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MEOPAR Meeting Ocean Challenges Via Seven New, Research Projects

Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
Halifax, NS

The Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network is pleased to announce the addition of seven, new cutting-edge projects to our network. These projects are multi-disciplinary and align with our overall goal of improving Canada’s ability to manage and respond to risk in the marine environment.

“Our network’s research projects focus basic research onto practical issues, and are remarkably broad in scope,” says Dr. Douglas Wallace, MEOPAR’s Scientific Director. “The ocean is full of both hazards and opportunities: in this round, we’re addressing risk arising from fog, sea-ice, ship noise, radioactivity, ship-whale collisions, storms and tsunamis. The research involves coastal citizens, port authorities, emergency responders, ocean technology companies, the shipping industry, government agencies, environmental NGOs, and the offshore oil-gas industry.”

MEOPAR’s second Open Call has allocated $3.5 million, to support 7 projects led by universities across Canada. The new research projects are:


Modeling Ship Movements: Application for Noise Exposure to the Marine Ecosystem

The exposure of animals to ship-based noise is expected to increase as marine vessel activity increases, due to longer ice-free passages in the Arctic, and planned port expansions and new marine terminal construction on Canada’s Pacific coast. This research will explore and improve the utility and modeling of ship traffic, based on AIS and other data, as an indicator of noise to enable government, industry and, even individuals, make better decisions to mitigate marine noise impacts.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rosaline Canessa, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

Co-Investigators: Dr. R. Devillers, Memorial University  |  Dr. S. Matwin, Dalhousie University  |  Dr. P. O’Hara, Environment Canada/University of Victoria  |  Dr. R. Pelot, Dalhousie University  |  Dr. S. Vagle, Fisheries and Oceans Canada/University of Victoria

Partners & End Users: Fisheries and Oceans Canada  |  Communities of Sachs Harbour & Amundsen Gulf  |  exactEarth Ltd. |  JASCO Applied Sciences  |  Port Metro Vancouver  |  Esri Canada

Maritime Transportation Disruption: An Integrated Assessment for Coastal Community Resilience

This study will develop knowledge and tools to enhance the resilience of coastal communities to maritime transportation disruption. Just-in-time delivery systems, while improving economic efficiency, have created systems that are highly vulnerable. For example, Vancouver Island (pop. 750,000+) has food reserves of just 2-4 days and a fuel reserve of appx. 5 days. Ultimately, the research is expected to enhance the capacity of the stakeholders to understand the risk, prepare in advance, and respond effectively in marine emergencies, thereby reducing disaster losses to coastal communities.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Stephanie Chang, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia

Co-Investigators: Dr. H. Dowlatabadi, University of British Columbia  |  Dr. T. Haukaasb, University of British Columbia

Partners & End Users: Port Metro Vancouver  |  Port of Nanaimo  |  Seaspan Ferries  |  BC Ferries  |  BC Provincial Government  | Emergency Management BC

InFORM: International Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring Network

The 2011 meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FD-NPP) released radionuclides into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. Measurements indicate that a plume of seawater contaminated with FD-NPP radionuclides arrived in Canadian coastal water in June 2013. The InFORM team will build a distributed monitoring network involving government, academic, private sector and citizen scientists to acquire data, assess radiological risks and rapidly, appropriately and effectively disseminate this information to the public.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jay Cullen, School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria

Co-Investigators: Dr. K.O. Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution  |  Dr. J. Chen, Health Canada  |   Dr. E. Frank, University of British Columbia  |  Dr. J.N. Smith, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Partners & End Users: Health Canada (first MEOPAR health-related project) |  Fisheries and Oceans Canada  |  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution |  Clayoquot Biosphere Trust  |  Georgia Strait Alliance  | Raincoast Education Society  |  The Living Oceans Society

Improving Marine Drift and Dispersion Forecasts

Responding to marine emergencies in harsh, ice-infested coastal environments is challenging: survival time is shorter and conditions can be extremely difficult. This interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral initiative will improve surface forecasts, building the capacity to use the improved tools, and document the process for subsequent use elsewhere. The project addresses the dynamics of the surface boundary layer and many of the proposed developments will directly feed into the operational services already in place and managed by the CONCEPTS team and the MEOPAR Prediction and Observation Core projects.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Dany Dumont, Institut des sciences de la mer (ISMER), Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)

