The melting of the Arctic ice has opened up many areas of interest for oil and gas, fishing and transportation. However, not all ships or rigs in these areas have the capacity to deal with moving ice. They try to avoid ice by staying just outside the ice edge, but ice movements result in damage to vessels and Search and Rescue operations that could have been avoided. Monitoring the ice edge and forecasting its movement is therefore of great importance for these operations.

Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), in cooperation with University of Sheffield, has developed an algorithm to quickly detect the edge between open and safe water, and drifting ice, based on SAR imagery. This information is available in a compact format less than 15 minutes after image acquisition. When taking into account transfer to the ship, the user receives information on the ice edge that is only 30 minutes old. The ice charts created by national ice services are based on information that can be several hours old, and are only updated on a daily basis.

As ships and oil rigs operate near the ice edge, they can rely on this ice edge to get fast, accurate and frequently updated information about its location and movement. The ice edge product has been tested and approved in multiple environments including the Barents Sea, the Fram Strait and the Kara Sea, and has proven to be of use for fishing vessels and oil companies operating in or near the ice edge.

This paper will describe the generation of the ice edge product, and the validation of the ice edge created by KSAT in the Fram Strait, around Svalbard, and near the Kara Sea. The validation has been performed internally, based on statistical comparison of the ice edge product with the Arctic marginal ice zone created by the National Ice Center in the U.S. Further validation will be performed with higher resolution ice charting products from the local meteorological offices.

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