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National Ice Center Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Usage. Ms. Sharolyn Young NOAA/ NESDIS/ NIC August 15, 2007. NATIONAL ICE CENTER. The Nation’s Single Inter-agency for Operational Ice Analysis and Forecasting. Navy-NOAA-USCG MOA Annex II (NAVICE-NESDIS-USCG)

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national ice center synthetic aperture radar sar usage

National Ice Center Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Usage

Ms. Sharolyn Young


August 15, 2007

national ice center

The Nation’s Single Inter-agency for

Operational Ice Analysis and Forecasting

    • Formation of National Ice Center 1995
    • Annex II Update Signed 21July 2005
national ice center1


Center of excellence in global ice meteorology and oceanographic services.


To provide the highest quality strategic and tactical ice services tailored to meet the operational requirements of U.S. national interests. To provide specialized meteorological and oceanographic services to U.S. government agencies.

access to commercial sar data
Access to Commercial SAR Data

• At present, the following SAR mission can potentially supply the demand of data currently used to fulfill US government requirements.

- All SAR data provided to the US from international missions:

Canadian RADARSAT-1

European Space Agency’s Envisat ASAR


• SAR is the only sensor with required combination of:

Aerial Coverage (global)

High Resolution

Cloud Discerning (Arctic & cold regions are cloud covered 75-80 % of typical winter season)


Insuring continued affordable access to SAR data.

sar data requirements
SAR Data Requirements
  • Support NOAA’s Mission Goals
  • Goal (4) Support the Nation’s Commerce with Information for Safe, Efficient and Environmentally Sound Transportation
  • - NIC ice nowcast and forecast information support vital civilian and military shipping in waters that contain navigational ice hazards.
  • Goal (3) Serve society’s need for weather and water information.
  • - Products provides real-time ice nowcast to improve accuracy of NWS weather prediction model outputs
  • Goal (2) Understand Climate Variability and Change to Enhance Society’s Ability to Plan and Respond
  • - Polar research activities contribute to better understanding of cryosphere and oceans
sar requirements con t
SAR Requirements (con’t)
    • Support NAVY Operational Mission Requirements:
    • SUBFORCE letter 21 SEP 05 (validated by CFFC)
      • Daily Ice edge/Marginal Ice Zone
      • Fractures, Leads, Polynyas
      • Ice thickness twice per week
  • • Office of Naval Intelligence
  • • Request for classified products
      • Current and expected ice conditions in harbors
      • Ice thickness and icebreaking rqmnts in harbors
    • Navy Atlantic METOC Center letter 05 SEP 03 (OTSR Support)
      • Route specific ice edge information, iceberg position
    • Support USCG Icebreaking Missions:
      • DISTRICT 5 AND 9 MOA’S
      • International Ice Patrol
      • Ches/Del Bay, Great Lakes icebreaking operations
      • * Ice Impacts On Safety Of Life And Commerce At Sea
fy07 access to sar data
FY07 Access to SAR Data


  • Received by U.S. Government (USG) under NASA/NOAA/Canadian Space Agency (CSA) MOU

Under this MOU:

  • R-1 data currently being received over Western Arctic and processed at Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) for an annual fee of $185K.
  • SAR over Great Lakes area received from CSA in exchange for SAR over Alaska Region.
  • Images over all other NIC AOR’s (Eastern Arctic, Antarctic)
  • Currently 90% of Navy SAR requirements now met via NGA funding.


1) RADARSAT-1 MOU extension will expire upon launch & checkout of RADARSAT-2 (est. launch is the 3rd Qtr of CY2007 + 3 months checkout) or November 2007.

