Canadian Arctic: RADARSAT-2 Glacier Monitoring in Support of Climate Change Impact Assessment and Water Resources Management
Ice caps and glaciers occupy ~150,000 km2 of the Canadian Arctic Islands which, collectively represents the largest area of land ice outside of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Knowledge of the recent changes and future behaviour of the Canadian Arctic Islands glacier and ice response to climate change is of great interest for the Government of Canada (i.e. sea level rise, impact on marine ecosystems, effects on the surface energy balance in the polar regions, etc.). It is therefore critical to develop a system to monitor the state-of-health of glaciers and ice caps in Canada's Arctic to identify long term mass balance trends and the corresponding freshwater fluxes to the ocean. For some regions, this ice may also represent a significant future water resource serving human needs. In addition to ice dynamics, knowledge of facies or the main ice types that comprise a glacier is also critical. The development of these ice zones is primarily a function of the climate forces over the course of the previous year. Thus climate change has a direct impact on the spatial extent of these zones, which in turn affects the near surface processes as well as the mass changes inferred from changes in thickness across each zone. It is important to develop reliable techniques aimed at mapping these zones on a regular basis.
Earth Observation (EO), and in particular synthetic aperture radar (SAR), has played a significant role in understanding glacier movement and trends as an input to mass balance modelling. With the new features and capabilities that exist on RADARSAT-2 EO satellite, there is potential to enhance existing, and develop new innovative glacier movement and facies classification products.
Through the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Earth Observation Applications Development Program (EOADP), the Canadian company C-CORE, in cooperation with the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, is developing new products using RADARSAT-2 to monitor glacier and ice sheet movement and facies change in the Canadian Arctic. The objective of the project, titled "RADARSAT-2 Glacier Monitoring in Support of Climate Change Impact Assessment and Water Resources Management", is to investigate and develop glacier mapping products of velocity and facies over the high Arctic ice caps using RADARSAT-2 InSAR information. These activities will complement work by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing and Geological Survey of Canada within their State and Evolution of Canada's Glaciers (SECG) program.
Glacier velocity measured over the Belcher Glacier, Devon Island, Canada.
The results were derived by applying a Speckle Tracking method to a pair of
RADARSAT-2 Fine beam images collected in December 2008.
(Credit: CSA, C-CORE, 2009)
RADARSAT-2 Data and Products © MacDONALD, DETTWILER AND ASSOCIATES LTD (2009) – All Rights Reserved. RADARSAT is an official mark of the Canadian Space Agency.