria.”

GeoDecisions’ data portal was used with Iridium Solara tracking devices during the iceberg research project. Two icebergs were outfitted with FT2000IB Solara trackers, explained Derek Mueller, assistant professor and physical geography program supervisor with Carleton University.

THE GROUND control point and beacon. (Photo by Derek Mueller)

THE GROUND control point and beacon. (Photo by Derek Mueller)

For each iceberg, two beacons were attached for redundancy and to determine the iceberg’s rotation. Holes were drilled and stakes inserted, then GeoDecisions Platform Tracks Icebergs the trackers attached to the stakes.

The trackers were also used as ground control points for photogrammetry, specifically the structure from motion ranging imaging technique.

“GeoILS and the satellite tracking beacons worked very well during this project,” Mueller said. “Thanks to our partners’ efforts, we now have a great new suite of tools for examining our data.”

“We are excited to provide tools to scientists who are gaining critical insights into the behavior of icebergs and global climate change,” said Tom Tessier, president of Solara Remote Data Delivery Incorporated.

The last tracker stopped transmitting on June 13. “The others ended earlier, likely because the iceberg rolled or broke up,” Mueller said.

The data will eventually be made public on the Polar Data Catalogue.

A representative snapshot of GeoILS’ features and range of functionality used during the Canadian iceberg expedition.

A representative snapshot of GeoILS’ features and range of functionality used during the Canadian iceberg expedition.

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