Measuring Ice Properties with Helicopter-borne Instrumentation

Objectives

Knowledge of sea ice properties is essential for safe navigation by fishing and commercial vessels and those involved in offshore oil and gas exploration as well as design and maintenance of offshore structures. Climatological variation of ice properties is integral to climate change and long-term knowledge of sea ice properties greatly enhances our understanding of this phenomenon.

Optical and radar satellite imagery provide information on concentrations of ice types and on ridging, but does not provide absolute ice thicknesses and the interpretation of imagery is often ambiguous. Fixed-wing aircraft and video cameras on helicopters provide concentration and surface roughness estimates, but precise measurements and positioning in real-time are lacking.

The advent of 1) an EM-induction system for measuring ice thickness from a helicopter-towed device; 2) a snow and ice thickness radar system for real-time snow and freshwater ice thickness measurements; and 3) a video-laser-GPS system for accurate measures of roughness and concentration.

Data Collection

All the new systems for measuring ice properties are currently being operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as support to the Icebreaking Branch of the Canadian Coast Guard. The funding for instrument development was supplied by the Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD) of Natural Resources Canada. The measurement systems are meant to be mounted or towed on or from a helicopter for data recording while in flight. The helicopter-borne systems can be used individually or paired. All systems log the data on computers and show some real-time data in-flight to ensure that data are being logged. At base camp, the data can be processed quickly and e-mailed, as plots, to otehr users.

Instruments

EM system (Ice Probe) used since 1996.

The EM system (called the Ice Probe) is housed in a cylindrical package called a "bird". The ice probe's technology is based on electromagnetic (EM) induction using frequencies ranging from 1-100 kHz. The instrument is similar to systems which have been used for several decades in mineral exploration.

Since 1999, it is used with the video sensor. All flights were designed to measure the properties of ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with experiments to validate satellite imagery, off the coast of Labrador in 1996.

video-laser-GPS system (Video Sensor System)

The video-laser-GPS system (Video Sensor System) is mounted on a skid of the helicopter in its own pod which contains the downward-looking video camera. The pod, of course, would be mounted on the skid opposite to the radar system's if the latter were to be mounted concurrently. Video frames are captured in real-time and can be mosaiked to provide information on ice type, concentration, and ridging. Surface roughness is provided by a laser altimeter also located in the pod.

EISFlow<sup>TM</sup>, is attached to the front of the helicopter

A second EM sensor was developed to measure sea ice thickness as a fix-mount instrument. This new sensor, called EISFlowTM, is attached to the front of the helicopter. The sensor was tested during the February/March 2001 ice season in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The system has been used annually in the soutehrn Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the Labrador coast in 2009 and in the Beaufort Sea in 2004, 2008, and 2009.

snow and ice thickness radar system

The snow and ice thickness radar system was originally designed to be an additional sensor to the ice probe but there was interference of the Radar signal with the EM signal. Now the Radar is hard-mounted on the skid gear of the helicopter in a "pod". This allows simultaneous sampling of ice thickness and snow depth along the same flight paths.

Other data

Since March 1996, the Ice Probe and IcePic have been used in experiments in the Gulf of St.Lawrence, in the Canadian Beaufort Sea, and off the Labrador coast to validate sea ice signatures seen in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images from Canada's satellite, RADARSAT, and to demonstrate how the ice probe could be used to help interpret RADARSAT imagery.

