Earth Observation Express

EO Express

November 19, 2012 – no 56

1. Athabasca Oil Sands Safety: Surface Deformation Monitoring for Steam Release with RADARSAT-2

One of the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) mandates is to ensure that in-situ bitumen extraction in the Alberta oil sands is done safely. Excess pressure within the steam chambers or failure of the caprock formations above it can potentially lead to a catastrophic release of steam at the surface, leading to a disaster crisis/emergency and endangering lives and destroying valuable resources. In close collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Earth Observation Applications and Utilization Division, ERBC and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) used available InSAR data to measure surface deformation in the area of the Athabasca Oil Sands, which contains a number of active SAGD sites, in order to test the feasibility of using InSAR as a monitoring tool for steam release risk (pre-crisis). The initiative was developed via the CSA Rapid Information Products and Services (RIPS) initiative. For more information: and

2. Canadian Cryosphere: Advanced Satellite SAR Applications

Freshwater ice and permafrost represent important components of Canada's (sub-)Arctic landscape and are tied to every aspect of the lives of Canadians. From April 2010 to March 2012, the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) of the Earth Science Sector of Natural Resources Canada carried out an ambitious set of projects under the umbrella of the NRCan/ESS 'Remote Sensing Science' Program with financial contributions from the Government Related Initiatives Program (GRIP) of the Canadian Space Agency, the Canada Program for the International Polar Year, and the Polar Continental Shelf Program of Natural Resources Canada. The CCRS scientists and their collaborators in other Canadian government and research institutions relied on RADARSAT image analysis together with other forms of geospatial and Earth Observation data to further our knowledge of the state of Canada's cryosphere. Their report entitled "Advanced SAR Applications for Canada's Cryosphere: Freshwater ice, and Permafrost" is now available on-line: For more information: and

3. Building Public Health Capacity: Assessment of the Risks of Microbial Contamination of Recreational Waters Using Satellite Imagery

Recreational water bodies may be subject to microbial contamination, posing a public health risk. The vulnerability of a beach to microbial contamination depends in part on environmental determinants (impervious surface, agricultural surface, forest, wetland, surface water, topography, soil type, etc.). As part of the Canadian Space Agency's GRIP, the Public Health Agency of Canada's Population and Environment division conducted a project entitled "Assessment of the Risks of Microbial Contamination of Recreational Waters Using Satellite Imagery." The project examined the usefulness and value-added of EO images as a component in monitoring and managing microbial risks associated with recreational waters. The project covered a sample of 78 beaches located in three watersheds in southern Quebec. Various EO systems, including RADARSAT-2, ENVISAT MERIS, NOAA AVHRR, MODIS, Landsat 5 TM, SPOT 5 HRG, WorldView-2 and GeoEye, were used to characterize the targeted determinants. The results of the statistical risk-assessment models show that EO images assist substantially in the identification of the environmental characteristics associated with a higher risk of microbial contamination. Positive associations were observed between the water contamination level and the size of the adjacent agricultural surfaces and the presence of impervious surfaces. The data generated by the images can therefore complement the monitoring program by making it possible to better target the beaches most at risk and thus allocate resources more effectively. A number of partners contributed to this project, including Université de Montréal's epidemiology of zoonoses and public health research unit (GREZOSP), Université de Sherbrooke's centre for research and applications in remote sensing (CARTEL), and the CCRS. For more information, e mail and

4. Disaster Risk Management: CSA and NASA Cooperate to Monitor the Impacts of Hurricane Leslie on Newfoundland and Labrador

Within the framework of the international Committee on Satellite Earth Observation (CEOS), the CSA is collaborating with NASA on various projects to monitor, manage and respond to natural disasters. In September 2012, several regions of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) (Canada) have experienced high winds and torrential rainfall associated with the passage of Hurricane Leslie. Through the existing partnership, the CSA's Earth Observation Applications and Utilizations (EOAU) Division and NASA collaborated to obtain EO satellite information related to potential floods and landslides. CSA planned for rapid acquisition and delivery of several RADARSAT-2 scenes over the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland. NASA provided access to EO-1 ALI and MODIS imagery. Based on the analysis of the satellite images through the CSA RIPS disaster initiative, geomatics experts have produced several image maps. The EO-based products have been transferred to emergency organizations in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and to Public Safety Canada. For more information, please visit; or please contact and

5. MDA Receives Follow-on Contract for Land Information

MDA announced on October 2 that it has received a follow-on contract for US$9.8 million to map soil characterization and terrain globally. MDA leveraged its software that identifies changes in land-cover to provide a rapid and cost effective solution to meet customer needs. For more information, please visit:

6. MDA to Continue Supporting US Government with Land-cover Changes

MDA, announced on October 24 that the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has exercised a one year option valued at US$4 million to continue the provision of apparent changes in land-cover anywhere around the globe. MDA will deliver changes for more than 100 million square kilometers of the Earth's land surface. For more information, please visit: