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Federal Programs

The Canadian Geodetic Survey (CGS) has the technical expertise to conduct high-precision GNSS and micro-gravity surveys and the scientific know-how to recover the most accurate positions (mm) and gravity estimates (microgal) required for many geoscience applications.  This unique and specialized expertise provides the opportunity for collaboration in a variety of applications, many of them addressing the challenges of mitigating the impacts of geohazards and monitoring climate change.  


GNSS measurements of crustal motion constitute a primary source of information for the assessment of geohazards.  CGS is currently active in earthquake hazards research through provision of CACS data from national and regional networks of continuously operating GPS/GNSS tracking stations.  Periodic observations of denser monumented GNSS networks in targeted regions with increased seismicity are also contributing to the measured tectonic strain in central Canada. CGS continues to engage with NRCan colleagues and other departments who require accurate monitoring of crustal deformation at various spatial scales.

Climate Change/Sea Level Variation

CGS also contributes to climate change studies by evaluating and integrating observations from multiple geodetic systems and instruments such as GNSS receivers, absolute gravimeters, satellite gravity missions (e.g. GRACE), airborne InSAR and LIDAR.  These efforts improve the modelling and understanding of tectonic, hydrological and atmospheric processes that enhance the ability of our scientific community to assess and propose solutions to mitigate climate change, particularly in coastal regions and in major watershed areas, such as the Great Lakes.  Other contributions include support to glaciologists; the study of post-glacial rebound and its impact on surface and groundwater storage variation; the monitoring of regional scale mass redistribution through satellite gravimetry; the maintenance of an accurate sea level reference for the management of inland water resources and coastal erosion; and the capability to conduct absolute gravity surveys to calibrate geophysical models

Geodesy for Geoscience

Geoscience is an all-embracing term for the sciences related to the planet Earth. It generally includes the study of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, oceans and biosphere, as well as the solid earth. Earth scientists have generally relied on geodetic reference frames to underpin the geospatial information they collect. With recent technological advances and the relative ease of use of modern sensors such as GPS/GNSS, scientists now use geodetic techniques and tools to extract geophysical, atmospheric and other signals of interest to build an understanding of how the Earth system works and how it evolved to its current state.

Our national and global geodetic reference frames as well as the measure of their temporal variability at various spatial scales now play a significant role supporting the most demanding geoscience applications. Given the relative ease of use of GPS/GNSS technologies, geoscientists have readily adopted them while increasingly relying on geodetic products that provide them with the accuracy they required. Access to the accurate and stable global geodetic reference frames through GPS/GNSS precise orbits provided by the Canadian Geodetic Survey (CGS) on a continuous basis has become key to high-resolution modeling of Earth and atmospheric processes that may vary over time intervals of seconds to decades. The specialized expertise of CGS staff to inform scientists who wish to extract the highest accuracy from their surveys and maintain positional time series over long time frames has also become critical to the understanding and interpretation of the processes being investigated.

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