Results

Related Projects

Related Publications

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  • Holladay J. S. 1995. Analysis of Electromagnetic/Laser Data Over the Newfoundland Shelf
  • Peterson, I. K. and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1996. "Ice Drift and Electromagnetic Ice Thickness Measurements in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the 1996 RADARSAT Validation Experiment"
  • Prinsenberg, S. J., I. K. Peterson, and A. van der Baaren. 1996. "Comparison of Labrador Pack Ice Observations with RADARSAT Imagery during March 1996"
  • Peterson, I. K., S. J. Prinsenberg, and J. S. Holladay. 1997. "Comparison of Electromagnetic Sea Ice Thickness Measurements with RADARSAT Imagery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence"
  • Holladay, J. S., B. Lo, and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1997. "Bird Orientation Effects in Quantitative Airborne Electromagnetic Interpretation of Pack Ice Thickness Sounding"
  • Holladay, J. S., R. Moucha, and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1997. Analysis of Electromagnetic/Laser Data over the Labrador Shelf 1994
  • Lalumiere, L. 1998. "Snow and Ice Thickness Radar System"
  • Holladay, J. S., R. Z. Moucha, and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1998. Airborne Electromagnetic Sea Ice Sounding Measurements During SIMMS'95
  • Lalumiere, L. 1998. "Real-time Snow Radar System Field and Data Report"
  • Moucha, R. Z., J. S. Holladay, and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1998. Airborne Electromagnetic Sea Ice Sounder Measurements of RADARSAT Validation Project 1996
  • Prinsenberg, S. J., I. K. Peterson, and L. Lalumiere. 1998. "Contribution of RADARSAT Sub-pixel Scale Ice Properties to the SAR Backscatter"
  • Prinsenberg, S. J., I. K. Peterson, and A. Maillet. 1998. "1997 Pack Ice Properties in Northumberland Strait"
  • Holladay, J. S. and R. Moucha. 1998. Electromagnetic/Laser Ice Thickness Data from the Labrador Shelf, 1994
  • Prinsenberg, S. J., I. K. Peterson, and L. Lalumiere. 1999. "Video/Laser Helicopter Sensor to Collect Pack Ice Properties for Validation of RADARSAT SAR Backscatter Values"
  • Holladay, J. S. and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1999. Airborne Electromagnetic Sea Ice Sounding Measurements During 1997 Gulf of St. Lawrence Field Program
  • Holladay, J. S. and S. J. Prinsenberg. 1999. Airborne Electromagnetic Sea Ice Sounding Measurements During 1998 Gulf of St. Lawrence Field Program
  • Holladay, J. S. 1999. Airborne Electromagnetic Sea Ice Sounder Operational Sensitivity and Error Analysis
  • Lalumiere, L., S. Prinsenberg, and I. Peterson. 2000. "Observing Pack Ice Properties with a Helicopter-Borne Video-Laser-GPS Sensor"
  • Lalumiere, L. 2000. "Helicopter Hard-mounted Snow/Ice thickness System Field Trial Report"
  • Peterson, I. K., S. J. Prinsenberg, and J. S. Holladay. 1999. "Using a Helicopter-Borne EM-Induction System to Validate RADARSAT Sea Ice Signatures"
  • Peterson, I. K., S. J. Prinsenberg, J. S. Holladay, and L. Lalumiere. 2000. "Mapping Sea Ice Properties with a Helicopter-Borne Electromagnetic-Induction and Video System"
  • Peterson, I. K., S. J. Prinsenberg, J. S. Holladay, and L. Lalumiere. 2000. "Mapping Sea Ice Thickness with RADARSAT and a Helicopter-Borne Electromagnetic-Induction System"
  • Belliveau, D. J., H. Hayden, and S. J. Prinsenberg. 2001. "Ice Drift and Draft Measurements from Moorings at the Confederation Bridge"
  • Prinsenberg, S. J. and I. K. Peterson. 2001. "Pack Ice Thickness and Concentration Measurements from the Area Around Confederation Bridge (Canada) Using Helicopter-borne Sensors"
  • Prinsenberg, S. J., S. Holladay, and J. Lee. 2002. "Measuring Ice Thickness with EISFlowTM, a Fixed-mounted Helicopter Electromagnetic-laser System"
  • Prinsenberg, S. J. and I. K. Peterson. 2003. "Comparing ice chart parameters against ice observations"
  • Peterson, I. K., S. J. Prinsenberg, J. Hamilton, and R. Pettipas. 2008. "Variability of Oceanographic and Ice Properties of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago"
  • Lalumiere, L. and S. Prinsenberg. 2009. "Integration of a Helicopter-Based Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) with a Laser, Video and GPS System".
  • Holladay, S., S. Prinsenberg, and I. Peterson. 2010. "Measuring Arctic Nearshore Properties with a Multi-Frequency Airborne Electromagnetic Sensor".
  • Prinsenberg, S. J. and Ingrid K. Peterson. 2010. "Observing regional-scale ice-atmospheric interaction processes with helicopter-borne sensors and moored Upward Looking Sonars"