Ice remote sensing is a critical element of ice management for oil and gas operations in Arctic waters. Both strategic and tactical decisions related to drilling and production operations are significantly influenced by the ice detection capabilities. Common ship borne remote sensing systems today include marine radars, optical and thermal infrared sensors.
However, a range of adverse environmental factors can dramatically reduce the performance of these systems. Fog, haze, strong wind, snow and rain, waves, along with the Arctic winter nights can create challenging operating conditions. Particularly the detection of relatively small icebergs (namely growlers and bergy bits) in harsh weather conditions often arises as a hazard for marine operations.
Remote sensing technology is developing continuously. Several techniques aimed at enhancing sensor performance under poor visibility or in darkness do exist today. Active illumination for example, can be used to compensate for lacking of sufficient external light.
This paper presents a review of the current and emerging remote sensing technologies that can be applied for growlers and bergy bits detection under harsh Arctic weather conditions. The frequency range of the ice sensors studied covers parts of the electro-magnetic (EM) spectrum, which include visible light (0.38 to 0.7 µm) and infrared (IR) (0.75 µm to 15µm). Sensing technologies such as LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), hyperspectral imaging, and thermal IR image are evaluated. Promising enhancing techniques as active illumination and range-gate imaging are discussed.