Circumpolar Safety, Search and Rescue Collaboration

Search and rescue (S&R) in cold waters is a short race against time. Low temperatures, poor visibility and bad weather, as well as vast distances, conspire to make S&R operations challenging. Although ice floes can keep people afloat for longer periods, and modern communication systems means there is less search and more rescue, even with the best survival gear the odds are decidedly poorer than in warmer waters.

With the advent of dramatically reduced summer ice coverage, human activity in the Arctic Ocean ranging from petroleum exploration and drilling to shipping and cruise traffic is set to increase significantly. Mass rescue operations (MROs) must be handled differently in the Arctic, and to understand how the risk of a large accident in this sparsely populated area should be assessed we must draw on our understanding of the weather conditions, the changing climate, and the limited resources available in this region.

This session will focus on the following topics:

  • Risk Assessment of Arctic Operations. The risk associated with human activity in the Arctic differs from that found in other marine regions due to the paucity of resources, the adversity of the environmental conditions and lack of crew experience from sailing in Arctic waters. How should risk, both dynamic and static, be assessed for Arctic operations?
  • Pan-Arctic S&R Collaboration. Arctic S&R is essentially international. How the S&R services around the Arctic Ocean organize their resources matters to our preparedness. Which scenarios face the S&R services as the ice cover retreats and human activities are ramped up?
  • Forecasting for Arctic S&R. Weather matters before and after an accident. Forecasts are more uncertain in the Arctic due to a lack of observations and the presence of small polar lows further decreases the predictability of Arctic weather. Here we will explore how weather, waves and currents affect the fate of a drifting object, and how ensemble forecasts can lead to more efficient S&R operations.
  • Satellite Monitoring and S&R. A range of new satellite services are coming online. How can remote sensing be used to monitor the environmental conditions essential to S&R operations, and how can modern satellite communications reduce response times for operators in the Arctic?
  • Cold Water Effects on Humans. Hypothermia is the major concern with accidents in polar waters and essentially determines the time span of the rescue operation. How does the human body react to immersion in cold water and how efficiently can equipment or a choice of action help reduce heat loss?

We welcome abstracts from studies that look at one or more of the topics above.

Scientific committee members:

  • Øyvind Breivik, Norwegian Meteorological Institute and University of Bergen, Norway (lead)
  • Arthur A Allen, United States Coast Guard
  • Tor Einar Berg, SINTEF, Norway
  • Kjetil Bilic Michaelsen, Norwegian Space Centre
  • Penelope Wagner, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norwegian Ice Service

Katrin Bluhm
(47) 468 537 49

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