Grand banks iceberg management

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TypeTechnical Report
AbstractThis report summarizes the current state-of-the-art of iceberg management on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada through description of the magnitude and range of iceberg conditions, and the approaches used for iceberg detection and towing. There is presently a high standard of iceberg towing and deflection capabilities and iceberg detection frameworks in place, all implemented with generally proven ice management plans and programs. There appear to be no major issues with iceberg towing. The long standing synthetic line tow rope method has been effective for many years. The new iceberg tow net has been demonstrated over the past three to four years to significantly improve the prospect of managing slippery or otherwise hard to tow small and medium icebergs. Greater experience with the net would improve confidence for vessel captains and industry. Early detection of icebergs and minimizing possible gaps in the spatial, temporal, and environmental conditions coverage provided by the growing range of satellite and radar technologies together with aerial reconnaissance, remain challenges. Further quantification of these coverage parameters and the potential benefits and limitations would be valuable as input into planning and decision-making tasks. Increased operational use of satellites would improve their confidence for all stakeholders. Resource management and decision-making including which icebergs to tow, how soon, in which directions, and for how long are perennial challenges especially with multiple fields since different operators have different needs and priorities. This is significant both from a risk mitigation standpoint, to ensure that the “best” decision can be made, and from a cost perspective so that resources are assigned for appropriate lengths of time. The use of data fusion and decision-making tools would appear to be the obvious route and good progress has been made with each. Better monitoring and assimilation of met-ocean conditions is another factor for the decision-making. The PERD iceberg sighting and iceberg management databases are good information resources and they should be maintained. The databases offer utility in a number of areas including study of past conditions and performances, for planning future activities, and possibly as input to other initiatives, such as decision-making or data fusion toolboxes and iceberg management planning aid technologies. A suggested plan to identify outstanding iceberg management issues, that in order to solve or measurably improve require dedicated research, is presented. A descriptive list of issues is provided for initial consideration by stakeholders. It is proposed that ideally the present and target levels of performance for each are estimated to help judge the possible costbenefit of pursuing each issue. An agreement on objectives, determination of constraints and resource requirements, and scheduling are then required followed by validation of the plan. A timely discussion is also presented on the rapid changes in the melt and calving rate of the Greenland ice sheet in response to equally rapid air and ocean temperature warming in the last decade, and the effects of these changes on sea ice and icebergs. These environmental changes directly affect both the Labrador Sea and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and are front and centre in the debate over global climate change.
Publication date
AffiliationNational Research Council Canada; NRC Canadian Hydraulics Centre
NotePrepared for Dr. Garry Timco, Canadian Hydraulics Centre, National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedNo
NPARC number12328812
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Record identifier754dda8b-6c1c-4712-bdc8-a8844324ccaa
Record created2009-09-10
Record modified2016-10-21
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