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- Polar View's Ice Charts help
Antarctic Expeditions reach their destinations
During the past week the Norwegian Antarctic Research Expedition (NARE) has been able to receive supplies for the coming year and the Belgian Antarctic Research Expedition (BELARE) reached their offloading point thanks in part to Polar View's Antarctic ice chart service. The Ivan Papanin, a Russian ice-class cargo ship that is part of the DROMSHIP (Dronning Maud Land Ship) network safely dropped off the Norwegian team and their supplies at 5° east longitude on the Antarctic coast on December 11th, and a few days later on December 14th got the Belgian expedition to its destination at Crown Bay.
Along with crew members and equipment for the two countries' expeditions, the Ivan Papanin also carried Belgium's new "zero emission" Antarctic research station from Belgium to the frozen continent. Financed, designed and built by the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation (IPF) along with the help of its sponsors and technical partners, the Princess Elisabeth Station will be the first ever research station in the Antarctic designed to run entirely on renewable wind and solar energy.
Since there has been much more ice surrounding the Antarctic continent than expected, Polar View's ice charts were particularly useful to the Ivan Papanin during its journey. Soon after arriving in the ice-covered waters of the Southern Ocean, the ship found itself trapped in the ice for a couple of days. However thanks to the eventual break-up of the ice and Polar View's ice charts, the ship was eventually able to make its way to the coast.
Captain Philippe Herman, who is the Belgian military coordinator for the BELARE expedition, has been very appreciative to have Polar View's ice charts.
"The system is very efficient and really helps us to navigate through the ice fields," Captain Herman said during the ship's passage through the ice. "It's a must to have this kind of service down here."
The Norwegian team is supported by the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is also the Polar View partner responsible for providing the satellite imagery that the Ivan Papanin has been using. Since being dropped off, the expedition team has started work on bringing the supplies from the ice shelf edge to the Norwegian Troll Station nearby. The supplies will help support the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica, which is examining changes in the Dronning Maud Land ice sheet in order to better understand Antarctica's role in global climate and in particular the effects of changes in the Antarctic ice sheet on global sea level. The team is also bringing parts to the KSAT satellite receiving station at Troll.
The Belgian expedition arrived at its destination at Breid Bay on 14 December, where it now must offload its precious cargo. The Princess Elisabeth Station had been pre-built in Belgium in August and then following a public exposition dismantled and packed into 120 containers for transport to Antarctica aboard the Ivan Papanin. After the offloading has been completed, the Belgian team will transport the station 190 km inland to Utsteinen in the Dronning Maud Land, where an expert construction team will assemble the new environmentally friendly station between January and March 2008.
[To access the latest images available from Polar View's Sea Ice monitoring services in the Antarctic, please visit our Latest Images for the Antarctic link]
Polar View's iceberg monitoring website www.icebergfinder.com wins top honours in the Industry Category - Best Tourism Innovation at the 1st Annual Canadian e-tourism awards. The website was honoured for its sophisticated use of technology, its WOW factor, and its relevance to consumer tourism interests during awards ceremonies held at the OMNIMAX Theatre at Science World, Vancouver, British Columbia on November 7th and 8th.
[To view more detailed information about these awards, please visit www.canadianetourismawards.com or visit www.icebergfinder.com to learn more about tracking the majestic icebergs that travel the coastal areas of Newfound and Labourador]
The economy of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is heavily dependent on tourism. In fact tourism activity of non-resident and resident expenditures exceeds 800 million Canadian dollars and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue at all levels of government.
While there are numerous tourist attractions in the province, Newfoundland and Labrador is well know n as one of the best places to see icebergs. Every year between May and September, between 400 and 800 icebergs of various shapes and sizes travel along the coast, attracting tourists from near and far interested in having a look at this unique and beautiful natural phenomenon.
About 90% of the icebergs that float past Newfoundland and Labrador break off from the glaciers of western Greenland during the annual spring thaw in the Arctic. While the exact number can vary from year to year, approximately 40,000 medium to large sized icebergs break off from Greenland's west coast and travel to the open waters of the Labrador Sea and the North Atlantic via the cold Labrador Current flowing south. However only about 1-2% of these icebergs make it to the coasts of the Canadian province. Even so, more than enough icebergs drift by to give this part of the world the nickname "Iceberg Alley."
