The Contribution of Space Technologies to Arctic Policy Priorities
may be employed and determine optimal windows for response, while ensuring the safety of first responders.
Science – Gravity science satellite missions are applicable to climate change due to their contribution to the definition of the geoid as a reference for measurements of sea level change and ice dynamics. 2.2.3 Biodiversity Signs are evident that climate change is impacting Arctic species, with polar bear, reindeer and caribou, and shorebirds in decline in the High Arctic. Complex interactions between climate change and other factors (e.g., contaminants, habitat fragmentation, industrial development, and unsustainable harvest levels) have the potential to magnify impacts on biodiversity. The importance of biodiversity conservation is explicitly mentioned by most Arctic nations in their policies. Communications – By tagging animals, such as polar bears and reindeer, with tiny location transmitters, researchers can monitor their movements and study the impacts of the changes taking place in the Arctic. Navigation – GNSS, in conjunction with satellite-based communications, help in the monitoring of wildlife populations using animal tags. Positioning information is also used in mapping wildlife habitats. Earth Observation – Combining information about the known habitat requirements of species with land cover derived from satellite imagery, scientists can estimate potential species ranges and patterns of species richness. 2.2.4 Environmental Protection Environmental protection is particularly critical in the Arctic because the region is highly sensitive to pollution and its human population and culture is heavily dependent on the health of the region’s ecosystems. In 1991, the Arctic nations approved the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy , and protection of the environment and conservation of vulnerable species is a policy priority for the majority of Arctic nations and the European Union. Earth Observation – EO is used to help monitor regulatory compliance, such as fishing quotas, and environmental remediation, such as at mine sites. EO is also used for monitoring and tracking atmospheric pollution and trace gases. This is of particular relevance to the Arctic, which receives contaminant deposits via the long range transport of pollutants from southern latitudes. 2.3 Sustainable Economic Development 2.3.1 Resource Development Economicdevelopment isamong themainpolicyprioritiesof all the Arctic states in question, as well as the European Union. Generally this refers to exploitation of natural resources; both renewable resources such as fisheries and forestry, and non-renewable ones, particularly hydrocarbon energy and mineral resources. There are also growing economic activities such as tourism and shipping. Throughout these policies and national strategies, there is a consistent focus on the sustainable use of natural resources in what is clearly recognized as a fragile environment.
Navigation – GNSS is used during response and recovery efforts for navigation and for the production of real-time mapping of the affected areas in support of the response work. