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LAKE ICE MONITORING
Polar View's lake ice monitoring service delivers EO-derived information about the location and extent of ice covers to decision makers in near real-time. This information is typically used in conjunction with other data sources to assess the level of threat posed by the freezing and melting. The freeze-up and the break-up dates are an indicator of the impact climate change is having on the environment.
As a result of global warming, the difficulties that a shorter or more unpredictable ice season brings to isolated northern communities have become a recent concern. There are a number of factors that contribute to the duration of ice cover, including precipitation, wind, sunshine, and various attributes of the water body itself, such as size and characteristics of its currents. The timing of ice break-up in the spring is more variable because the amount of snow cover and coldness of the preceding winter also play a role. Air temperature affects both the freeze-up and the break-up dates, changes in the timing of these events allow for a good reflection of trends in temperatures.
Presence and thickness of lake ice has a significant impact on fish ecology, particularly in terms of over-wintering habitats for certain species. The Lake Ice Service team of Hatfield Consultants Ltd. will be focussing its efforts on studying the dynamics of the ice in lakes and rivers of two study sites in Ungava Bay, Northern Quebec. The Payne River on the west and George River on the eastern side of the bay are two of the main habitats for Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus) in the region, providing nutrition and livelihoods to local Inuit communities. The formation and thickness of ice in specific rivers and lakes in these two areas has a significant impact on the existence and sustainable harvesting of arctic char as large quantities of char over-winter in the lakes, migrating to the sea in the summer.
Hatfield Consultants Ltd. are working with the Nunavik Research Centre of the Makivik Corporation to develop appropriate EO-based geo-information products that can be integrated with existing Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to be more effective in understanding and sustainably managing these ecosystems and resources. Furthermore, the extent and nature of the impacts of climate change in this region are still not fully understood. The long-term possibilities of year-to-year monitoring of ice presence and thickness are also being explored in order to address the information needs of managers and scientists monitoring the effects of climate change.
A schematic representation of the Service Chain for the Lake Ice Service
Jeffries, M.O., K. Morris, W.F. Weeks and H. Wakabayashi. 1994. Structural-Stratigraphic Features and ERS-1 SAR Backscatter Characteristics of Ice Growing on Shallow Lakes in N.W. Alaska, Winter 1991-92. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99(C11): 22459-22471.
Kozlenko, N. and M. O. Jeffries. 2000. Bathymetric mapping of shallow water in thaw lakes on the North Slope of Alaska with spaceborne imaging radar. Arctic, 53(3), 306-316.
Duguay, C.R., T.J. Pultz, P.M. Lafleur, and D. Drai. 2002. RADARSAT Backscatter Characteristics of Ice Growing on Shallow Sub-Arctic Lakes, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Hydrological Processes 16:1631-1644.
Duguay, C.R. and P.M. Lafleur. 2003. Estimating Depth and Ice Thickness of Shallow Subarctic Lakes using Spaceborne Optical and SAR Data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 24: 475-489.