IJG  Vol.4 No.7 , September 2013
Sea Ice Observations in Polar Regions: Evolution of Technologies in Remote Sensing

Evolution of remote sensing sensors technologies is presented, with emphasis on its suitability in observing the polar regions. The extent of influence of polar regions on the global climate and vice versa is the spearhead of climate change research. The extensive cover of sea ice has major impacts on the atmosphere, oceans, and terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the polar regions in particular and teleconnection on other processes elsewhere. Sea ice covers vast areas of the polar oceans, ranging from ~18 × 106 km2 to ~23 × 106 km2, combined for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. However, both polar regions are witnessing contrasting rather contradicting effects of climate change. The Arctic sea ice extent is declining at a rate of 0.53 × 106 km2·decade–1, whereasAntarcticaexhibits a positive trend at the rate of 0.167 × 106 km2·decade–1. This work reviews literature published in the field of sea ice remote sensing, to evaluate and access success and failures of different sensors to observe physical features of sea ice. The chronological development series of different sensors on different satellite systems, sensor specifications and datasets are examined and how they have evolved to meet the growing needs of users is outlined. Different remote sensing technology and observational methods and their suitability to observe specific sea ice property are also discussed. A pattern has emerged, which shows that microwave sensors are inherently superior to visible and infrared in monitoring seasonal and annual changes in sea ice. Degree of successes achieved through remote sensing techniques by various investigators has been compared. Some technologies appear to work better under certain conditions than others, and it is now well accepted that there is no algorithm that is ideal globally. Contribution of Indian remote sensing satellites is also reviewed in the context of polar research. This review suggests different primary datasets for further research on sea ice features (sea ice extent, ice type, sea ice thickness, etc.). This work also examines past achievements and how far these capabilities have evolved and tap into current state of art/direction of sensor technologies. Effective monitoring and syntheses of past few decades of research pinpoint useful datasets for sea ice monitoring, thereby avoiding wastage of resources to find practical datasets to monitor these physically inaccessible regions.

Cite this paper
P. Teleti and A. Luis, "Sea Ice Observations in Polar Regions: Evolution of Technologies in Remote Sensing," International Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 4 No. 7, 2013, pp. 1031-1050. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2013.47097.
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