Innovation highlights

CIRFA’s innovations activities are oriented towards development of integrated remote sensing products and services, with the objective to improve monitoring and forecasting capabilities in the Arctic of benefit to industrial operators, science, and society in general. Below, we highlight some of CIRFA’s most mature Innovation Activities.

Wind from SAR

CIRFA has facilitated the set-up of an operational processing-line at KSAT for generating oceanic wind-maps from synthetic aperture radar data. The product is based on algorithms developed at NORUT, and installed at KSAT, as part of the work in WP 1 of CIRFA. The system can process ocean wind field from various satellite missions, modes of operation and polarizations, and uses model input for calibration. The system has been running in an operational environment for a couple of months, and results in terms of geophysical quality, throughput and stability are very good.

Sea ice segmentation

WP2 of CIRFA has further refined the advanced and automatic UiT-algorithms for analyzing narrowswath quad-polarization SAR images over sea ice. The algorithms have now been modified to also accommodate wide-swath, dual-polarization SAR data from Sentinel 1 and Radarsat 2, which will allow them to be implemented and tested in operational large-scale processing. Even if the transition to wide-swath data has revealed some new challenges related to the signal’s incidence dependence angle and system noise, initial tests show great operational potential, and in Q2 2018 a semi-operational icewater mask will be available. The ice-water mask will subsequently be integrated as an additional layer into IA 1 product, and significantly improve the wind estimation maps in ice-infested waters.

Oil-spill drift modelling and prediction

Met Norway has developed and implemented the OpenDrift trajectory framework. The oil-drift module (OpenOil) was used to predict oil-spill drift in the NORSE’2015 oil-on-water experiment in the North Sea in 2015. Here, it was in particular demonstrated that with a proper parameterization of oil entrainment and particle size, the software was able to quite accurately predict the drift trajectory of the spills. Several improvements of the OpenDrift trajectory framework has been implemented in 2017, among these the benefiting in all drift applications (oil drift, search-and-rescue, ice bergs…), of using ensemble forcing data.

Drone-borne snow radar

Snow cover on sea ice is an important climate variable, as snow has insulating thermal properties. Accumulation is affected sea ice topographic features, such as pressure ridges and leads, and the actual distribution impacts heat exchange between ocean and atmosphere. Hence, sensors, which allow for detailed mapping of the snow depth and snow distribution are of high value. CIRFA’s WP4 has developed a prototype ultra-wide band (UWB) snow radar, which can be mounted flown on drones. The radar was test-flown on an autonomous octocopter during the INTPART summer school in May 2017 and demonstrated big potential for measuring snow depth over larger, local areas.

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