Surveillance Systems Being Set Up in the Arctic Northwest Passage

northern-watch-camp2009The Canadian Military has surveillance systems set up in the Northwest Passage to watch for foreign vessels traveling through the waterway from the east. The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America. Part of the responsibility of the Canadian Northern Watch Program is to test these surveillance devices. But testing the equipment has proven both difficult and dangerous in the harsh environment of the arctic.


So far the the crew of the Northern Watch Program, which only operates on location in the summer when temperatures are livable, has been forced to find a new path leading to their main camp main camp from a remote lookout site — on an outcrop 300 meters above water — because the existing route turned out to be dangerous.

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Northwest Passage routes

“The weather conditions are pretty variable….Things can change dramatically and [in a] very short amount of time.” says Rick Williams, director general of science and technology operations with Defense Research and Development Canada.

But regardless of all of these issues, this summer, Williams and his team was able to install an underwater array of surveillance sensors that gathered data for about four weeks in Barrow Strait. “The kind of information we gather, the kinds of pictures we can take from the shoreline — that demonstrates we’re getting smarter about how to do that channel surveillance.”

Despite all their obstacles, the team  is working on a surveillance technology that will operate all year around and they plan on returning next summer to implement it.

(Via CBC News)


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