Technology Solutions in an Opening Arctic

The Marine Technology Society in conjunction with the House Oceans Caucus and the Congressional Arctic Working Group held a briefing on Technology solutions in an  opening Arctic.  The briefing focused on problems associated with increased traffic in the Arctic and how technology can help mitigate these issues.

Presentations were given by the following:

  • Jon White, President, Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • Dr. Kelly Falkner, National Science Foundation
  • David Mottarella, Maritime Harris Corp
  • Graham Hine, Liquid Robotics

Jon White discussed Arctic security and the potential impacts of an oil spill in the Arctic, which he says would be more disastrous than the Deep Water Horizon spill.  The U.S. needs to be prepared for this type of event, as it is expected there will be a northern trade route by 2025.  With this trade route in mind, the U.S. needs to look at ways to better capture and forecast future scenarios in the Arctic, as well as improve charting of the Arctic.  He stated that the number one thing the Arctic needs is “ships”, specifically entrepreneur-ships.  He added the U.S. should respond more aggressively to Russia.

Dr. Kelly Falkner stated that global warming is causing Arctic Amplification, which is quickly warming the poles.  We need to study the effects of the warming on Arctic sea life.  Much of the artic seafloor is still unexplored, and this September we expect to have the lowest extent of sea ice.  Walruses are particularly affected by warming in the Arctic

David Mottarella indicated that Maritime Harris Corp uses satellites to monitor ships using Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).  This system is getting closer to a permanent real time presence on the ships in the Arctic.  The new Polar Code has forced ships to use AIS, which will help the abilities of this system.  The satellite system they utilize receives over 6.5 million messages a day.  By their estimates, they predict that by next year they will have 98% of world ships covered, including 100% of ships in the Arctic.  This system will be able to monitor ships for environmental standards.

Graham Hine stated that Arctic change is driving innovation.  Powered by wave and solar energy, Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider is the only unmanned surface robot providing real-time ocean data collection and communications over long durations and in varying sea states.  Sitting at the surface, the Wave Glider is a sea floor-to-space link creating a network to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Liquid Robotics’ automatic surface water vehicles are wave-propelled and can handle severe weather conditions.  Waves seem to be getting larger in the Arctic due to increased ice break up and resulting ocean activity.  Liquid Robotics shares data they collect with some Arctic nations but does not share the portions they consider proprietary.