Ice Observer Training | Canatec

By: Canatec Associates International  09-12-2011
Keywords: Ice, satellite, Data Acquisition


Vessels and offshore platforms operating in ice-covered waters require personnel skilled in observation, analysis and management of ice. Canatec offers training courses for:

  • Ice Advisors – people with science or engineering degrees, to take the lead analytical position in the field ice team advising the Offshore Installation Manager.
  • Ice Navigators – experienced mariners and ship pilots who have experience in ice, to take the lead operational position on the field ice team advising the Offshore Installation Manager on ice management activities.
  • Ice Observers – technical level people who provide data inputs from ship and airborne reconnaissance stations at the offshore site, to the Ice Advisor. They are primarily shipboard deck officers and, where projects have dedicated aircraft for reconnaissance, aircrew. Canatec also offers courses specially designed for Native peoples in Arctic regions seeking meaningful employment in the modern resource sector. They will learn how to quantify ice data from visual inspection and make reports. Canatec supplies PDAs and data acquisition software designed to facilitate their work in complex industrial environments.

Course Syllabus

The following table describes classroom content for the Ice Advisor position. Ice Navigators take fewer of these modules, in the same form. Ice Observers take all the modules, but they are presented in less detail and in less technical language.

Topic Detail
Basic Ice Morphology and Dynamics Types of sea, shelf and glacial ice; Growth and decay; Drift and concentration; Pressure fields; Surface features; Strength and hardness; Impact loading on structures and vessels; icebreaking; profiling and stability of icebergs; Features unique to specific ocean areas.
Basic Metocean Dynamics Regional temperature, wind and pressure patterns causing and describing weather; understanding local ocean circulation patterns and waves; their influence on ice movement, formation and decay.
Ice Charting WMO nomenclature; Types, characteristics and relative merits of satellites; Satellite imagery acquisition and interpretation; Supporting data sources (aircraft and ships).
Data Acquisition and Interpretation Satellites (types, location, companies); Satellite image acquisition, interpretation and analysis; Ice charts (WMO nomenclature); Shipboard visual observation; shipboard metocean data acquisition; Shipboard radar observation; Enhanced ice radars and integrated data display; Acquisition and interpretation of ice beacon data; seismic profiling of icebergs.
Forecasting Use of Canatec’s drift forecasting model to support regular operations, ice management activities and ice alerts.
Reporting Integration of data, transmission and written reporting; Presenting verbal daily reports to Ice Navigator, Offshore Installation Manager and Vessel Masters; use of the knowledge database.
Ice Navigation Route planning; Instrumentation; Vessel Ice Classification.
Ice Management Choosing floes for breaking; towing iceberg fragments; operations and metocean factors influencing decisions.
Safety and Emergency Procedures Emergency procedures as defined by the Ice Alert Protocol; Chains of responsibility; Data gathering and reporting; Routine HSE issues.
Workplace Environment Familiarization with working on board an offshore production platform; acculturation to working in an international project involving professionals from different countries, companies, cultures and languages.

Course Delivery

Normally classroom instruction for Ice Advisors is in Calgary, but if warranted, some key trainers can come to the client’s location. Optionally, part of the training might be done in specialized facilities such as the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen or the Marine Institute in Newfoundland. Classes are run for small groups, usually between a dozen people. This involves 10 days of classroom instruction for Ice Advisors, 5 for Ice Navigators and 7 for Ice Observers.

Site Visits

For thorough learning, it is best to add field visits to specialized ice facilities for hands-on training in ship operations, practice using simulators, visits to model tanks and ice charting centers.

Field Experience

After the classroom instruction, trainees get field experience to practice their skills on vessels operating in ice or on an offshore production facility. This mentored field experience is usually arranged in conjunction with the local offshore operator or government requesting the training. The trainee graduates after the field experience and can then start as a Junior Ice Advisor or Observer. Ice Navigators taking the course generally have sufficient prior seniority to take on full operational experience.

As a Junior Ice Advisor or Observer, the person works under the guidance of the Senior Ice Advisor. Scheduling will be set up so there is always 1 experienced, Senior Ice Advisor on board the platform or vessel at all times, if Canatec is contracted for ice surveillance and management services. After successfully carrying out enough rotations with enough diversity of operational experience, as a Junior Ice Advisor or Observer, the person will be promoted to senior position.

Other Related Training

Canatec can also arrange for other related specialized training that may be required by a client, such as HUET certification. This will be provided by third parties.

Course Instructors

Principal instructors are:

  • Chris Hill – geographer with 30 years experience in sea-ice observation and analysis; specialist in acquisition and analysis of satellite imagery.
  • Doug Hagen – meteorologist with 25 years experience with Canadian Ice Service; expert in satellite image analysis of ice; developer of satellite ice interpretation training modules used by Canadian & US Ice Service.
  • Dave McGonigal – ice and ocean engineer with 23 years of experience in ice-structure interaction, ice research and design studies, and ice management in offshore petroleum industry.
  • Dr. Roger Pilkington – physicist with 35 years experience in sea-ice detection, measurement, analysis and management, principally for petroleum industry; developer of ICE 06 ice statistics and ice drift forecasting software.
  • Dr. Alexander Brovin – geographer with 30 years experience in analysis of ice in Russian and North American Arctic, Sea of Okhotsk and Caspian Sea; former head of the Ice Navigation Research Lab of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.


About the Training Company

Canatec is a Calgary-based sea-ice consulting and operations management firm with 3 decades of experience in Arctic, subarctic and cold marine regions.

Keywords: Data Acquisition, Ice, satellite

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