Sea ice investigations in the Laptev Sea area in late summer using SAR data
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The Laptev Sea area, including the Vilkitsky Strait, is an important part of the Northern Sea Route where the presence of sea ice makes navigation difficult even in the summer season. The objective of this study was therefore to demonstrate and validate the capability of SAR imagery to provide accurate ice information to support ice navigation, which is most important in late summer in this region. An experiment was set up in August-September 1997 with joint use of RADARSAT and ERS-2 SAR images combined with SSM/I data in situ observations from icebreakers. These data were used to analyze ice concentration, ice types, ice drift and other ice features present in this period. The capability of RADARSAT ScanSAR and ERS SAR images to determine these ice parameters during late summer conditions in the Laptev Sea area is discussed. The Laptev Sea as well as other parts of the Northern Sea Route are expected to become important areas for future oil and gas exploration and exploitation, which will increase the demand for SAR ice monitoring to support ice navigation, drilling and other offshore operations.