Abstract

This paper presents a methodology of iceberg monitoring for Arctic Seas. Indeed, oil/gas operations and seismic surveys are challenging in these areas, when icebergs drifting in the operation areas constitute major hazards.

The proposed Icebergs Monitoring Service is based on spaceborne radar technologies for iceberg detection, numerical modeling for icebergs drifting, and GIS/web map server for the visualization of the ice reports. The idea is to provide on a regular basis an Icebergs Situation Map giving the icebergs’ location in real time and in a few days forecast. Different levels of surveillance apply around the location of interest, depending upon the proximity of icebergs location with sensitive areas or infrastructures [from surveillance mode by using altimetry and medium-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery every 2–3 days, to critical mode with late or fast 24h programming service of high resolution SAR images activated].

A dedicated processing chain collects the information on icebergs observations (altimetry, radar, in situ), acquires the necessary metocean data in due time, and runs the drift model in order to forecast the icebergs positions. The iceberg drift model, the so-called MOBIDRIFT, is able to model the advection, thawing, rolling over, and dislocation. All the results (from altimetry and radar analyses, model prediction) are then exported to a GIS to allow further analyses from an expert or visualization for the end-users.

These technologies have proven their efficiency in the Antarctic seas at several occasions (e.g. yacht race Vendée Globe 2012). The adaptation of the methodologies to the Arctic conditions is fully explained (radar capabilities for small iceberg detection, detection in icy waters…). In particular, the iceberg/vessel identification is of high importance: the use of ARGOS/Iridium and satellite AIS systems for vessel monitoring is also outlined.

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