Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea seminar

As part of his role as an International Association of Geodesy (IAG) member of the Advisory Board on the Law of the Sea (ABLOS), Sunil helped organize and attend the Board’s annual meeting and seminar, this year held in Seoul, South Korea on October 26-28.  Amongst the Board’s tasks is to host regional seminars to discussion technical issues related to the United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea.  This year’s seminar was jointly hosted by ABLOS and the Korean hydrographic office (HYSK) entitled “Roles of the Law of the Sea and Hydrography in the Asian Region”.  Very interesting talks were given on topics including: maritime boundary delimitation between South Korea and China, as well as in the South China Sea, ambiguous naming conventions in southeast Asian waters, effects of new marine seismic surveys, electronic charts, and GNSS surveys in maritime jurisdictions, and the impact of sea level rise on maritime boundary delimitation.  The seminar was attended by almost 100 international participants.

By: Sunil Bisnath


Government of Canada GNSS workshop

Sunil was invited to speak and chair a panel discussion on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) innovation for the federal government.  The meeting, entitled “GNSS Vulnerabilities, Innovation, and Policy (VIP) Workshop” was organized by the GNSS Coordinate Office at Industry Canada and hosted by the Federal GNSS Coordination Board on October 21st.  Over 100 participants from foreign and Canadian government departments, academia and the private sector attended.  Topics ranged from GPS and Galileo program updates, to GPS jamming and cyberthreats, to GNSS use in critical infrastructure such as the energy, utilities and telecom sectors, to GNSS precision positioning developments, and automotive, aviation, timing, and geoscience applications.  The federal government aims to make use of such workshops to develop a national GNSS strategy.

By: Sunil Bisnath


The Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors (CBEPS) Visited the Geomatics Engineering Program at ESSE on November 18th-19th 2016

Our Geomatics Engineering Program is being assessed towards accreditation by The Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors (CBEPS). CBEPS establishes, assesses and certifies the academic qualifications of individuals who apply to become land surveyors and/or geomatics professionals in Canada, except for Ontario and Quebec. This includes becoming of Canada Land Surveyor conducting surveying in the three Canadian territories, in the Federal parks, on Aboriginal reserves, on and under the surface of Canada’s oceans. This provides further career options to our graduates besides being eligible to become licensed Professional Engineers and licensed Ontario Land Surveyors

The evaluation process started in the Summer 2016, by collecting information and submitting a questionnaire report to CBEPS addressing six main subjects: 1) Support for Students, 2) Curriculum, 3) Faculty, 4) Facilities, 5) Graduating Students, and 6) Sustainability. The information for each of subject was gathered and assembled by Professors Costas Armenakis and Mojgan Jadidi. The endless support from the Chair of Department Regina Lee, Graduate Program Director Sunil Bisnath, Associate Dean Spiros Pagiatakis, Dean Janusz Kozinski, Vice Dean Rob Allison, Accreditation Strategist Salvatore Paneduro, Accreditation work study student Sandra Sinayuk and Elise Shaw, our Administrative Assistant, was remarkable. All documents were submitted on October 7th, 2016.

ESSE hosted the on-site visit of CBEPS visiting team on November 18-19, 2016. During the on-site visit, CBEPS members met all course directors and Geomatics Engineering students. Also, they visited the computer and equipment lab facilities, lectures halls including PSE 133, the libraries, the Bergeron building and the students’ lounge.

We expect to hear back from CBEPS in the next couple of months. The CBEPS visiting team acknowledged the ESSE hospitality and the well-organized documentation of CBEPS requirements and course binders. Last not least, this visit could not be successful without the support of all Faculty members of the Geomatics Engineering program for providing their course material and meeting with the CBEPS visitors and our administrative and technical staff.

By: Costas Armenakis and Mojgan Jadidi

Dr. William Colgan on the Cover of YorkU Magazine


The cover of the Fall 2016 issue of the YorkU magazine.

Professor William Colgan is featured on the fall issue of York University Magazine.

The article describes his 36-day study of Greenland’s ice sheets and the effects of rising temperatures. The investigation resulted in some surprising discoveries, contrary to research done in 2012.

Professor Colgan is a member of NASA’s FirnCover research team, working with them to match his own samples to satellite data.

Interestingly, professor Colgan has recently put his name on the Canadian Space Agency’s application list for training for future NASA missions.

He doesn’t believe his chances in getting to the next round of astronaut selection are big, but he would consider the opportunity to be an interesting side project.



An Interview: Prof. William Colgan

What is your educational background?

