Navigation Links
ESA satellites focusing on the Arctic
Date:12/2/2008

The Arctic is undergoing rapid transformation due to climate change, pollution and human activity. ESA's ERS and Envisat satellites have been providing satellite data of the region for the last 17 years. These long term data sets in combination with ESA's future missions will be key in implementing the newly adopted European Commission policy called 'The European Union and the Arctic Region'.

The policy highlights new opportunities in the region such as the opening up of long-sought transportation routes due to receding ice. However, it focuses on the need to carry out these activities in a sustainable manner.

In situ research is difficult to carry out in Polar Regions because of the remoteness and harshness of the area. From their unique positions in space, Earth-observing satellites provide effective means of continuously monitoring these regions.

The Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) sensor aboard Envisat is especially suitable for monitoring the Arctic because it can acquire images through clouds and darkness conditions often found there. ESA is devoting about half of its radar instrument resources to polar area acquisitions.

In 2007, ASAR data showed that the Arctic area covered by sea ice had shrunk to its lowest level since satellites began monitoring the area nearly 30 years ago. In 2008, ASAR data revealed that the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, and the Northwest Passage were both open simultaneously for the first time since satellite measurements began.

Using another instrument aboard Envisat, the radar altimeter, scientists measured sea ice thickness over the Arctic from 2002 to 2008. Based on these data, they found that sea ice thickness in large parts of the Arctic had declined by as much as 19% in 2007 compared to the previous five winters.

The Arctic is experiencing an increase in shipping, primarily for oil and gas development and tourism, with further increases expected due to diminishing ice extent.

The ice loss leads to an increasing number of icebergs in the area. Safe and efficient navigation through these ice-infested waters requires accurate, up-to-date sea ice information. Iceberg detection services are currently being provided by national ice centres, mainly using European and Canadian radar sensors.

The Polar View initiative, established by European and Canadian organisations under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, cooperates with European Ice Services to improve ice monitoring and forecasting.

Ulf Gullne, a Polar View user responsible for ice-breaking services in Sweden, said: "It is vital for the safety of winter navigation to know where the ice is and where it is going to be. The use of satellite images has also reduced our ice-breakers' fuel consumption by half."

The EC policy calls for the continuity of monitoring in the area via the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) a joint initiative between ESA and the EC to combine all available space- and ground-based information sources to develop an independent European environmental monitoring capacity from planetary to local scales.

ESA is working to ensure this with its upcoming Sentinel missions, which will make certain that polar observations from space will continue with SAR and radar altimetry.

Data collected over the Arctic since 1991 is part of an ESA Initiative on Climate Change that was being presented to ESA Member States at its Ministerial Conference this week. The proposal aims to ensure delivery of appropriate information on climate variables derived from satellites.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Value of satellites recognized for conserving wetlands
2. Satellites helping aid workers in Honduras
3. Digital cameras, remote satellites measure crop water demand
4. Satellites illuminate pollutions influence on clouds
5. Satellites take sustainability to new heights
6. ASU researchers use NASA satellites to improve pollution modeling
7. Satellites help ensure efficient use of pesticides
8. UNCCD recognizes importance of satellites for combating desertification
9. Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history
10. First comprehensive inventory of life in Antarctica
11. FSU Historians Arctic research has him sitting on top of the world
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/13/2016)... 13, 2016 ... of the  "India Biometrics Authentication & ... (2015-2020)"  report to their offering.  ... announced the addition of the  "India ... Estimation & Forecast (2015-2020)"  report ...
(Date:1/11/2016)... , Jan. 11, 2016  higi, the leading ... 10,000 retail locations, web and mobile, today announced ... million from existing investors. --> ... devoted to further innovate higi,s health platform – ... web portal – including expanding services and programs ...
(Date:1/8/2016)... -- NXTD ), a company focused on ... privately held leading direct seller of vacation and entertainment ... company announced that on December 31, 2015, that WorldVentures ... to develop a proprietary new wireless smart card for ... unique smart wallet that serves to securely store all ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)...  BioElectronics Corporation (OTC Pink: BIEL), the maker ... it is responding to a notice of an ... Exchange Commission posted on the agency website.  ... Board of BioElectronics Corporation and the Edward and ... Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.   ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Franz Inc. , an early innovator ... announced the availability of AllegroGraph 6, the leading Semantic Graph Database with certification ... Program (CCPT). AllegroGraph is the first Semantic Graph Database to be certified ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... Inc. (NYSE: DPLO) announced today that its new website has gone live. On Thursday, Feb. 4, ... Visit the new site: www.diplomat.is ... ... ... "The goal was to reimagine the website and create a smarter, ...
(Date:2/6/2016)... ... February 06, 2016 , ... Contact:, ... Center for Excellence in Education Sponsors Teacher Training Program , Bite of Science ... – The Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) will sponsor a Bite of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: