Oct 16, 2013

Opportunities and Challenges from Melting Arctic Icecap discussed at CEOI Challenge Workshop

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

Observations from satellites (IceSat and CryoSat II) have shown that the annual minimum of Arctic sea ice cover is shrinking, both in extent year on year, and possibly in thickness and volume. If warming trends continue, as is likely, we may see ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next decade. This will create both commercial opportunities and environmental threats. The opportunities include:

• New northerly sea routes between Russia, Europe, Canada, the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Bering Strait, and on to the Pacific;
• Opportunities for resource extraction including oil and gas reserves in the Arctic basin bordering the Arctic states.
• Opportunities for fisheries as species retreat to colder Arctic waters.

While the environmental threats include:

• Changing local and global weather patterns;
• Loss of habitat for wildlife;
• Threats to indigenous peoples;
• Safety of life issues;
• Pollution of the pristine polar environment.

The Centre for EO Instrumentation (CEOI) in conjunction with the Satellite Applications Catapult held a workshop on the ‘Challenges for Exploitation of the Arctic Polar Region’ in Harwell to discuss these issues and the potential role of Earth observation in addressing them. The workshop discussed the challenges of providing satellite services at very high latitudes and the implications these have for the future space missions and satellite design.

Full details of the presentations used in this fascinating discussion can be found at http://www.ceoi.ac.uk/. If you are interested in discussing further the challenges of satellite services in the polar arctic region, please contact the CEOI Director, Professor Mick Johnson: Tel: +44 (0)1438 774421 or email: mick.johnson@astrium.eads.net.

Notes to Editors:

The Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation (CEOI) is a catalyst for the development of technologies for environmental and security monitoring from space. The CEOI was created in 2007 and is funded by the UK Space Agency and industry. The Centre has a key aim to develop the next generation of Earth observation instrumentation through the teaming of scientists and industrialists and the funding of leading edge projects. These projects reflect the imperatives associated with monitoring of climate change and the environment – investing in clearly identified gaps in instrumentation requirements, thus maximizing impacts of UK developed technologies in European programmes. The CEOI is led by Astrium Ltd, in partnership with the University of Leicester, Science and Technology Facilities Council / Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and QinetiQ Ltd. www.ceoi.ac.uk
The Satellite Applications Catapult is an independent innovation and technology company, created to foster growth across the economy through the exploitation of space. It helps organisations make use of and benefit from satellite technologies, and brings together multi-disciplinary teams to generate ideas and solutions in an open innovation environment. The Satellite Applications Catapult is one of a network of centres established by the Technology Strategy Board to accelerate the take up of emerging technologies and drive economic growth.  A not for profit company, it provides facilities, platforms and expert knowledge to enable the translation of ideas from concept to market. www.sa.catapult.org.uk