SAR imagery helping to find a clear path for ships

Icebergs are a threat to maritime activities well outside the polar regions. For particular operational activities in areas prone to icebergs, it can be necessary to monitor icebergs upstream of the operational area, giving time for iceberg management or response to take place. The example shown here is for the Falkland Islands where drilling has taken place. Although the Falkland Islands are a long distance from the Antarctic, large icebergs do occasionally drift up to the Falkland Islands, having broken off one of the many large floating ice shelves that surround Antarctica.

Some information is available on the climatology of iceberg drift, for example from a database of large Antarctic icebergs, and some information can be inferred from buoy trajectories and modelling, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to forecast in advance when a group of icebergs will drift into the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and hence the necessity to set up a monitoring “gateway” upstream of the area of operations. Many months or even years may pass without sightings of icebergs in the region of the islands.

Radar satellite imagery is the best suite for icebergs detection no matter what the weather conditions (or conditions of daylight) are. The images are acquired to optimize overall sampling of the area in terms of coverage and also spatial resolution. The maximum speed of the icebergs can be used to assess the required revisit time to ensure that no icebergs pass through the region without being detected. For the best results, the collection plan should imagery data in spatial resolution covering most of the area of interest in a 24 hour period.

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