Lake and River Ice Fieldwork in support of PermASAR data analysis

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, lake ice, ground penetrating radar, ice cover, river ice, snow

Principal Investigator: van der Sanden, Josephus J (4)
Licence Number: 16485
Organization: Natural Resources Canada / Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation
Licensed Year(s): 2019
Issued: Jan 30, 2019
Project Team: Mr. H. Drouin

Objective(s): To conduct the PermASAR winter campaign that will support the evaluation and development of radar satellite Earth Observation technology for application to the mapping of river and lake ice processes and properties.

Project Description: This project aims to undertake fieldwork in the context of the PermASAR winter campaign. The data collected will support the evaluation and development of radar satellite Earth observation (EO) technology for application to the mapping of river and lake ice processes and properties.

The research team expect the fieldwork to take place over a period of two to three weeks in the months of February to April 2019. Time and budget constraints will likely force the team to limit the collection of field data to one of two sites identified, i.e. either the Yellowknife or Inuvik area. A helicopter will be the main means of accessing the study area. If necessary, and possible, the team may opt to use a vehicle to reach the site. Specific sampling locations will be pre-selected through interpretation of images acquired by Canada’s RADARSAT-2 satellite. At each location the research team will auger the ice to determine its ‘groundedness’ and thickness as well as extract an ice core for further analysis in an improvised cold laboratory in Yellowknife/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). Ice cover thickness will be measured along selected transects by means of a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) system that is deployed either through hand-towing or from the helicopter. In addition to ice cover data, the team will collect data on snow cover characteristics such as thickness, layering and wetness.

This project aims to develop the utility of and thus a market for satellite radar Earth observation data. NRCan’s Inuvik Satellite Station Facility (ISSF) receives this type of data. As such, this project indirectly contributes to the success of ISSF for Inuvik and the Northwest Territories.

NRCan’s ISSF initiative includes a well-developed community outreach program. The project team would be happy to explore other opportunities for involvement and training of people in Yellowknife and/or Inuvik.

Lake and river ice affect the daily lives of people residing in Canada’s North in particular. The proposed project will enable the development of radar EO based approaches to obtain up-to-date information of interest to river and lake ice stakeholders. For example, information in support of winter road management, climate change monitoring, hydraulic modelling or ice jam flood emergency management.

The results of the project will be published in journals subscribed to by most libraries. When in Inuvik, the team will make an effort to be available to meet with or give a presentation to interested community members. Moreover, the team expect to present selected results at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum. A factsheet describing the overall nature of the project is available on the NRCan website (

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from February 1, 2019 to April 30, 2019.