Co-Investigators: Dr. S. Plante, Société, Térritoire et Développement-UQAR  |  Dr. C. Chavanne, ISMER-UQAR  |   Dr. D. Bourgault, ISMER-UQAR  |  Dr. U. Neumeier, ISMER-UQAR  |  Dr. B. Tremblay, McGill University  |  Dr. D Lefaivre, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Partners & End Users: Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Search & Rescue |  CCG Auxiliary Services  |  CCG Icebreaking Services |  CCG Environmental Response Office |  La Mitis RCM Fire Services  | Observatoire global du Saint-Laurent  | DFO-CONCEPTS  | Parcs Québec

Forecasting Grand Banks Fog: Assessment, Improvement and Application

Frequent, severe fog is a considerable health and safety concern to marine industries operating on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Forecasting fog remains a challenge, with predictability limited by the complexity of fog processes, sparse marine observations, and the resolution and capability of operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems. Methods will be explored to improve fog prediction and those showing the greatest promise will be adapted for operational use at AMEC. Research will identify barriers to forecast use, and inform efforts to increase forecast usage across industry sectors.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Joel Finnis, Department of Geography, Memorial University

Co-Investigators: M. Abbott, AMEC Environment & Infrastructure  |  T. Bullock, AMEC Environment & Infrastructure  |   Dr. Barb Neis, Memorial University

Partners & End Users: Oil & gas sector |  AMEC  |  Environment Canada |  National Lab for Marine and Coastal Meteorology

Improved Sea Ice Prediction Through Assimilation of Ice Thickness Information and SAR Image Classification

High-resolution sea ice forecasts play a critical role in improving the safety of operations in ice-infested waters. For example, ice management around offshore structures and ship routing both require knowledge of ice concentration, thickness and drift. Preliminary work using higher resolution data suggests the representation of openings in the ice cover and details of the ice edge can be improved. By incorporating visual infrared (VIS/IR) sensors and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data sources into an operational sea ice forecasting system, we plan to assess their impact onforecasts of ice concentration, ice thickness and ice drift. 

Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrea Scott, Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo

Co-Investigators: Dr. D. Clausi, University of Waterloo  |  Dr. C. Haas, York University  |   Dr. C. Duguay, University of Waterloo  |  Dr. K. Ponnambalam, University of Waterloo  |  Dr. J. Dawson, University of Ottawa  |  Dr. H. Eicken, University of Alaska Fairbanks  |  Dr. M. Buehner, Canadian Meteorological Center  |    Dr. T. Carrieres, Canadian Ice Services  |  Dr. M. Arkett, Canadian Ice Service  |  Dr. N. Darlow, Imperial Oil Geoscience and ExxonMobil Geophysics

Partners & End Users: Canatec Associates International Ltd. |  Imperial Oil  |  Exxon Mobil |  Canadian Ice Service  |  Environment Canada  |  Transport Canada

WHaLE: Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment

Ocean-going vessels pose a threat to large whales worldwide. Working with partners, WHaLE plans to use glider-mounted high frequency echo sounders (whale food) and passive acoustic monitoring (whale sounds) to find and define whale habitat and to develop, test and implement a Canadian Whale Alert system whereby areas of concentrated and classified whale sounds will be available to mobile device users and can also be transmitted to vessels via an AIS-message. Trials will occur on both the East and West Coasts of Canada.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Taggart, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University

Co-Investigators: Dr. D. Duffus, University of Victoria  |  Dr. T. Ross, Dalhousie University

Partners & End Users: Akoostic | BC Ministry of Environment | Bell Aliant | Canadian Whale Institute | Canadian Wildlife Federation |Dalhousie Marine Affairs Program | EarthNC | Environment Canada | exactEarth | Fisheries and Oceans Canada | Irving Oil | JASCO | Maritime Transport Consulting Inc. | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA) | New England Aquarium | Ocean Tracking Network | Raincoast RNC | Shipping Federation of Canada | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | World Wildlife Fund Canada



The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) is a team of outstanding, Canadian natural and social scientists. We’re working to better understand and predict the impact of marine hazards on human activities and ecosystems…and improve our response. Our network includes 35 university researchers and131 highly qualified people from 12 universities. We work with: 18 federal & provincial departments and agencies, 30 industrial and other partners in Canada and beyond.

MEOPAR’s researchers study several kinds of marine hazards:

  • weather-related, e.g. storms, coastal erosion due to waves,
  • chemical and biological ocean changes, e.g. ocean acidification,
  • geophysical events, e.g. tsunamis, and
  • those triggered directly by human activities, e.g. oil spills, ship accidents.

We collaborate on over 27 research projects, but our network and projects are growing. Visit us at meopar.ca to learn more.

Hosted at Dalhousie University, MEOPAR is funded by the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program and was established in 2012.


Catherine Vardy
Communications Manager, MEOPAR

Neil Gall
Executive Director, MEOPAR