Deepwater Mapping in Uncharted Territory: Pioneering New Approaches for Climate Change Research
Researchers Andrew Hamilton and Gabriel Joyal embarked on a Vagabond Research Cruise in August 2019 to conduct climate change research and crowd-sourced bathymetry in the South East coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada. Hamilton, from the University of Ottawa and University of Alberta, aimed to understand glacier-ocean interactions in the high Arctic by mapping the bathymetry of glacial fjords. Hamilton chose to charter a small private sailboat during the ice minimum season and used a Sonic 2026 system to conduct the mapping.
Hamilton chose the Sonic 2026 system for its portability and ability to map down to 500m to 600m, crucial for mapping deep troughs that connect glacial fjords to offshore. As the researchers were interested in mapping the vertical walls of glacier termini, a system with directionality capabilities was also important. The system provided clean and usable data immediately, even in shallow water at high resolution. The low power consumption of the system proved an asset to the researchers as they were able to run the multi-beam off the battery stack of the sailboat itself.
Hamilton and Joyal were able to map sub-glacial tunnels and features on the glacier wall and the seafloor in front of the glacier, which Hamilton describes as "lifting the veil on the ocean to see what was below." Hamilton explains that the Sonic 2026 system provided context for his oceanographic data and proved to be the only viable option for providing data in the varied settings they worked with