April 30, 2010
Polar View in the Antarctic region recently launched an enhanced interpreted ice chart service. This service compiles data from a variety of different sources to provide ice charts at a much higher resolution that are updated more frequently than those previously available.
Since the beginning of March, Polar View’s Antarctic node website has been offering a new service: interpreted ice charts for the Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea region, put together by the Ice Service at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. While other ice charts for the region have been available before, Polar View’s new interpreted ice charts are at a much higher resolution and updated more frequently than those previously available.
Catering in particular to research vessels and supply ships heading to the research stations in the area as well as Antarctic tourist ships, Polar View collects a broad range of Earth observation data to make the ice charts. Once collected, a team of experts interprets the data to create an easy-to-read ice chart. Collecting the data and providing an interpreted product makes things easier for end users.
According to Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey, Polar View’s Antarctic Node Manager, the new service “provides an interpreted picture of what the ice types are and their distribution, rather than leaving users to have to interpret various different products themselves.”
The Norwegian Ice Service, which puts the ice charts together for Polar View, uses a variety of sources of data, including high-resolution passive microwave and SAR (synthetic aperture radar) data from AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth observing system) and ENVISAT ASAR (Advanced SAR) supplemented by MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) optical data whenever possible.
The service currently provides updated ice charts once per week, and will continue to do so until the very end of the Antarctic season in May. The service will start up again in late September at the start of next year’s Antarctic season.