Victoria company heads on expedition to Antarctica

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Welcome to this week’s Midweek Memo. In this issue, read about Ocean Networks Canada’s voyage to Antarctica, Alacrity Canada’s tech funding programs, the unemployment rate in Victoria, and incentives for green roofs.

Now, onto today’s briefing. It’s 927 words, a three-minute read.

Ocean Networks Canada joins the Spanish and the penguins

Lemaire channel, Antarctica. Credit: jtstewartphoto

Antarctica, the fifth largest continent in the world, has no countries and no permanent human population, although it does have nearly five million penguins – perhaps preferable. Sometimes referred to as the “world’s most important natural laboratory,” the isolated continent plays an essential role in understanding the impact of climate change on our planet. And it’s exactly where the team from Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) is headed.

Canadian and European experts in polar observation are joining forces in a new partnership that will see ONC operating a subsea observatory at the Spanish Antarctic Station, providing year-round, near real-time data on ocean conditions there. This is the first time that ONC will extend its ocean monitoring outside Canadian waters.

The partnership between ONC, a University of Victoria initiative, and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) will advance scientific understanding of one of the most under-observed parts of the planet, the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean.

The Juan Carlos I Antarctic scientific station operated by Spain, located on Hurd Peninsula, Livingston Island, in the South Shetlands, Antarctica. Credit: benedek

“ONC’s expertise in designing and successfully operating underwater observatories able to withstand harsh polar conditions will contribute to Spain’s scientific expertise in monitoring Antarctica, a continent that is critical to this planet’s climate system, and is undergoing rapid, consequential changes that we need to understand,” said Kate Moran, president and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada.

The announcement from ONC and CSIC follows a recent call for the urgent expansion of monitoring in the Antarctic Ocean. In a joint statement released at the 2023 Southern Ocean Observing System Symposium, 300 scientists from 25 nations raised concerns over challenges in identifying and analyzing environmental impacts as a result of a lack of observation in the Antarctic Ocean.

“This partnership with Ocean Networks Canada will provide vital ocean science data in the Southern Ocean, not least because the new observatory will operate year-round outside of the station’s staffed summer months,” said Jordi Sorribas Cervantes, director of the Unit of Marine Technology of the CSIC. “Having access to this near-continuous data, from anywhere in the world, will help meet the current data gap challenge in the Southern Ocean.”

Spanish polar research vessel, BIO Hespérides, docked at Ushuaia in Argentina, January 2024.  Credit: Jordi Sorribas Cervantes. 

The ONC observatory, including two ONC deep-sea Argo floats to be deployed in the Drake Passage during transit, is currently aboard the Spanish vessel Hespérides.

The Hespérides and its crew began the long journey from Barcelona last fall and are scheduled to leave Argentina this week, arriving at the Spanish Antarctic Station (BAE) Juan Carlos I, located on Livingston Island in the South Shetlands Archipelago, later this month.

Curious onlookers can track the live passage of the Hespérides on its journey.

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📰 More Victoria innovation news

👐 Stand by me: Alacrity Canada, headquartered in Victoria, recapped its 2023 program highlights, including entrepreneurship, startup visa, cleantech, and plastics action programs.

🌳 Green light: Victoria city council asked staff to investigate how it could remove obstacles to the development of green roofs in the province’s capital, aiming to improve sustainability and livability.

📊 Never change: The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce announced that unemployment in the region remained steady at 4.1 percent from November to December 2023, while the population grew by 700 people.

🕴️ Tech jobs of the week

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