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A Meteorological Observatory in the Northwest Passage: Understanding Sea Ice Changes and Inuit use of Scientific Information

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    Dr. Brent Else University of Calgary

Understanding sea ice changes in the Northwest Passage, which presents new opportunities and risks for governments, industry, and coastal communities.

In the Northwest Passage, sea ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall, creating a longer navigation season and presenting new opportunities and risks for governments, industry, and coastal communities.  Understanding these sea ice changes requires knowledge of the surface energy balance – essentially the sum of all processes that add or remove energy from the marine environment.

The overarching objective of this project is to merge meteorological observations with Inuit needs to manage risk when using sea ice for traditional activities. The project has made significant progress over it's first year:

  • A weather station location was identified, and the station was installed in August 2015
  • MSc and BSc students were recruited to work on the project
  • Community interviews were conducted by a Postdoctoral Fellow in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk
  • Significant new partnerships were developed.  


  • ASL Environmental Sciences Inc.
  • Ocean Networks Canada
  • Environment Canada - ON


  • Jeremy Whitehead

User-friendly data from the weather station will be made available through ArcticConnect, a network-enabled platform for collecting and disseminating Arctic data.  Our intention is to help the community of Cambridge Bay use this information to mitigate risk when travelling on the ice.  

The main scientific outcome of the project will be an improved understanding of the weather conditions that control ice melt and formation timing. This information is of interest to our industry partner (ASL Environmental Sciences Inc.), our government partner (Environment Canada), and other academic researchers (e.g. Ocean Networks Canada).