Hello, everybody, I'm Samuel Farrell from the Ice Center. Professor Packard, your regular instructor, has kindly invited me here to tell you about the Ice Center as a part of his meteorology course.
First, let me begin by giving you a little background information about our agency. The Ice Center is part of Environment Canada, our national meteorological service. You may have seen our building, as we're located in downtown Ottawa on Sussex Drive, right across the street from the National Art Gallery. Now, a word about what we do. Our job is to forecast ice conditions, which we do by tracking the ice and then observing some of its characteristics. We plot its thickness and drift. Drift, of course, refers to how ice is being moved by current in the water and by the wind.
We take scientific data and share them with people who rely on our information in their jobs. We issue daily bulletins that help keep various types of ships running -- ferries, fishing boats, and tankers, for example. And when ships are stuck, we send our fleet of icebreakers to get the ships out and escort them to safety.
Oh, a minute ago I mentioned thickness... You see, it's not enough just to know where the ice is and how it's drifting. Ice varies tremendously in thickness, strength, and consistency, depending on its age. Old, thick ice, for example, is crusty and tough. It's virtually impossible to navigate through it. Over the years, we've learned how to input radar information into our computers and then generate topographical pictures of the surface of the ice. This gives us a general overview of where the thin ice is and where the thick ice is, as well as providing clues to the best routes for ships to take.