The SINECO network is an operational system for the observation and forecast of water levels that covers the whole St. Lawrence Seaway from Montréal to Sept-Îles. The network, operated by the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), Québec Region, is made up of 23 stations placed at strategic locations along the seaway where water levels are measured. All stations are also equipped with sensors for measuring water depth, atmospheric pressure, water temperature, and water salinity (salinity is only monitored at stations downstream of Île d’Orléans), the latter two are used to validate water level. The sensors are placed at depths varying between 3 and 10 metres depending on the station’s set-up and water level fluctuations.
The network of on-line buoys, jointly exploited by Institut Maurice-Lamontagne (IML-DFO) and ISMER (Institut des sciences de la mer, Université du Québec à Rimouski), currently consists of five buoys recording a suite of optical, oceanographic, and meteorological parameters. These buoys are equipped with communication systems, allowing the transfer and access to data in real time.
The collected information is used to validate and calibrate satellite images, which provide large-scale information on sea-surface temperature and phytoplankton biomass (chlorophylle a).
The network’s first buoy was moored in 2002 at the Rimouski Station. In 2004, a second buoy was moored at the Shediac Station in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, followed in 2005 by buoys at the Banc Beaugé as well as the Gaspé Current and Anticosti Gyre monitoring stations.
The thermograph network is made up of 25 stations where temperature has been recorded nearly continuously since 1993 at depths generally ranging from 1 to 30 metres, although some stations are recording at depths of 100 m or more (Ex: Havre-Saint-Pierre and Gyre d’Anticosti).
Other than keeping track of environmental conditions, the network is used for the calibration of remote-sensing images from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) meteorological satellites. The Institut Maurice-Lamontagne’s (IML) remote sensing laboratory relies on two receiving stations that acquire real-time satellite images. One of the stations is located at IML while the second is at Resolute Bay.
Environment Canada participates in the observation and collection of freshwater, marine and ocean. With the support of the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, it maintains a network of moored buoys in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, along the coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and also has a buoy program in the Great Lakes. The buoys collect and transmit hourly weather and sea state data 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Data is transmitted to the GOES satellite then relayed to earth stations where it is entered into the Global Telecommunications System (GTS). Archiving of data is done by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and by Environment Canada.
These data are used in the production of marine forecasts, as input into numerical weather prediction models for marine forecast guidance and to provide data in a data sparse area particularly valuable during the hurricane season. The buoys also provide data for climatological records which are used in many research projects and applications such as design wave climates for offshore construction.