It is in this rugged yet majestic part of the world that Polar View's services make a significant contribution to the local tourism industry. In cooperation with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation for Newfoundland and Labrador, and with the help of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Polar View partner organisation C-CORE provides satellite data taken from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites (specifically RADARSAT-1 and ENVISAT) to make iceberg maps that appear on a website called icebergfinder.com.
The website, which recently won a platinum award at the First Annual Canadian e-Tourism Awards, is very practical and easy-to-use. The entire coast of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is shown on the site, and it is updated between two and five times a week. Icebergs are represented by triangular shapes (the symbol used internationally in representing icebergs on ice charts), and the areas in which icebergs have been spotted are highlighted. It's even possible to zoom in on a specific area to get a closer view.
Tourists can use the website to plan their trips based on the latest iceberg sightings, whether planning scenic drives along the coast of the province, or determining where to go to take a scenic boat tour from one of the many tour providers along the coast of the province. With links to find accommodations and other tourist attractions in the province, icebergfinder.com is a convenient website for everything an iceberg tourist might need. The numerous positive comments tourists have left on the website attest to this fact.
While the website service relies principally on the use of satellite data provided by Polar View member C-CORE, it also makes use of the services of reliable locals who work in the tourism and hospitality industry. Known as Ambassadors, these iceberg spotters hail from all along the coast of the province, and have volunteered to plot icebergs on the website's map, usually authenticating sightings of icebergs, confirming their locations, and noting specific occurrences such as calving or cracking of icebergs. They often submit pictures of icebergs they take for the website. The assistance Ambassadors offer makes it possible for icebergfinder.com to combine both spatial and ground observations to provide a highly accurate service.
While they regularly contribute to the site, Ambassadors can obtain a lot of useful information from the site as well. Captain Perry Young, who operates Twillingate Adventure Tours in Twillingate on the Island of Newfoundland, regularly consults the satellite images posted on the website to see from which direction the icebergs are coming and how many there are. This helps him determine where they will be in a few days, which is a very useful asset for his tour business as well as his job as an icebergfinder.com Ambassador.
The service also helps Captain Young to attract customers. "A lot of the people who came in this year and toured with me used icebergfinder.com to plan their trip," says Captain Young. "I've had people come up to me and ask me to take them out to see icebergs they saw on the website."
Paul Alcock, another Ambassador and ship captain operating Discover Northland Tours in St. Anthony at the northern tip of the Island of Newfoundland, concurs. "This past season a lot of people were saying, 'I saw an iceberg in the area on icebergfinder.com and this is why I'm here.'"
Captain Alcock admits it is difficult to quantify exactly how much the service has helped his business since it was introduced in 2006. However he recognises the service's contribution to tour operators like himself and to the local tourism industry in general. "The service helps attract tourists to the province."
The only critique Captain Alcock could offer is that he would like to see the satellites used in the service take images of the province more frequently. "Every now and again you can find icebergs that travel as fast as three or four miles an hour" he pointed out. At the moment, the most quickly new satellite data can be collected is two or three times a week.
However earth observation specialist Kelley Dodge of C-CORE, who is one of the principal persons responsible for the conception and development of the icebergfinder.com project, remarked that the accuracy of the service will improve when the Canadian Space agency launches the Radarsat-2 satellite, scheduled to take place in December 2007. By summer 2008 Radarsat-2 is supposed to be fully operational and will allow for a more frequent satellite revisit rate to the province. This means more regularly updated and accurate iceberg maps that better meet the needs of icebergfinder.com's end users. Ms. Dodge also mentioned that the addition of three radar-based Sentinel Satellites the European Space Agency plans to launch between 2010 and 2012 will further augment the service's accuracy.
[To view Polar View iceberg monitoring information referenced in the above news article, please visit our Iceberg Monitoring Service Page]
Polar View has just signed new service level agreements with the IPY-endorsed EALÁT project (IPY project number 399). The EALÁT project was initiated by the Association of World Reindeer Herders, a circumpolar organisation for the over 20 indigenous peoples involved in reindeer herding. The research project is coordinated by the Sámi University College, while outreach and information is handled by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, both of which are located in Kautokeino, Norway, in the heart of the Sámi reindeer husbandry territory. EALÁT is a four-year project focusing on the capacity of reindeer pastoralism to adapt to climate variability and change, in particular through the integration of reindeer herders' traditional knowledge in the study and analysis of their ability to adapt to such variability and change.
