SONARC: Development of sea ice monitoring and forecasting system to support safe operations and navigation in Arctic Seas

SONARC is a NORRUSS project that will contribute to research cooperation between Norway and Russia with focus on satellite technology for safe navigation and maritime operations in the Arctic.

Objectives

The primary objective of SONARC is to develop a sea ice monitoring and forecasting system based on satellite data and ice-ocean models to support safe operations and navigation in Arctic Seas.

Secondary objectives:

  1. Establish a data acquisition, archiving and retrieval system that is updated daily with new satellite data and model forecasts.
  2. Develop and validate algorithms for retrieval of sea ice classes, motion and icebergs from SAR and optical satellite images.
  3. Explore and characterise sea ice processes that are important for navigation and operations, by integrating data from satellites, including AIS data, forcing data from atmosphere and ocean and modelling results.
  4. Integrate satellite data and numerical models products to be used in the monitoring and forecasting system.
  5. Demonstrate the sea ice monitoring and forecasting system to users operating in Arctic waters.

Project Summary

The main objective of SONARC is to develop a sea ice monitoring and forecasting system to support safe operations and navigation in Arctic Seas. SONARC will exploit Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data from satellites as a major component of this system. From 2015 Sentinel-1 will the main provider of SAR data, which will be delivered every day in near realtime for monitoring of sea ice and other environmental parameters. The proposal will develop algorithms for (1) sea ice classification of different ice types and open water; (2) ice drift with sufficient resolution to map mesoscale ice motion and deformation fields; and (3) iceberg detection by combined use of SAR and high-resolution optical images. Furthermore, SONARC will integrate SAR data with AIS data (Automatic Identification System) from vessels operating in sea ice areas. With AIS positions combined with SAR images it will be possible for ship captains to find sailing routes through open leads or thin ice and avoid areas ice with ridges and other difficult ice situations. For planning optimal sailing routes in the Arctic, a navigation model will be used in combination with AIS and satellite-based ice data. Finally, the sea ice data and navigation data combined with ice forecasts will be demonstrated to an ice-going vessel during a field trial. The demonstration will also include use of an ice forecasting model developed at NERSC The results of the field trial will be assessed by users and recommendation for future implementation of a monitoring and forecasting system will be made. Key user groups for the system will be shipping companies, oil and gas companies, operational met-ocean services, coastal and ship traffic authorities, risk management, and environmental organizations working in the Arctic.

 
Project Details
Acronym: 
SONARC
Funding Agency: 
Research Council of Norway
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Stein Sandven
Project Deputy Leader at NERSC: 
Lasse H. Pettersson
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: 
Ongoing