Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

IceSAR campaign provides glimpse of future Sentinel-1 images over ice

21.03.2007
It is perhaps fitting that at the beginning of the International Polar Year, an ambitious airborne campaign is now underway and realising excellent results in the extreme north of Europe in support of ESA's Sentinel-1 mission - which amongst other application areas will contribute to ice monitoring.

Carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), the images that Sentinel-1 will provide are particularly well suited for applications based on mapping sea ice. High-resolution ice charts, monitoring icebergs and forecasting ice conditions are examples of important application areas that are expected to benefit greatly from Sentinel-1, which is being developed by ESA in support of GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).

Developing the mission to meet the users' needs in a variety of application areas is of utmost importance. A major challenge for Sentinel-1 is to ensure that the satellite will yield data with the quality and timeliness that users truly need. It is not surprising therefore, that airborne campaigns play an important role in helping with the design of these missions as the experiments carried out simulate satellite data long before the actual launch of the mission.

"ESA is putting a tremendous effort into the design and implementation of the Sentinel-1 mission," says Malcolm Davidson, Sentinel-1 Mission Scientist. "While this effort might be invisible to future users of Sentinel-1 products, it is critical that we validate the modes of operation and quality of data products ahead of launch. The IceSAR campaign is allowing us to simulate Sentinel-1 radar images over ice well before launch in 2011, and better prepare for the mission."

Now one week into the IceSAR campaign, a few surprises are being revealed. Unexpectedly, there is a lack of ice – even where the campaign is being carried out near Longyearbyen in Svalbard, which is way above and Arctic Circle and only 10 degrees from the North Pole.

"It is unusual to have so little sea ice at this time of year," commented sea ice expert Wolfgang Dierking from the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI), who is leading a team investigating better methods of characterising sea ice and the impact it has on climate. "This illustrates the importance mapping sea ice extent and conditions from space. In addition to the operational needs for high-resolution ice charts, in support of shipping for instance, we know that sea ice plays a major role in climate forecasting as it both acts as a blanket of insulation between the water and the atmosphere and, unlike open water, strongly reflects incident sunlight. Consistent information on sea ice conditions over large areas and over long time periods are required – which is exactly what the Sentinel-1 mission will bring."

A big help in locating sea ice has come from the radar satellite images from current SAR missions such as Envisat. Such 'radar maps' are now available operationally through the internet and provide a synoptic view of ice conditions around Svalbard. During campaign activities they are an integral part of the planning meeting held each morning with all the campaign participants.

The campaign will last about three weeks, but one week in and the first successful airborne acquisitions have already been made and processed on site. Irene Hajnsek from the German Space Agency DLR said that, "What impresses me most is the variety and clarity of the different sea ice structures visible in the radar images. The dual-polarisation C-band images we collected a few days ago and closely mimic those of the future Sentinel-1 mission show an amazing variety of different ice floes. The different shapes and sizes are clearly distinguished in the images because of their texture, and using both polarisations at the same time through the roughness shows up as colour. It is quite a challenge to collect and process data over flight legs of 150 km or more, but looking at these images I know we are on the right track."

The IceSAR participants include teams from the Alfred Wegner Institute, the Microwave and Radar Institute from the German Space Agency DLR and ESA, and despite the numbingly cold conditions the campaign will continue with a number of other airborne flights over sea ice in the coming days.

Malcolm Davidson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaLP/SEMFI0R08ZE_LPcampaigns_0.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting eruptions using satellites and math
28.06.2017 | Frontiers

nachricht NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora
27.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>