I did my undergrad at Queens University in Biology and Geography. Then I moved on to University of Alberta for my Masters degree in Atmospheric Science. This is where I got hooked on the ice cores! Finally, I completed my Ph. D. at University of Colorado on the topic “The Influence of the Melt Water in the Greenland Ice Sheet”.

CSA recently issued a call for applicants for the next round of astronauts to train for future NASA missions, and you were among them. Why?

To further increase my career enjoyment—it seemed  like the only thing to be more fun than a 30 day expedition on Greenland ice sheets is going to space! I have not made top 160 candidates, but it’s expected not to get selected; just applying for something like this is a fun daydream for most people.

What did you like the most about your recent expedition to Greenland? The least?

The most: the scenery! It felt like living in an IMAX movie for a month: big wide open spaces, which are so different form the city, flying around in little planes…

The least: living in a clod tent. Since undergrad, I have spent 347 days in the cold tent North or South of Arctic or Antarctic circles respectively.

Are you planning on any expeditions any time soon?

Yes, I am going to Greenland again next spring.

I am actually leaving Lassonde soon—I’m going on to geological survey of Denmark and Greenland (this time I’m going to live in a coastal village rather than a cold tent!). However, I am hoping to hold an adjunct position at York in the new year and to keep in touch with everyone. I am from Toronto myself, so I will be coming back fairly often. This is definitely not a good bye!

Favorite building at York?

York Lanes. I like being around people, and it is the busiest place on campus, which feels the most alive. It is also the most useful functionally.

Prof. Colgan was recently featured in the YorkU Magazine. (

Prof. Colgan was recently featured in the YorkU Magazine.

What’s your pet peeve?

Paper work: completing layers and layers of forms makes me sad!

Favorite quote?

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda

Favorite color?


Favorite food?  

Nepalese food.

Favorite movie?

“Archer” on Netflix; it is an adult cartoon about the undercover spy. Becoming Sterling Archer of Glaciology is my noble career goal.

What do you do in your free time?

I do some photography. I also like reading, mostly newspapers lately.

If you could be any age, which age would you choose?

Twenty seven, because it is a trinomial—3x3x3 years old! It was also a nice time after university education and before the real world hit and serious responsibilities started.

Interesting fact about yourself?

I have travelled a lot: I’ve been to 22 countries, and lived abroad Canada for 8 years. This gives you quite a different outlook on Canadian society.

Summer/Winter, Apple/PC, Coffee/Tea, Start Wars/ Star Trek, Ketchup/Mustard

We are wishing Prof. Colgan good luck in his future endeavors!




Julien Li-Chee-Ming Awards the 2nd Place in Student Papers Competition

Unmanned Systems Canada awards were presented at the 14th annual Unmanned Systems Conference held in Edmonton AB on November 1st-3rd, 2016. York University graduate student Julien Li-Chee-Ming has received the well-deserved 2nd place in the Student Papers Competition. Couple years ago, Julien has received the 1st place award in the same competition.

Student Papers Competition is open to all Canadian full time undergraduate and graduate students. The paper has to demonstrate research into any aspect related to Unmanned Vehicle systems. Here is the summary of Julien’s award-winning paper:

The GeoICT Lab at York University is developing a mapping and tracking system based on the Arducopter UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) that can accurately navigate waypoints in indoor and GPS-denied outdoor environments. A method is proposed to estimate the UAV’s pose (i.e., the 3D position and orientation of the camera sensor) in real-time using only the on-board RGB camera as the UAV travels through a known 3D environment (i.e., a 3D CAD model is available).  Linear features are automatically matched between images collected by the UAV’s onboard RGB camera and the 3D model of the environment.  The matched lines from the 3D model serve as ground control to estimate the camera pose in real-time via line-based space resection.  The results demonstrate a significant improvement from the state-of-art alternative in 3D model-based pose estimation.

Congratulations to Julien! (on the right) (

Congratulations to Julien! (on the right)

UAV Campaign

Highlights from the UAV Campaign by Dr. Regina Lee’s research team:

Video by: Thong Thai

Music: DEAF KEV Invincible

Editor: Loan and Tetiana Sitiugina

ESSE Technician Jennifer Gao: An Interview

Full name: Yuan Gao, but you can call me Jennifer, because it is easier to pronounce.

What is your educational background? I have a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering back in China.

What is your favorite part of ESSE labs? I have a lot of favorite parts, as I enjoy my job a lot. I like talking to professors and always learning something new. Also, I like seeing students everyday, as they approach graduation. It makes me feel younger and brings me back years and years ago, to the times when I was a university student myself.

What is your most memorable project? I always find it exciting to make things work. My most memorable project was back in China, something that nobody has done before in the country. It was a complicated RF reader system used at an airplane to guide it.