Numerous indigenous Arctic peoples from Northern Scandinavia, Russia and North America have practiced reindeer husbandry as a way of life for centuries. Reindeer meat is a principle source of sustenance for reindeer herders in this part of the world, and its production in many areas has become a principal economic activity for many indigenous peoples. In Siberia and eastwards to the Bering Strait, there is a strong prevalence of subsistence economies in which herders lead a year-round nomadic existence.
Following the traditions of their ancestors, reindeer herders migrate their herds seasonally in order to find the best food sources for the reindeer during a particular season. For example in winter, the Sámi reindeer herders in northern Scandinavia move their herds to the interior snow-covered regions of the land. In Yamalia, Russia, Nenet herders can migrate hundreds of kilometres per year between their summer and winter pastures.
In the overwintering pastures, reindeer usually sustain themselves by digging beneath the snow to find lichens to eat. In spring, when the snow starts to melt, the herders move their reindeer towards the coastal areas, which usually loses snow cover more quickly and makes for good summer pastures. In these coastal regions, the reindeer can feast freely on the grasses, the bushes and the mushrooms of the Arctic tundra.
With the snow melt coming earlier and earlier each year, the normal seasonal cycles upon which the herders base their migration patterns are changing. This could make the snow maps Polar View's partner organisations produce in Norway at Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) and in Finland at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) very useful tools for better understanding how the annual snowmelt is changing with climate change, which is one of the principal objectives of the EALÁT project. Polar View's services cover northern Scandinavia and northwest Russia, including the county of Finnmark in Norway and the region of Yamalia in Russia, which are two regions being studied under the EALÁT project.
Philip Burgess of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, who is tasked with outreaching EALÁT through the web based Reindeer Portal sees a lot of potential in working with Polar View. "Snow monitoring has never been done before with reindeer husbandry in mind," commented Dr. Burgess. "There are a lot of potential areas of cooperation to be explored."
The Centre has coordinated several workshops in the Norwegian country of Finnmark and northwest Russia aimed at informing reindeer herders about the changing nature of the Arctic environment and documenting the tools that exist within reindeer husbandry in the form of traditional knowledge that will provide herding societies adaptive strategies for dealing with climate change. Snow maps will be used for outreach purposes according to Burgess, who stated that the maps would be "very useful for generating discussion about snow cover" during the workshops and presentations made by the Centre. The EALÁT project will also make presentations through the Association of World Reindeer Herders to the Arctic Council, and Polar View's snow maps of Northern Scandinavia and the Yamal Peninsula will, according to Burgess, make a "very useful contribution" to these presentations.
Direct benefits for reindeer herders
One of the objectives Polar View hopes to accomplish in signing the service level agreement with the EALÁT project is to attract the attention of the reindeer herders to the benefits that Polar View's services can provide for them. The snow maps that Polar View currently produces for the regions where reindeer husbandry is practiced can be highly practical tools for reindeer herders. Using data from satellite optical and radar images, KSAT and FMI can create maps that indicate where snow cover is and whether this snow cover is wet or dry. Thanks to Polar View's current funding under the ESA's GMES programme, EALÁT will be able to receive the snow data from Polar View at no cost.
At the moment Polar View only has the infrastructure in place to monitor snow cover during the melting season in the region, which usually lasts from February until July. However the snow maps Polar View provides during this time would already be a great help to reindeer herders, since it would allow the herders ready to make the spring migration to the coast to see the areas in which snow cover has already disappeared. The fact that the spring melt appears to be even less predictable due to climate change would make them all the more useful to the herders.
Yet a service that would be able to monitor snow throughout the entire winter would be of even greater benefit to the herders, since the service could one day be useful in helping reindeer herders find suitable over-wintering pastures. The most ideal pastures have terrain covered in dry, powder-like snow, which allows reindeer to have access to the lichens and other food underneath.
Meteorological conditions can sometimes create a thick and impenetrable sheet of ice, however. This is one of the most troublesome situations that a reindeer herder can face, since the ice often traps the lichens, making them inaccessible to the reindeer. No access to their main sources of food during the winter can mean starvation and even death for the reindeer, and big losses for herders.
However Polar View has been discussing with EALAT about the possibility to expanding its services to include taking images during the winter months. Dr. Eirik Malnes of Norut Tromsø, who designed the algorithms that the KSAT uses to make their snow maps from the satellite data they collect, believes the agreement with the EALÁT project is an opportunity for Polar View to meet the challenge of improving their services to meet the needs of new clients. "We have been talking about the possibility of expanding Polar View's services to include more of the winter months," said Dr. Malnes.
