WP6: Data Collection and Fieldwork

icon of layers of snow

We regularly work in the field. In addition to studying ocean, ice, snow surfaces and oil spills from afar, we compare satellite remote sensing data with real-world observations.

We carefully design field campaigns in connection with satellite overflights, helicopter and drone measurements, and perform manual ground measurements for calibrating and validating our satellite remote sensing products.

Ground measurements on sea ice during CIRFA`s expedition in 2022. Photo: Sebastian Gerland, NPI.
Researchers are investigating an ice ridge during the MOSAiC expedition. Photo: Polona Itkin, UiT.
A drone carrying a snow radar. Photo: Sebastian Gerland, NPI.

Arctic sea ice is highly dynamic with its physical properties and thus its remote sensing appearance changing rapidly. Acquiring sufficient ground truth data for calibration and validation of satellite remote sensing products is a major limiting factor to the development of Earth observation techniques.

CIRFA researchers join dedicated field campaigns to manually collect ground measurements. The purpose is to combine accurate in-situ, drone, helicopter and aircraft observations with and satellite data, and improve validation shortcomings with new and refined methods.

We collaborate with projects partners that run long-term monitoring programs and conduct field campaigns. In 2015, the Norwegian Polar Institute froze its research vessel Lance in Arctic sea ice north of Svalbard. This was an excellent opportunity to design and collect data sets specifically for remote sensing ground truth calibration and validation purposes. In addition, coastal and fjord-based long-term monitoring data from land stations are used to support the remote sensing research.

Research tasks

Plan and conduct field campaigns on Arctic sea ice, open water, and oil spills to combine direct measurements of surface properties with airborne and satellite-based data.

Improve validation shortcomings by seeking and implementing new and refined measurement concepts and methods using new technologies and platforms.

Provide quality ground-truth data from archives and new campaigns for assessing the calibration and validation of remote sensing products.

An expedition to the western Fram Strait and eastern Greenland that was organised by CIRFA in April and May 2022. To our knowledge, this was Norway`s first ship-based research expedition with focus on remote sensing and ground validation. During this expedition, 33 scientists spend 3 weeks on board RV Kronprins Haakon and collected a unique dataset. Find the cruise report here.

photo of the CIRFA expedition team
The CIRFA 2022 expedition team. Photo: Wenkai Guo, UiT.

Further examples are the N-ICE2015 experiment where the research vessel RV Lance of the Norwegian Polar Institute was frozen into drifting ice in the Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard for half a year, annual campaigns of the Norwegian Polar Institute, NOFO’s (Norsk Oljevernforening For Operatørselskap / The Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies), data from the international one-year long Arctic MOSAiC expedition (2019-2020) in the central Arctic Ocean, and cruises with RV Kronprins Haakon within the Norwegian Nansen Legacy project.

Team members

Sebastian Gerland

WP6 leader, NPI


Sea ice and climate research with focus on the Arctic (Fram Strait, Svalbard, Barents Sea)

Malin Johansson

Associate Professor, WP3 leader, WP6 co-leader, UiT


Using satellite images to study Arctic sea ice and oil spills

Anca Cristea

Post Doc, NPI



Sea ice classification from multimodal remote sensing data

Rune Storvold

Department manager observation systems, NORCE

Posts about this research topic

Other research topics