2) R-2 is a commercial mission and currently NOAA/Navy expected to pay commercial ratesfor data beginning FY08 & beyond. (est. $2000.00 per scene)

planned fy08 access to sar data
Planned (FY08) Access to SAR Data

Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS ) PALSAR Data

  • NOAA/JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) /ASF Agreements
      • JAXA/ASF/NESDIS MOU: ASF will process and provide 1800 NRT SAR imagers/yr within Alaska station mask
  • NASA/NOAA/JAXA/ASF Agreement
      • NOAA/JAXA MOU designates ASF as the Americas Data Node
  • U.S. Government PALSAR Data Consortium
      • JAXA authorized distribution of ALOS data through regional nodes
      • ASF Station mask to offer NRT processed data @ $125 per scene
      • US government PALSAR data consortium could lower cost and enable sharing of data amongst government agencies and sponsored researchers.
      •  A shared cost of $450K/yr for 11,000 scenes/yr would cost about $41/scene (compared to $125/scene).
      • A shared NOAA partnership investment could enable cost effective purchase additional Alaska data, Great Lakes and other NIC SAR required data.


Although data becomes operational in 2007, it is still uncertain how accurate L-band data will be for winter ice imaging

proposed initiatives for future sar access
Proposed Initiatives for Future SAR Access


The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has approved funding to extend operation of the RADARSAT-1 (R-1) satellite throughout the International Polar Year (IPY) to March 2009

Concern: For Research use only

Craig Dobson (NASA) and Eric Madsen (NOAA) currently pursuing a R-1 Extension Agreement with CSA which addresses USA contribution (downlink and ground station assets) for the continued operating of R-1 through IPY.

ISSUE: Basic language designates Non-Operational use only

Announcements of Opportunities/Demo Projects

- Work on International Cooperative Agreements to Acquire Data from Future SAR Satellites

- Federal Government/Private Industry Ventures

- NOAA Partnerships

Issue: No guaranteed operational Data obtained without additional investment funds


FY 06 RS-1 Data Use via RadarSat-1 MOU

Gatineau, Canada for NSF

Fairbanks, Alaska


Gatineau, Canada thru CIS and NOAA

Exchange Agreement (Great Lakes Region)

  • 8875


2006 Total: 8922 SCW Frames


FY 07 RS-1 Data Use (Naval Ice Center mission)

Via NGA*

Gatineau, Canada

Tromso, Norway



*NGA funded for images to cover of the East Arctic, Greenland, Yellow Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, and Sea of Japan

Total Funding:

FY 07 (June 2006 – August 2007) - $5.8

FY08 (September 2007 – August 2008) - $8.2

2006 Total: 3144 SCW Frames

nic sar usage

Focused Area Analyses

Fixed locations such as ports, harbors, river mouths, channels and sounds

Large Area Analysis

Global Ice monitoring for maritime and land-based operations, transits, and search and rescue operations

Area Mapping

SAR is beneficial for ice climatology, which can be added to area maps

Area Feature & Surface Type Identification

In Polar areas, ice can be present on a permanent, seasonal or temporary scale

Ice can affect the availability of piers, channels and freeways

Fast ice and large ice floes can also be used tactically as roads or landing sites

Flood Assessment & Mitigation Support

Ice can cause "ice jams" that effectively dam rivers and cause flooding

sar usage
SAR Usage

Sea ice, Iceberg & Obstacle Detection

Sea ice analysis and forecasting is critical to submarine, icebreaking, ice transiting, and on-ice operations

Sea ice monitoring on a regular basis provides a database for climatology studies

Pollution Assessment & Mitigation Support

SAR is capable of detecting pollution events such as oil spills or large scale oil dumps in the open ocean

nic sar imaging requirements
NIC SAR Imaging Requirements

NIC uses primarily ScanSAR Wide for scale analysis. Occasionally, the NIC requires higher resolution imagery for tactical scale analysis and Iceberg detection.

The examples below are based on Radarsat 1 specifications:

ScanSAR Wide

100 meter nominal spatial resolution

500 X 500 km swath width

ScanSAR Narrow

50 meter nominal spatial resolution

300 X 300 km swath width


30 meter nominal spatial resolution

100 X 100 km swath width


30 meter nominal spatial resolution

300 X 300 km swath width