Yet in order to make such a project feasible, additional sources of funding than what is currently available as well as new algorithms for interpreting the satellite data would be required. "The satellites are there all the time," Dr. Malnes stated. "It's just that it costs money to process the data. In order to make this kind of service feasible we would need to find additional sources of funding."
[To view Polar View snow monitoring maps and information referenced in the above news article, please visit our Snow Monitoring Service Page]
With this report, we present a comprehensive overview of Polar View and its success to date. We include information on our team structure, users, and geographical coverage. Each of our diverse services has a unique story to tell - assisting users to plan activities and make better decisions, thereby making a difference for environmental monitoring, balanced sustainable economic development, and improved marine safety. We also provide a view of our future and the challenges to be faced in continuing to provide services to polar stakeholders.
[To download a copy of the report, please visit our Publications Section]
For an increasing number of tourists, the Polar Regions are becoming a destination of choice. Hoping to experience the unique scenery, flora and fauna that can only be found in the high latitudes of the planet, the number of outside visitors to polar destinations has gone up significantly. According to Tourism in the Polar Regions - The Sustainability Challenge, a report released by the UNEP in June 2007, the number of tourists choosing to spend their holidays in a polar setting has increased by 50% since 1990, growing from 1 million to 1.5 million tourists annually.
Polar ship tours, which can include anything from a day trip around a scenic area to cruises lasting more than a week and crossing hundreds of kilometres, are an important part of the polar tourism industry, and the popularity of the tours has been increasing in recent years. According to the same UNEP report, ship tourism in the Polar Regions has more than quadrupled since the early 1990s.
In order to safely navigate through polar waters, the captains and navigators of ships require up-to-date information on the extent and thickness of sea ice, as well as the location of glaciers and the edges of ice floes. This kind of information can be easily read from ice charts, which are made by compiling satellite data and imagery.
Polar View, a consortium of experts from universities and private companies throughout Europe and Canada that collect data and images from earth observation satellites, uses the data and images they collect to create ice charts that a large number of people, especially those working in the polar tourism industry, have come to depend on in the Polar Regions.
While the ice charts made possible by Polar View's services are most commonly used to find safe navigation routes, they can also be used to determine the location of ice-dwelling animals such as polar bears, seals and walruses that many tourists would expect to see on a ship tour in the Polar Regions.
Lars Henricksen, who works as a polar bear guide in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, has come to depend on Polar View's services to do his job. As a highly experienced outdoorsman, Henricksen is also an expert in animal behaviour. His familiarity with the habits of Arctic fauna makes him particularly useful to polar cruise operators, who hire him to help them find the most interesting and scenic routes. The chance to see ice-dwelling marine mammals is one of the main attractions of polar cruises in Svalbard, so having the expert advice of someone such as Henricksen in planning their itineraries can be a big help to the operators of ship tours. Being able to see a great deal of Artic fauna can make a cruise much more memorable for polar tourists, which translates into satisfied customers and a good reputation that can boost business.
Like all experts, Mr. Henricksen needs tools to do his job. Every time he has access to the Internet, he visits the website of the Norwegian Meteorological Service, a partner organisation within Polar View, in order to have a look at the regularly updated ice charts posted on the site. By studying the ice charts, Henricksen can predict with 80% accuracy where and when to find polar bears, seals and walruses based on the position and extent of the sea ice in relationship to the location of the typical food sources for the animals.
"The ice charts are very precise and reliable," Hendricksen said. "When planning the cruises, the ice charts are a must. Trying to understand wildlife in the Arctic would be impossible without them."
The current level of precision and reliability of the ice charts is a feature that Henricksen finds particularly useful in doing his job. While ice charts for Svalbard have been around for quite some time, the introduction of Polar View's services has allowed the Norwegian Meteorological Service to create higher-quality ice charts. "They're a lot better today than they were some years ago," Henricksen commented.
While Polar View has received steady funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) under the GMES programme over the past several years, continued funding of the service may not necessarily be a given. The same level of quality that end users currently enjoy from the service might not be sustainable without external funding, either from public or private sources.
A drop in the level of service would have an impact on people in the polar tourism industry who rely on them on a daily basis such as the operators of polar ship tours and the outside experts they consult like Lars Henricksen. Without the ice charts, Henricksen and the ship tour operators who employ him would be able to make do, however planning the itineraries would become "an educated guess" based primarily on experience, according to Henricksen.
[To view Polar View high resolution ice charts referenced in the above news article, please click here]
British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have recently detected a huge iceberg, which has broken off from Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. The iceberg, which is 34 km long by 20 km wide, covers an area nearly half the size of Greater London. The iceberg was detected on 7 October as a scientist was studying satellite images collected from the European Space Agencys satellite Envisat using the Polar View monitoring programme.
[To view related news article on British
Antarctic Association (BAS) website entitled Giant iceberg breaks off
from Antarctic glacier, please click
The Polar View services in the Antarctic deliver near-real time information on sea ice conditions for the entire Southern Ocean and are currently free to users. Timely information access supports the safe and efficient navigation of vessels operating in the Antarctic.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has recently begun using Polar View services to significantly enhance their capabilities in sea ice navigation. After numerous trials, the Sea and Air Operations of ADD notes the service was a great success and by using Polar View products, the risk of navigation through constantly shifting ice pack was reduced and ships were able to travel more efficiently. Plans are in place to continue use of Polar View products and services as part of standard shipping operations.
[To view related news article in the Australian Antarctic Magazine Issue 12, 2007 entitled "Viewing the poles with Polar View", please click here]
Polar View, in collaboration with the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) and JCOMM-ETSI, has developed and launched the International Polar Year (IPY) Ice Logistic Portal. Its aim is to create a convenient point of access to obtain operational sea ice information produced by the world's ice services. Access to products is provided via a series of pre-defined regions for both the Arctic and the Antarctic.
[To access the IPY Ice Logistics Portal, please visit: www.ipy-ice-portal.org]
Lief Toudal, member of the Polar View team from Denmark (working for the Danish National Space Centre) recently provided key answers to puzzling questions about the rapid dislocation of the sea ice in the Lincoln Sea, located near the mouth of the Robeson Channel . In early May, the Arctic Arc Expedition (2,000 trek across the Arctic Ocean) was required to change direction on approaching the Greenland coast due to the rapid dislocation of the sea ice. They needed answers quickly about "What's was going to happen next?". Leif Toudal was able to provide invaluable maps, data and a full animation of the ice melt based on sophisicated satellite data and his vast knowldege and understanding of ice conditions in the polar regions. This news item was covered in three related web stories noted below:
[To view the multimedia animation of the
ice melt in the Lincoln Sea please visit:
The headline reads "Power to Ice Service", with the story focusing on how data from RADARSAT-1 satellite (and the upcoming RADARSAT-2) has been successfully used to monitor and forecast ice conditions in the polar regions. Polar View services and web address are highlighted.
[To view the full story (in Finnish) please visit: www.tekes.fi (Page 22)]
As part of the Polar View GSE project, FIMR has successfully delivered High-Resolution Ice Thickness Charts and Ice Forecasts over the Baltic Sea from December 2006 to May 2007. Users included the Finnish Maritime Administration, Finstaship Ltd, Ice Advisors Ltd and Swedish Maritime Administration. During the 2007 ice season user requests have grown considerable. Requests at the FIMR website for maps and data (http://polarview.fimr.fi) increased by over 200% (50,000 requests for first quarter of 2006 to over 180,000 requests for same period in 2007). FIMR will resume service at the beginning of the next ice season.
[To obtain more information, please visit: www.fimr.fi]
NORDLYS' story introduces the project by outlining the context of the progress meetings and explains that Polar View is an international project with a team of 25 experts from 9 countries with a goal of monitoring and describing the snow and ice in the Polar regions in a more accurate way than has been previously undertaken. The article also highlights some of the users of the services (Coast Guard around Svalbard in need of sea ice information, Cruise ships in need of ice information in Antarctica) and the benefits of Polar View (more accurate data).
[To view the photo and news article (in Norwegian), please click here]
Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) together with Finnish Environment Institute and Helsinki University of Technology have developed an operational Northern Eurasian wide snow monitoring system using satellite observations assimilated with snow depth measurements made on synoptic weather stations across the area. This service provides rough scale map of aerial extent, snow depth and snow water equivalent over the Northern Eurasia.
The snow service provided by FMI comprises mapping of snow depth and snow water equivalent over the northern Eurasia (between latitudes 50-85 and longitudes 0-180). This service is based on assimilation of EOS-Aqua/AMSR-E and in-situ observations and it is provided every second week. The following image shows snow depth at March 8th, 2007.
