RADARSAT Observations of River Ice and Flood Patterns in the Mackenzie River Delta

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, glaciology, remote sensing

Principal Investigator: van der Sanden, Josephus J (4)
Licence Number: 15018
Organization: Natural Resources Canada, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2012 2010 2009
Issued: Feb 23, 2012
Project Team: Hugo Drouin (Research assistant, NRCan/CCRS), Torsten Geldsetzer (Research assistant, NRCan/CCRS)

Objective(s): To investigate and develop the potential of Canada’s RADARSAT satellite images in support of the mapping of winter ice cover characteristics, e.g. ice type, ice thickness, bottom fast vs. afloat.

Project Description: The project investigates and develops the potential of Canada’s RADARSAT satellites as a tool for the collection of information on (change in) river ice conditions and, during spring breakup, flood conditions in the Mackenzie Delta. During the upcoming year (2012), the research will focus on the application of RADARSAT images in support of the mapping of winter ice cover characteristics, e.g. ice type, ice thickness, bottom fast vs. afloat.

In a nutshell, this research involves the acquisition of radar satellite images over the Mackenzie River Delta and the analysis of these images with the help of data collected in the field. The fieldwork is planned for February-March 2012. The team intends to access selected locations in the outer delta and along the Middle Channel by means of a helicopter chartered in Inuvik. At each location the team will auger the ice to determine its ‘groundedness’ and thickness as well as extract an ice core for further analysis at the Aurora Research Institute (ARI) in Inuvik. Analysis of the core will focus on a description of layering in terms of ice types (i.e. thermal ice, snow ice, frazil ice). At selected locations, the team will also deploy a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to characterize the ice cover.

The IPY-SCARF project, now officially ended, included a well-developed community outreach program. The team of this specific radar remote sensing project would be happy to explore opportunities for local students to participate in the research. When in Inuvik, the team will make an effort to be available to meet with or give presentations to interested community members.

During winter, the life of people living in the Mackenzie River basin is affected by river ice. River ice offers benefits in the sense that it can provide road access to remote communities (e.g. Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk) and hunting/fishing grounds. At the same time, river ice represents a threat to infrastructure and communities at the time of spring breakup, in particular. The results of the proposed study will create awareness among territorial authorities and local communities re the potential of radar remote sensing data to map river ice and as such support decisions re their daily life and security in an environment affected by river ice.

The results of our work will be published in journals subscribed to by the library at the Aurora Research Institute. Following publication of results, selected related information products will be made publicly available through GEOGRATIS (an NRCan portal) or the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) website. The team will prepare a lay language poster demonstrating the work for display at the institute. When in Inuvik, the team will make an effort to be available to meet with or give a presentation to interested community members. A factsheet describing the overall project is available on the NRCan/ESS/CCRS website (http://ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca/index_e.php).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 23, 2012 to March 31, 2012.