Operational Remote Sensing of Sea Ice


  • John C. Falkingham




Aerial surveys, Geographic information systems, Government publications, Ice navigation, Movement, Remote sensing, Satellite communications, Satellite photography, Sea ice, Spatial distribution, Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, Canadian Beaufort Sea, Great Lakes, Canada/United States, Hudson Bay, St. Lawrence, Gulf of, Canada


The Ice Branch of Environment Canada's Atmospheric Environment Service is responsible for providing information about ice conditions in Canada's offshore areas. Principal clients include the Canadian Coast Guard, commercial shipping companies, the oil and gas industry and fishermen, who all require accurate information on ice distribution in near real-time. In order to provide this information, the Ice Branch employs a Challenger jet aircraft equipped with dual wide-swath synthetic aperture radars and a Dash-7 equipped with a real aperture side-looking airborne radar. These aircraft image approximately 100 million sq km annually. Radar image data from these aircraft are downlinked during flight via an S-band telemetry link to Coast Guard icebreakers and to satellite stations in the Ice Reconnaissance Data Network, which relays the data to the Ice Centre in Ottawa. There, the data are integrated with remotely sensed data from satellites and are used as the basis for ice analysis charts produced and distributed by radio facsimile on a daily basis.

Key words: sea ice, remotes ensing, Arctic, radar, shipping,s atellite, data communication