Research Studies

The ESRF is currently supporting the following research projects:

Southern Region

Mid-Labrador Marine Megafauna and Acoustic Surveys on the Labrador Coast (2010-07S).  Baseline Surveys for Seabirds on the Labrador Sea (2010-08S).These two projects are documenting the occurrence and population densities of marine mammals and seabirds along those parts of the Labrador Sea potentially  of interest for oil and gas development. The marine mammal surveys are supplemented by the deployment of acoustic recorders at two locations to record cetacean vocalizations. Another objective of the projects is to involve and transfer survey skills to local individuals, particularly Indigenous Labradoreans, whenever possible.

Effectiveness of Observers in Visually Detecting Dead Seabirds on Open Ocean (2010-21S). This field study assesses the accuracy of observers in evaluating seabird mortality from a vessel platform in the open ocean. To achieve this objective, simulated seabirds, equipped with satellite telemetry, will be released into an area of open ocean in advance of a survey vessel carrying observers. Since the number and location of the simulated seabirds will be known, the effectiveness of the observers can be evaluated. The outcome of this experiment will improve the models used by the Canadian Wildlife Service to help evaluate seabird mortality from hydrocarbon spills.

Data Display and Source Apportionment of Volatile Organic Compounds and Particulate Matter on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada (2011-05S). This study measures airborne volatile organic carbons and particulate matter through sensors placed on Sable Island. The experimental design will permit researchers to determine the proportion of these air contaminants that originates from nearby gas production installations versus marine traffic sources versus natural source.

Development, Validation and Implementation of an Operational Ocean Forecasting System for the Grand Banks and Orphan Basin for Daily Operational Delivery at the Canadian Meteorological Centre (2013-03S). Accurate forecasting of oceanographic and weather conditions to support routine offshore oil and gas operations and emergency response operations is essential. This project will provide a significant enhancement in the resolution and hence, the accuracy of ocean forecasting services provided through Environment Canada over a large part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area and northern parts of the Nova Scotia Offshore Area. The project will provide improved forecast data for input into oil spill modelling and iceberg drift scenarios and modelling through the Canadian Meteorological Center. Additionally, research and development is occurring to benchmark the ocean forecast system performance in real time with oceanographic observations that are made available.

Assessment of the Potential Risks of Seismic Surveys to Affect Snow Crab Resources (2014-01S). The snow crab fishery is one of the highest landed value fisheries in the Newfoundland and Labrador region. Fishers have expressed concern over the potential for reduction in catch of snow crab in proximity to active seismic survey operations. This study aims to investigate potential effects of seismic exploration activity on commercial snow crab catch rate using scientific measures of changes in crab behaviour (i.e. movement), commercial catchability, and physiological effects in response to seismic air gun operations.

Acoustic Modeling and Monitoring on Canada's East Coast (2014-02S). This study will record the natural soundscape on Canada East Coast and study seismic sound propagation.  It will create new knowledge on the natural soundscape in the region, generate accurate models of the effects of seismic surveys, and validate particle motion models for seismic airguns.

Assessing the Quality of Marine Mammal Detections using Three Complementary Methods (2014-03S).Monitoring for marine mammals is a required mitigation measure during the performance of marine seismic surveys in Canada. Routinely, sound energy emissions from seismic survey air gun arrays are halted when marine mammals and/or species at risk move within 500 meters of an array. Efficient and accurate observations of marine mammals are important in this context. This project will evaluate the comparative effectiveness and efficiency of three different methods of detecting marine mammals in the field.

Investigation of effects of East Coast Canada Water Accommodated Fraction and Chemically Enhanced Water Accommodated Fraction on Early Life Stages of Commercially Harvested Marine Species (2014-04S).  The potential effects of exposure of commercial fish species to a crude oil spill and any dispersants used to mitigate the effects of such a spill are a concern. This study examines the toxicology of those fractions of a representative east coast crude oil that are entrained in water, both naturally and as a result of dispersant use, to the early life stages of Atlantic herring, Atlantic cod, American lobster and Northern shrimp

Northern Region

Quantitative Assessment of the Interaction between Beaufort Sea Crude Oils and Mackenzie River Delta Suspended Sediments (2013-06N).  Extensive bench-scale testing will be conducted on oil-sediment interaction at low temperatures with and without chemical dispersants, using selected crude oils from the Beaufort Sea and Norman Wells and selected sediment samples from the Mackenzie River Delta and Norman Wells.

Experimental Spill to Research Spill Treating Agent Use in the Beaufort Sea: Preparation of Detailed Experimental Plan (2014-01N). There has been a renewed effort to develop and improve countermeasures techniques that deal with some of the unique aspects of Arctic spill response. Spills in pack ice conditions have long been a difficult problem for spill responders. In particular, the remoteness of potential spill locations means that storing, transferring, and disposing of collected materials present a significant logistical challenge. As well, the presence of ice can greatly complicate the ability to collect and concentrate oil using containment booms for skimming.  This project will develop three detailed experimental plans that include large-scale field tests to study the effectiveness and operational issues of three promising marine spill responses.

Integrated Beaufort Observatory (2014-02N).  This study will establish a regional ocean, sea ice and atmosphere observing system in the Canadian Beaufort Sea called the integrated Beaufort Observatory (iBO). The project will use a series of integrated state-of-the-art environmental technologies deployed on ocean moorings in the Beaufort Sea to enable systematic observation of the marine environment including ice and ocean conditions. Ultimately, this information will enhance the numerical models required for planning and review of offshore activities throughout the region.

Proactive disclosure of funding agreements

Information on funding agreements within the ESRF over $25,000.