[To obtain more information, please visit our Snow Monitoring Service Page]
Finnish Broadcasting Company Science Programme (YLE Teema) featured a story on GMES and Polar View activities in early March. The story included statements from Jarkko Koskinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute (active partner of Polar View snow services and ESA delegate) and Volker Liebing, (European Space Agency's Director of Remote Sensing Programme) highlighting the benefits of all GMES activities and Polar View services in particular. The story focused on Polar View ice information provided by Finnish Institute of Marine Research and Finnish Maritime Administration that produces daily chart on ice conditions over Finnish sea areas. With these images both merchant vessels and icebreakers can plan their ice navigation routings more effectively.
[To view a print version of the story (in Finnish) please visit: www.yle.fi]
Polar View's river ice monitoring team at C-CORE is excited to offer its service to a new group of users, including the Krasnoyarsk Krai Government in Russia (Yenisey River), the Government of New Brunswick (Saint John River) and the Municipality of Hay River, North West Territories (Hay River). In addition, the Alberta Department of Environment, an existing client, have received monitoring services on the Peace River. The Canadian services are currently underway and the expanded Russian service will be launched in May 2007.
The new users will benefit from this unique service, as it will provide them with critical information to aid decision-makers in mitigating the potential impacts of ice-related flooding. The satellite-based river ice monitoring service complements ground and aerial surveillance activities. Encouraged by Polar View's success to date, the river ice monitoring team looks forward to the continued expansion of its international client base.
[To obtain more information, please visit our River Ice Monitoring Service Page]
Polar View's Snowmelt Monitoring of the Baltic Sea watershed region for 2007 is now underway. Since the beginning of March, the Finnish Environment Institute (or SYKE, after its Finnish acronym) has been monitoring and mapping the snowmelt in Finland and the surrounding regions.
Within the context of the Polar View programme, which began in 2006 and is funded through the Earthwatch GMES Service Element (GSE), SYKE provides a remote sensing-based service that monitors and maps the snowmelt in the Baltic Sea watershed region. The snow-covered area SYKE monitors covers Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as parts of Western Russia and Belarus. In 2008 the mapping project will expand to include parts of Poland as well.
The snow maps generated at SYKE are based on 500-metre resolution TERRA/MODIS-images. When clouds do not obstruct the imaging, satellite image maps are published every weekday within four to five hours of satellite overpass. The satellite images are downlinked to the Arctic Research Centre of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). The images are then further processed at SYKE, which uses the raw image data to create the snow maps. The maps have a resolution quality of 0.05x0.05 degrees. SYKE's snow mapping algorithm works for non-mountainous areas, both forested and non-forested.
It is possible to start using the optical remote sensing data at the beginning of March after the sun returns to the region following its winter hiatus. From March until the end of May the snowmelt is monitored on a daily basis.
Snow maps compiled for 24th, 26th, and 27th March 2007
The spatially well-distributed snow information is useful in hydrological modelling, flood forecasting and water resources management in general. Snow maps are a valuable data source for organisations studying the regional climate. They are also quite useful to the winter sports tourism industry in the region.
Thomas Puestow, Polar View's Project Manager, participated in numerous live radio interviews on CBC Radio YUKON and CBC Radio IQUALUIT in February 2007. The interviews focused on the benefits of Polar View's diverse range of ice and snow monitoring services with a particular focus on the impacts they are having in Canada's northern communities.
As International Polar Year (IPY) kicks off on March 1, 2007, a new Canadian project will make a significant contribution to the IPY objective of better understanding polar regions. Polar View, funded in part by the Canadian Space Agency, offers a unique satellite-based service designed to help Canadians identify the impacts of environmental/ human pressures and guide appropriate responses.
Using remote sensing technology, data about ice and snow conditions is gathered and analyzed by an experienced network of experts. Detailed information is then delivered, around-the-clock, to a diverse group of over 40 international users. These include government agencies, research institutes, commercial interests and northern residents.
Polar Views ice information service is being particularly well received in communities such as Pond Inlet on Baffin Island. Inuit hunters and travelers are able to go into the local Parks Canada office and view the latest ice and snow conditions. They can easily locate the changing ice edge and thin ice.
The mayor of Pond Inlet, David Qamaniq, says that that the Polar View information is critical for making travel plans in the north. Polar View information is very important to us. The elders tell us that its much harder to predict the ice conditions as well as the weather, said Qamaniq. There have been a couple of accidents, a couple of hunters went through the ice because they didnt know where the thin ice was.
