Current expedition

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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way oceanographic research is conducted from the CCGS Amundsen in 2020. All programs from the initial 2020 field season that had an international component or that were targeting regions above 60°N have been tentatively postponed to 2021. As such, no transit of Amundsen-related scientists through any northern community is planned for 2020.  Amundsen Science’s primary objective during the current pandemic is to maintain acceptable at-sea research activities while taking the appropriate measures to not affect the health and safety of Canada’s northern communities and safeguard all sea-going personnel and support staff ashore. The following schedule has been elaborated in collaboration with all required governmental authorities and in accordance with the National Standard Operating Procedures of the Canadian Coast Guard. Please follow us on our web site and other various platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for continuous updates on the 2020 expedition.

Leg 1 – Atlantic Zonal Off-Shelf Monitoring Program

16 July to 13 August 2020, Quebec City to St. John’s

The first leg of the expedition is dedicated to the Atlantic Zonal Off-Shelf Monitoring Program (AZOMP). This long-term monitoring program led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in partnership with Amundsen Science and several Canadian universities, including Dalhousie University, University of Manitoba, Université du Québec à Rimouski, University of Alberta, and Université Laval, is centered around the annual survey of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of a long oceanographic transect (named AR7W) running from the Labrador coast to Greenland. No less than 52 oceanographic stations up to 3500 meters deep will be visited during the campaign. Since 1990, AZOMP has provided groundtruth observations of key oceanic characteristics essential to understand the physical and biogeochemical connectivity between the Labrador Sea and the Canadian Arctic. A central goal of the program is to assess the long-term regional climate variability and carbon flux/heat exchange in the Labrador Sea, and ultimately its impact on the ecosystems’ productivity, diversity, and fisheries.

 

LEG 2A – LABRADOR SEA OFFSHORE SPATIAL MAPPING & CORING/ MAKKOVIK BANK & NAIN ECOSYSTEM SURVEYS / HIBIO MOORINGS

13 August to 9 September 2020, St. John’s to Quebec City

Leg 2a supports two different programs: (1) Natural Resources Canada Marine Geoscience & Marine Spatial Planning program, involving seafloor sediment survey and deep-sea sampling operations at key geological sites of the Northeast Newfoundland Shelf and Slope. Key sampling targets are located in the West Orphan Basin within Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone to support a better understanding of the offshore/geological resource potential of the region; and (2) the Deep-water coral/seep habitats program led by Dalhousie University in collaboration with Memorial University, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, University of Calgary, and several other institutions, that aim at characterizing the Northern Labrador Sea and coastal environments using a co-located sampling of several different ecosystem components (fish, plankton, benthos, water, physical environment, mapping, etc.). In particular, the program involves the recovery and redeployment of two long-term moorings in Hatton Basin and extensive surveys of the Makkovik Bank and Nain marine ecosystems along the Labrador coast. The program directly links with the goal of acquiring the required data to define future Marine Protected Areas on the northeastern coast of Canada.

LEG 2B – INTEGRATION AND SEA TRIALS OF THE AMUNDSEN’S NEW REMOTELY OPERATED VEHICLE (ROV)

9 to 24 September 2020, Quebec City to Quebec City

Leg 2b focuses on the Amundsen’s new light work-class Comanche ROV integration and sea trials. Initially, a comprehensive 3-week ROV oceanographic mission was to take place in 2020, but because of the COVID-19 crisis, this was postponed to 2021. However, the new equipment will be integrated to the ship and fully tested in 2020 to be ready for next year’s official first dives. The waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary offer the ideal environment to test the ROV deployment procedures and to try out its versatile and unique capacities. The trials’ operations will include undertaking video surveys, high-resolution still photography of benthic habitats, the collection of coral and other benthic fauna samples, as well as sediment sampling using precisely-positioned sediment push cores. Please follow our different platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for more information on the integration and testing of the new Comanche ROV in the months to come.

 

Leg 3 – Mapping Program of the southeastern Arctic region

24 September to 24 October 2020, Quebec City to Quebec City

Leg 3 is an opportunistic science leg led by the Canadian Hydrographic Service in collaboration with Amundsen Science and the University of New Brunswick. The primary objective of this hydrographic survey is on expanding the modern hydrographic data coverage in the proposed Low Impact Shipping Corridors of eastern Canada. This program mainly involves multibeam/seafloor charting operations along the Labrador Coast, in Hudson Strait, and in southern Baffin Bay (as feasible), in areas with low or poor existing bathymetric coverage. This leg will be conducted concomitantly with regular Coast Guard operations in the southern Arctic and will involve dedicated science operations on an opportunity basis. Data obtained from the campaign will directly feed into updating existing bathymetric charts supporting the safer navigation of public and privately-owned vessels in Canadian waters.