As International Polar Year (IPY) kicks off on February 26, 2007, a new European project will make a significant contribution to the IPY objective of better understanding polar regions. Polar View, funded by the European Space Agency, offers a unique satellite-based service designed to help Europeans identify the impacts of environmental/ human pressures and guide appropriate responses.
Using remote sensing technology, data about ice and snow conditions is gathered and analyzed by an experienced network of experts. Detailed information is then delivered, around-the-clock, to a diverse group of over 40 international users. These include government agencies, research institutes, commercial interests and northern residents. Polar View services are currently offered free of charge. Most are available in near-real time and easily accessible via the Internet.
«Having this sort of monitoring system is essential if we are going to be able to make the right decisions about environment, security and climate in the future,» said Mark Doherty of the European Space Agency.
Earth observation technologies have long been used to monitor the earth’s weather conditions. But this is the first time services have been offered comprehensively by a network of the world’s leading cryospheric remote-sensing experts. Polar View service providers are located in nine countries with a management team in each significant polar region — Antarctic, Euro-Arctic, Baltic and North America. Services can be customized to meet user’s needs.
Polar View’s contribution to IPY is in collaboration with the world’s national ice services. The project, called Polar View: Polar Information Centre (IPY Activity ID 372) will build on the Polar View network and infrastructure. A dedicated web portal will be developed in conjunction with the International Ice Charting Working Group to distribute sea ice information to IPY investigators. Polar View will also offer its integrated monitoring and forecasting services to support scientific expeditions and national science programs operating in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
«The use of satellites is becoming increasingly important as marine traffic increases, particularly in the Baltic Sea area and Southern Ocean,» said Thomas Puestow, Polar View’s Manager. «Our services provide safe and efficient transportation routes for merchant vessels, icebreakers and cruise ships or guide fishing and hunting expeditions for northern residents. We can improve flood protection, help with water resource management and track sources of pollution, to name a few.»
Detailed information, a full list of team members, high-resolution photos and video clips are available for download at: