Foto: Mikhail Nilov, Pexels

New insights in monitoring the Arctic from space

Two review articles were recently published, both focusing on satellite observation of the Arctic, what we have learned from it, what we still don’t know, and how we will better exploit data from new satellite sensors in the future. 

Warming in the Arctic is occurring faster and stronger than in other regions in the world. This is called Arctic amplification, and knowing as much as we can about it is crucial to mitigate the changes following from it. The Arktalas Hoavva project – led by the Nansen Center, funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), and finalized in 2023 – set out to identify and remove knowledge gaps of changes in the Arctic using remote sensing data , as well as to improve the understanding of the three main components of Arctic climate and their interactions: sea ice, atmosphere, and ocean.

The first publication, Esau et al. 2023, focuses on Arctic amplification and satellite observations of the phenomenon. Satellite observations have captured many details of this process, proving to be vital to understand what is happening. Ground-based measurements are very sparse in the Arctic region, making satellites the only tool to monitor this remote region reliably. The authors summarize the key contributions they have gained from using remote sensing to understand and characterise Arctic amplification, such as the changes in multi-year ice (ice that survives more than one melt season), changes in phytoplankton, and effects it has on human activity and infrastructure. ESA satellite missions continue to contribute to monitoring Arctic amplification, and longer monitoring time series will be necessary going forward.

The second publication, Lucas et al. 2023, builds on this train of thought and describes the knowledge gaps that exist in observing the Arctic – the authors identify the current limitations satellite missions focusing on the Arctic have. They also give an overview of satellite missions and applications monitoring polar regions, with a focus on European satellites. Last but not least, they describe how future satellite missions will impact further – improved – monitoring of the changes in the Arctic region.

Bruk av arktisk overvåking med satellitter

Overvåking av Arktis fra verdensrommet har vært ekstremt verdifull for å identifisere og forstå endringer, og dette vil fortsette å være tilfelle, med nåværende og fremtidige ESA-oppdrag som produserer en enorm mengde data fra disse sårbare avsidesliggende områdene.


Remote Sensing:
«The Arctic Amplification and Its Impact: A Synthesis through Satellite Observations»


Remote Sensing:
«Knowledge Gaps and Impact of Future Satellite Missions to Facilitate Monitoring of Changes in the Arctic Ocean»