Ice thickness data

The Canadian Ice Thickness Program has two data collections that users can access anytime online:

The “Original Ice Thickness Program Collection” contains ice thickness and snow depth measurements for 195 sites. Sites such as Eureka and Resolute have ice thickness records that go as far back as 1947. By the beginning of 2002, most stations from the Original Ice Thickness Program had stopped taking measurements, which is why the data ends there.

Due to an increasing interest in updating this historical dataset to support climate change studies, the “New Arctic Ice Thickness Program” was started in the fall of 2002. A limited number of Meteorological Service of Canada stations in the Canadian Arctic were re-opened and started taking measurements.

Ice Thickness Program: supporting information

This data collection contains ice thickness and snow depth measurements for sites going back as far as 1947 for the first established stations in the Canadian Arctic (Eureka and Resolute). Record length varies from station to station with some of the Arctic stations exceeding 50 years of observations, making this data potentially useful for climate change monitoring. In addition, a number of sites are co-located with Environment Canada’s hourly weather and radiation observing programs, which means that this data can be applied to a variety of research and modeling studies.

Most of the data in the current archive at Environment Canada’s Canadian Ice Service has been collected by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service, but some data is provided by other organizations such as the St-Lawrence Seaway Authority, Trent University, and Queen’s University.

Measurements are taken at approximately the same location every year on a weekly basis, starting after freeze-up when the ice is safe to walk on, and continuing until break-up or when the ice becomes unsafe. The location is selected close to shore, but over a depth of water which will exceed the maximum ice thickness.

Ice thickness is measured to the nearest centimetre using either a special auger kit or a hot wire ice thickness gauge. The depth of snow on the ice at the location of the ice thickness measurement is also measured and reported to the nearest centimetre. Measurements after 1982 include additional information such as the character of the ice surface, water features and method of observation.

Ice thickness and snow depth are reported for each observation. After 1982, the character of the ice surface, water features, and the method of observation may also be reported.

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