Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products

Committee on the Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products

Committee on Climate, Energy, and National Security

Polar Research Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu



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Committee on the Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products Committee on Climate, Energy, and National Security Polar Research Board Division on Earth and Life Studies THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS • 500 Fifth Street, N.W. • Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the United States intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the intelligence community. International Standard Book Number-13:978-0-309-13763-8 International Standard Book Number-10:0-309-13763-2 Copies of this report are available from the program office: Polar Research Board 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3512 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON THE SCIENTIFIC VALUE OF ARCTIC SEA ICE IMAGERY DERIVED PRODUCTS STEPHANIE PFIRMAN (Chair), Barnard College, New York City, New York HAJO EICKEN, University of Alaska, Fairbanks THORSTEN MARKUS, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland WALTER MEIER, University of Colorado, Boulder NORBERT UNTERSTEINER, University of Washington, Seattle NRC Staff CURTIS H. MARSHALL, Study Director KATIE WELLER, Research Associate SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant v

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COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE, ENERGY, AND NATIONAL SECURITY RALPH J. CICERONE (Chair), National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C. RICHARD B. ALLEY, Pennsylvania State University, State College WILLIAM L. CHAMEIDES, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina RUTH S. DEFRIES, Columbia University, New York City, New York LEON FUERTH, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. PETER H. GLEICK, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California DALE W. JORGENSON, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts PAMELA A. MATSON, Stanford University, Stanford, California MICHAEL B. MCELROY, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts WILLIAM H. SCHLESINGER, Cary Institute, Millbrook, New York ROBERT T. WATSON, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England R. JAMES WOOLSEY, VantagePoint Venture Partners, San Bruno, California NRC Staff CURTIS H. MARSHALL, Program Director KATIE WELLER, Research Associate RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator vi

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POLAR RESEARCH BOARD JAMES WHITE (Chair), University of Colorado, Boulder JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE, University of Massachusetts, Amherst DAVID BROMWICH, The Ohio State University, Columbus SVEN D. HAAKANSON, Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, Alaska AMY LAUREN LOVECRAFT, University of Alaska, Fairbanks MOLLY MCCAMMON, Alaska Ocean Observing System, Anchorage SAMUEL B. MUKASA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor STEPHANIE PFIRMAN, Barnard College, New York City, New York JOHN PRISCU, Montana State University, Bozeman VLADIMIR ROMANOVSKY, University of Alaska, Fairbanks JAMES W. ROONEY, R&M Consultants, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska KONRAD STEFFEN, CIRES, Boulder, Colorado JAMES SWIFT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California ALLAN T. WEATHERWAX, Siena College, Loudonville, New York Ex-Officio Members: JACKIE GREBMEIER, University of Tennessee, Knoxville MAHLON C. KENNICUTT II, Texas A&M University, College Station TERRY WILSON, The Ohio State University, Columbus NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Board Director MARTHA MCCONNELL, Associate Program Officer LAUREN BROWN, Research Assistant AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant vii

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Preface During the 1990s, a program called Medea brought together environmental scientists and members of the intelligence community to consider how classified assets and data could be applied to further the understanding of environmental change. As part of the Medea program, collection of overhead classified imagery of sea ice at four sites around the Arctic basin was initiated in 1999, and two additional sites were added in 2005. Collection of images during the summer months at these six locations has continued until the present day. Several hundred unclassified images with a nominal resolution of 1 meter have been derived from the classified images collected at the 6 Arctic sites. To assist in the process of making the unclassified derived imagery more widely useful, the National Research Council convened the Committee on the Scientific Value of Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products, which met in Seattle, Washington, December 11-12, 2008, to review the derived images and consider their potential uses for scientific research (see Statement of Task; Appendix A). In this report, we explore the importance of sea ice in the Arctic and illustrate the types of information – often unique in its detail – that the derived images could contribute to the scientific discussion. The Committee based its scientific analysis of the dataset on our review of a representative subset of the derived images for each of the six sites. The images were displayed to us during the December 2008 meeting by Ron Kwok, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who had been engaged by the NRC staff to preview and sort all available images prior to our meeting. We thank Dr. Kwok for facilitating our review of the dataset. We also thank the NRC staff for facilitating the committee process and the production of this report. We look forward to the release of the derived imagery dataset and the results of the scientific research it enables. Sincerely, Stephanie Pfirman, chair Committee on the Scientific Value of Arctic Sea-Ice Imagery Derived Products ix

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Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Dr. Richard B. Alley, Pennsylvania State University, State College Dr. Florence Fetterer, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado Dr. Jacqueline M. Grebmeier, University of Maryland, College Park Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dr. Mary R. Albert, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution. xi

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Contents SUMMARY ................................................................................................................ 1 Recommendations..................................................................................................... 2 Considerations for the Future................................................................................... 4 1 SEA ICE AND THE GLOBAL CLIMATE SYSTEM .................................................. 5 The Importance of Sea Ice ........................................................................................ 5 Arctic Sea Ice in Interactive Climate Models ........................................................... 6 2 POTENTIAL USES OF THE MEDEA DATA SET ...................................................11 Uses of the LIDPs: Sea Ice Physical Processes ....................................................... 12 Complementing Civilian and Commercial Available Datasets .............................. 19 3 RECOMMENDATIONS .......................................................................................... 21 Dissemination Priorities ......................................................................................... 21 Considerations for the Future.................................................................................24 REFERENCES .........................................................................................................26 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task ................................................................................................ 31 B Acronyms and Initialisms.................................................................................... 32 C Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff .................................. 33 xiii

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