Iceberg-spotting competition will land winner US$50,000

Ships can be sent to tow icebergs that are identified as a threat. (Courtesy C-Core)
People from all over the world have joined a competition to find a better way to identify icebergs floating off the eastern coast of Canada.

Currently, satellite images and radar show blobs on the ocean but they must be analysed to determine whether they are ships, marine mammals or icebergs. People are good at that, but machines are faster and the search is on for new and better computer technology.

About 1,500 teams so far are competing to find better technology and a chance to win the $50,000 US in prizes.

Response may be due to ‘cool factor’

People’s reaction to the contest has surprised Desmond Power, vice-president of the company that co-launched the competition, C-CORE.

“We figured initially that we might get a couple of hundred people interested and we really underestimated the curiosity or the cool factor associated with this project,” he told Radio Canada International in a phone interview.

“We live here in Newfoundland so we see icebergs all the time in the spring…so it’s kind of like old hat to us. But I guess it’s very cool to people who have not seen satellite images or not seen icebergs.”

There is great demand for information on icebergs for several reasons. They are a threat to ships. Oil rigs are designed to withstand iceberg hits, but they must be shut down if that seems imminent and that is costly. And tourists and the tourism industry want to be able to find icebergs for viewing purposes.

Tourists want to know where icebergs as do ship and oil rig owners.
(Courtesy C-Core)


Feature Interview

Desmond Power on the importance of spotting icebergs efficiently:

Those competing have a chance to look at satellite images of about 5,000 targets and find ways to distinguish what they are.

The contest closes on January 16, 2018. It was launched by C-CORE and the Norwegian energy company Statoil.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Test clean energy solutions in south before implementing them in Arctic communities: report, Radio Canada International

Finland: Renewables to provide bulk of Finland’s energy in 2018, Yle News

Greenland: Chasing electric blue icebergs in Greenland, blog by Mia Bennett

Norway: ‘We will come back’, Statoil says after disappointing results in Barents Sea, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: In the Barents and Kara seas for 40 days, learning to move icebergs, The Independent Barents Observer

Lynn Desjardins, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Lynn has dedicated her working life to journalism. After decades in the field, she still believes journalism to be a pillar of democracy and she remains committed to telling stories she believes are important or interesting. Lynn loves Canada and embraces all seasons: skiing, skating, and sledding in winter, hiking, swimming and playing tennis in summer and running all the time. She is a voracious consumer of Canadian literature, public radio programs and classical music. Family and friends are most important. Good and unusual foods are fun. She travels when possible and enjoys the wilderness.

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