Favorite building at York? I’ve only been to Petrie and Bergeron, but Bergeron is my favorite!

What’s your pet peeve? I don’t like wasting time listening to something I am not interested in—for example, at meetings.

Favorite quote? If you want to reach your goal, you have to move, no matter in which direction, and not just think about it.

Favorite color? Red.

Favorite food?  Fries and sea food.

Favorite movie? “Gone with the Wind” and “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn.

What do you do in your free time? I like reading a lot. If the weather is nice, I go outside to the park… With the book!

If you could be any age, which age would you choose? I don’t care about the age, as long as I’m healthy and can take care of myself.


Summer/Winter, Apple/PC, Coffee/Tea, Heels/Flats, Ketchup/Mustard/Relish.


Modelling Marine Boundary-Layer Fog Development over Changes in Surface Conditions

Peter Taylor’s research group have a new 6-month NSERC-ENGAGE grant (Started Oct. 1, 2016) with AMEC Foster Wheeler to study fog over the Grand Banks. Dr. Wensong Weng and Adjunct Professor George Isaac will be involved. The proposal summary is:

“Marine fog over the Grand Banks offshore from Newfoundland and in other marine areas is a significant problem for many activities, but especially for helicopter landings on oil rigs. The fog may extend upwards from the sea surface to heights of the order  of 100m to 300m, and it is important to understand the processes and conditions that determine the evolution, opacity, and depth of the fog layer. In many instances, fog formation is associated with winds blowing air over changes in surface temperature.

These advective fogs have some similarities with the radiation fogs that are common over land, but have added complications associated with internal boundary layer development. There has been considerable activity in the development of 1-D (horizontally homogeneous) time-dependent fog models, including detailed treatment of micro-physical and radiative processes and turbulent transports. There has been rather less activity related to advection fogs, but papers by Nakanishi and Niino (2006) and by Barker (1976) provide a good starting point for us.

Dr. Taylor’s group at York University has undertaken extensive research on atmospheric boundary-layer models, including studies of flow over changes in surface roughness, temperature and humidity, taking account of the impacts of stratification on turbulence via Monin-Obukhov similarity theory. They have also modeled blowing dust and blowing snow with multiple size bins, sublimation and settling, plus visibility issues, which will provide the basis for the development of a superior boundary-layer fog model. The initial research plan will be to adapt our models of turbulent atmospheric (planetary) boundary-layer over changes in surface conditions to deal with situations where spatial variations in water surface temperature lead to situations where water vapor can condense and form fog. Details of the evolution of the fog droplet size distribution and radiative and visibility impacts will be added, and variations with wind speed and the horizontal rates of change will be investigated. On a longer term basis, we will seek ways to combine these findings with weather forecast models in order to improve practical forecasting of fog occurrence, depth and intensity.”

by Dr. Peter Taylor

2016 KASA Balloon Campaign in Kiruna, Sweden


In the first week of September 2016, three Canadian payloads flew on a stratospheric balloon that performed a 10-hour mission at an altitude of 34 km in Kiruna, Sweden. The primary payload, 2-D Imaging Fabry-Pérot Spectrometer, is jointly developed by York University and MPB Communications Inc., the Fabry-Pérot spectrometer can obtain very high spectral resolution measurements. It views sunlight that is absorbed and scattered by the atmosphere and reflected by the Earth’s surface. This provides information on aerosols, surface pressure and surface albedo. Dr. Jinjun Shan, Professor of Space Engineering in ESSE is the principal investigator (PI) of this project funded by the Canadian Space Agency, under its Flights for the Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST) program in 2014. Dr. Gordon Shepherd and Dr. Chris Sioris from ESSE are the Co-Is of this project. A group of science and engineering researchers have contributed to the development of this instrument.

The stratospheric balloon took off few minutes before 7am local time (1 am EDT) on Saturday September 3 at Esrange Space Center, near Kiruna, Sweden. It landed around 2:15pm in Northern Finland, and the instrument was successfully recovered before 8pm. Observation data analysis is still on going, but the flight mission has been very successful. During the 8-hour flight, key technologies of Fabry-Pérot spectrometer have been demonstrated and validated. Those technologies could readily be implemented on a future satellite mission.

by Dr. Jinjun Shan                                                                                                                               Images provided by Dr. Jinjun Shan


Photo of York/CSA team with FPS instrument. From left to right: Prof. Jinjun Shan (York), Mr. Steeve Montminy (CSA), Dr. Ryan Orszulik (University of Magdeburg, Germany), Dr. Chris Sioris (York), Mohammed Kagalwala (York), Mike Voutsogiannakis (York), Dr. Yuan Ren (York), and Philippe Vincent (CSA).