Ice Studies/Services

ASL Environmental Sciences has developed a full complement of skills and specially designed instruments to study complex ice environments. Significant interest in Polar environments and the role of ice as a climate change indicator has positioned ASL Environmental Sciences as a world leader in this field. A large part of ASL’s history and its current activities have and continue to focus on diverse ice environs. These studies include:

  • Sea ice and iceberg
  • Lake and River ice
  • Permafrost

In 1996, ASL introduced its Ice Profiler™(IPS), an upward looking sonar to meas sure sea ice keels to unprecedented accuracy and resolution. These instruments are now being used in ice infested waters around the world. Along with deployment and recovery services, ASL offers software and complete data processing and analysis for the IPS. The data acquired by the IPS provides extremely detailed measurements of the ice canopy including individual ice keels, level ice draft thickness and open water segments for periods of several months or longer. When deployed with an ADCP, ice velocities and ocean currents can be calculated to add a spatial component to the ice drafts and help define some of the pack-ice driving forces at work. The list of successful projects utilizing the IPS is rapidly growing and includes such locations as the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, Caspian Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Canadian East Coast. The figure below is an example of IPS data displaying a short segment of quasi-spatial ice draft.

Sample of quasi-spatial ice draft produced by combining time series draft and ice speed data. Through a licensing arrangement with the Canadian Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), ASL has been manufacturing and further developing the IPS to reduce energy consumption, increase data storage and fine tune the acoustic hardware and software of the IPS. Presently, ASL has sold over 125 of these instruments to research institutions, oil and gas companies, navigation agencies and ports and harbours all around the world.Read less

Sea Ice and Iceberg Studies

ASL has used the expertise associated with the IPS product in its service contracts in support of offshore oil and gas projects in ice infested waters including projects in Sakhalin Territory, Russia for Sakhalin Energy (Marathon Oil, then Shell Oil) and Exxon Neftegas and BP, in the Pechora Sea for Conoco Phillips and Lukoil, in the NE Caspian Sea of Kazakhstan for AgipKCO and Shell, St. Lawrence Seaway (Canadian Coast Guard, Petro-Canada/TransCanada Pipelines), Cook Inlet (ExxonMobil), and the Alaskan Beaufort Sea (Shell), the Chukchi Sea (Shell and ConocoPhillips) and the Canadian Beaufort Sea (Imperial Oil, BP and the Institute of Ocean Sciences). ASL also provides ice measurement equipment and services to research labs including the Institute of Ocean Sciences (Beaufo ort Sea), Eastern Arctic and Labrador Sea (Bedford Institute of Oceanography), Gulf of St. Lawrence (Public Works and Government Services Canada), the Sea of Okhotsk (Hokkaido University, Japan), Northeast Greenland (Norwegian Polar Institute and Chevron) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Data processing and analysis services

ASL Environmental Sciences Inc. covers a wide range of activities for data from Ice Profiler Sonar, ADCP and other moored instruments. These activities include:

  • Compilation of background data sets, particularly barometric pressure, winds and air temperatures from nearby weather stati ions, including data processing an plots; compilation of ice charts from U.S. and Canadian Ice agencies and satellite sources;
  • Plotting and editing of the ocean current profiles data sets as time series at 3-4 measurement levels for ADCPs and also for single level current meters; computation of statistical summaries;

  • Plotting and editing of the sea-ice velocities from the bottom tracking ADCPs, computation of statistical summaries;

  • Computation of the detailed ice draft time and distance series data sets based on the IPS range, pressure, temperature, tilt data sets and ice velocities;

  • Computation of ice draft large-keel statistical summaries, extremal value analysis and analysis of motion events.

Processing of IPS wave burst data to remove outlier data points, provide wave spectra and wave spectral parameters and to provide summary plots and statistics of the wave measurements during the fall and summer periods when there was little or no ice. Plotting and editing of the data from Conductivity and Temperature sensors and computation of statistical summaries; Computing monthly thickness statistics by different level ice, ridge and rubble thickness categories Preparing a data base of large keels (exceeding three user specified threshold levels) Analyzing extreme ice keel draft features & computing ice draft at 100 year recurrence interval Identifying rubbled ice features and compiling statistical summaries Computing monthly ice speed versus direction and versus ice draft statistics Computing extreme value projections of ice drift speeds Identifying icebergs in the data sets, if present less Similar analysis methods can be applied to other types of ice and oceanographic data sets, including satellite-tracked drifting ice beacon data.

Real-time Ice Measurement Systems

ASL has developed real-time ice measurement systems over the past decade:

  • a real-time IPS/ADCP system operated in the St. Lawrence Seaway from 2002 to 2007 in support for ship navigation;
  • a real-time IPS system operated off the Confederation Bridge in Northumberland Strait in Eastern Canada, 2005-2008; and
  • a real-time IPS system in the shallow waters of the NE Caspian Sea, operated from 2009 to the present.

ASL is presently involved in the design of real-time ice measurements systems being considered for operation in deeper Arctic waters, involving multiple measurement locations spanning horizontal distances of 0.5 to 30 km. For the ice measurement systems spanning distances of 1.5 km or more, ASL is working with Ocean Networks Canada of the University of Victoria to apply the technology developed for the VENUS and NEPTUNE Canada cabled fibre optics ocean observatory systems to ice and Arctic real-time ice measurement systems.

Sea Ice Numerical Modeling

ASL numerical modeling capabilities include Arctic and sea ice applications, including: Contributions to the development of the Canadian Ice Service operational ice models for the Canadian East Coast and the Canadian Beaufort Sea (1991- 2000); Development of coupled sea ice-ocean circulation models for the Canadian East Coast for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography (2001-2005); Modeling of the disposal and dispersion of drill cuttings in the Canadian Beaufort Sea (2009); Development and operation of a model to provide 1 to 5 day forecasts of pack ice edge locations in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea in support of tug-based resupply operations for northern Alaskan ports (2010).

Sea Ice Data Products (derived from Remote Sensing)

ASL now offers more capabilities for sea ice analyses with the availability of enhanced remote sensing through a merger with Borstad Associates. This provides improved data products for characterization of sea ice. Using historical ice data sets from many sources, ASL provides pertinent ice information for input to engineering design.

1) Sea Ice Data Sources (a sampling of):

2) Sea Ice Data Products – Derived from Remote Sensing Sea Ice Concentrations including total ice concentrations and by ice type (e.g. multi-year, first-year, , new ice) for local, regional or shipping corridor operational areas for specific times of the year. Ice Floe Sizes and Shapes, including density distributions, orientations and information on open water leads separating the floes. Ice Velocities, as derived from sequential satellite image scenes, and estimates derived from computation of wind and ocean current forcing. The statistical summaries of the above quantities, can be presented in a wide range of map-based or tabular formats, including frequency of occurrence and reccurence intervals of specified ice types and for open water. The ice information derived from remote sensing data sources is highly complementary to the sea ice information products that ASL provides based on moored upward looking sonar instruments, including ASL's Ice Profiler ™(see above).

3) New to ASL is real-time capabilities for monitoring/ predictions in the summer of 2011.

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