The Arctic is part of Canadian territory, our history and culture. Protecting national interests and sovereignty – the integrity of our borders – is the first and foremost responsibility of the Canadian Government. We recognize the North is a vast storehouse of energy and mineral resources; we know that climate change is increasing accessibility to our resources; providing new opportunities, and we understand the challenges our sovereignty in the Arctic may face. To benefit from new opportunities and withstand the challenges, Canadian federal departments need continuous up-to-date information on the Arctic environment – land, water and ice – to better serve Canadians.
Through the Canadian Space Agency Governement Related Initiatives Program (GRIP) the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) of the Department of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has developed new technology and produced the first-ever Satellite Arctic circumpolar map at 250m spatial resolution from MODIS data.
Work has been conducted in the NRCan Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) Program "Enhancing Resilience in a Changing Climate" and contributes also to the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) program started this year. The image encompasses a 9,000km x 9,000 km area centered over the North Pole. It covers the entire Canadian landmass and surrounding oceans as well as large portion of Eurasia north of 49deg. With such a high spatial resolution (pixel size 250m) and rich spectral information (7bands in solar spectrum), this product presents a unique opportunity for mapping the Arctic environment. By the end of IPY in 2009, a decade long (2000-2009) time series of these satellite data sets documenting the state and variability of the Arctic region at high spatial and temporal resolution will be produced.
This achievement is a culmination of the EO technology development supported by the CSA GRIP program in the project entitled "MEdium-Resolution data products for environmental and climate Applications (MERA)" and now continued in the project "Climate Change and Ecosystem Impact (CCEI)". The MERA project was initiated to address the needs of various Government of Canada departments (NRCan, Statistics Canada, Parks Canada, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Health Canada) for medium resolution (250m-500m) optical data at a national scale. These data offer unique capability by combining very rich spectral information with medium spatial resolution that provides detailed large scale coverage on a daily basis. The ability to provide daily coverage is extremely important for key operational applications, such as the monitoring of ice, snow, ocean surface, agriculture and forest, droughts, forest fires, etc.. Accumulated time series of satellite data are unique sources of information for assessment of climate change impacts, better understanding of changes to the Canadian landmass, monitoring and environmental protection.
In support of NRCAN's mandate, the CSA's GRIP contributes the development of Earth Observation (EO) applications and products that will help increase and preserve our national sovereignty in the Arctic. Canada's EO supported missions (RADARSAT-1, RADARSAT-2, SAR Constellation) and our participation in the European Space Agency and other international missions now give us continuous access to strategic information on our territory and the entire Arctic region.
*Reference – GoC – August 2007