Ice Charting Services and Developments with Cosmo-SkyMed
Angelucci, Maria1; Karvonen, Juha2; Eriksson, Patrick2

The use of satellites in ice detection and monitoring applications is a very efficient way to monitor wide sea areas and relevant ice conditions, independently from the day time and weather conditions. EO SAR (Synthetic Aperture RADAR) technology is more suitable with respect to optical sensors, as SAR provides information independently on the day time and weather and allows a more accurate ice classification into different classes. Authorities and privately held companies which have interests in northern sea areas are constantly increasing their use of EO products in truly operational activities. A very high information content is obtained by the SAR data alone. Additional information (ground truth data, oceanographic models, aerial reconnaissance), possibly with minor manual adjustments, improve the automatic ice product accuracy in operationally available ice charting services. SAR data provide information on the ice coverage, the size of ice floes, the shape of ice floes and the edges of ice. In June 2012, e-GEOS (ASI/Telespazio) signed a contract for the setting up of a COSMO-SkyMed (SAR X-band) receiving Ground Station (GS) in Sodankylä, Finland, operated by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) as a part of the Finnish Ministry of Transportation and which became operational at the beginning of 2013. FMI is a research and service agency under the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications; FMI produces high quality services and scientific know-how to promote public safety and ensuring preparedness in the society. FMI’s Ice Service started regular ice monitoring of the Baltic Sea in February 1915 and has continuously developed the products and services to support safe navigation in ice. e-GEOS is a leading international operator in geo-spatial services, offering a whole range of products and services in the Earth Observation and geo-spatial application domains, based on both optical and radar satellites, as well as on aerial surveys. e-GEOS is the world-wide Exclusive Data Distributor for the COSMO-SkyMed program of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Ministry of Defense. The program is based on a constellation of four VHR SAR satellites, which provides all-weather, day and night, world-wide radar data. This important agreement provides Finland and e-GEOS with COSMO-SkyMed direct reception capabilities over the Baltic and a large part of the Arctic areas to monitor ice formation and motion, and temporal Arctic changes. It also allows a NRT (near-real time) access to satellite data acquired worldwide. The COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation in particular contributes to support Ice Services' stakeholders, as it provides worldwide SAR data with an incomparable performance in terms of revisit time, image resolution, rapid coverage of huge areas and number of acquired scenes. It provides synoptic information during day and night and at all weather conditions. e-GEOS and FMI are partnering to exploit and develop COSMO-SkyMed capabilities (X-band), for operational Ice Charting services.

Major developments will be obtained in the following applications:

  • Ice Forecast, incorporating SAR measurements (ice concentration and thickness) and ice model (data assimilation).
  • Ice and Icebergs drifting, thanks to the incomparable COSMO-SkyMed revisit capability.
  • Emergency Services, to support public and private entities in safety issue management of ice-affected routes and off-shore infrastructures. The capability for an efficient response in case of an emergency is not only linked to the time the data are received by the Ground Segment, but also to several other components of the response systems. It will be analysed as: tasking time of the satellites, revisit time of the different satellites, location of the Ground Segments Reception capabilities, 24h emergency and data access availability.
  • River ice analysis and monitoring, to support traffic management and safety issues on navigable rivers.
  • Change Detection analysis, based on multi-temporal SAR-analysis over the same area.

    Image 1. A CSK SAR image (©ASI 2012, processed under license from ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana. All rights reserved. Distributed by e-GEOS) Northern Caspian Sea (top). Modeled ice thickness (based on a thermodynamic ice model, HIGHTSI, middle, © FMI), and ice thickness, estimated based on HIGHTSI and CSK SAR data (bottom, © FMI). Ice thickness given in cm.