Polar View services are currently offered free of charge. Most are available in near-real time and easily accessible via the Internet.
Having this sort of monitoring system is essential if we are going to be able to make the right decisions about environment, security and climate in the future, said Thomas Puestow, Polar Views manager.
Earth observation technologies have long been used to monitor the earth's weather conditions. But this is the first time services have been offered comprehensively by a network of the worlds leading cryospheric remote-sensing experts. Polar View service providers are located in nine countries with a management team in each significant polar region - North America, Antarctic, Euro-Arctic and the Baltic. Services can be customized to meet users needs.
Polar Views contribution to IPY is in collaboration with the worlds national ice services. The project, called Polar View: Polar Information Centre (IPY Activity ID 372) will build on the Polar View network and infrastructure. A dedicated web portal will be developed in conjunction with the International Ice Charting Working Group to distribute sea ice information to IPY investigators. Polar View will also offer its integrated monitoring and forecasting services to support scientific expeditions and national science programs operating in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
[To download high-resolution photos and video clips, please visit our Media Resources Section]
Polar View's Glacier Monitoring service (provided by the University of Stockholm and the Centre for Remote Sensing on Land Applications, University of Bonn) recently provided a Letter of Support to the Centre for Scientific Studies, Valdivia, Chile. "We have agreed to support their proposal for Global Environment Facility funding in establishing a glacier monitoring programme. Stockholm University will contribute 15000USD 'in-kind': primarily in training and consultancy" says Dr. Ian Brown of the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, University of Stockholm, Sweden. The goal is to build a sustainable glacier monitoring system based on earth observation and in situ measurements to support climate change monitoring, climate science and water resource planning and management.
Municipal officials from Badger, Newfoundland (located in the confluence of three rivers in the central region of the province of Newfoundland, Canada) are currently using Polar View's River Ice monitoring services to ensure they have safeguards in place so they do not repeat the devastating damage of the floods of 2003. The use of RADAR imagery for accurate location of the ice front represents a major improvement in the flood forecast capability for the residents of Badger. The RADAR images have proved to be absolutely essential to the successful ice progression modelling and calibration effort. The Mayor of Badger says the situation has stabilized but they continue to rely on Polar View's satellite data to monitor the situation.
[To read more detail on this story, please visit: www.vocm.com]
The Polar View team is excited to expand its service portfolio to include the following additional and enhanced service lines:
The upcoming International Polar Year (IPY) represents a unique opportunity for Polar View to build linkages and collaborations that further the goal of sustainable services and enhance the overall range of science and operation activities that benefit from satellite data in the polar regions. To this end, Polar View participated in the 7th annual meeting of the International Ice Charting Working Group (IICWG) in September 2006 to continue the discussion of a joint contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY). IICWG and Polar View agreed to collaborate on the implementation of a dedicated web portal for the provision of operational sea ice-related information for IPY investigators and researchers. The portal will include a standard suite of products consisting of ice information routinely produced by the national ice services and Polar View for both logistics and science purposes. In addition, specialized, custom-tailored products will be offered in support of specific IPY activates. In summary, the portal will bring together a wide range of techniques and disciplines under one umbrella to deliver a coordinated range of sea ice navigation and polar information based on EO data.
[To obtain more information on Polar View's
IPY project, please visit: www.ipy.org]
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network of Canada (APTC) aired a segment on their primetime nightly newscast featuring Polar View's services that deliver maps and information to the Inuit people of Canada's northern communities. The story highlighted the benefits and impacts of the floe-edge service in assisting hunters and fishers safely navigate the ice-edge in light of changing weather and climate conditions.
[To view the news segment, please click here]
FIMR's Polar View services over the Baltic Seas were extremely well utilized during the 2006 ice season, with more than 73,000 online requests. In 2007, FIMR will continue to deliver both high-resolution ice thickness charts and ice forecasts over the Baltic Sea. Current key users include the Finnish Maritime Administration, Finstaship Ltd, Ice Advisors Ltd and Swedish Maritime Administration. The services will again be made available to all interested parties at polarview.fimr.fi.
The European Space Agency congratulates the Polar View team on its first year of operation. The level of service delivery and interaction with users has been outstanding and the number of delivered products and signed service level agreements has increased beyond initial predictions. Polar View looks to 2007 as an exciting and challenging second year with the start of the International Polar Year and new activities and team members as follows: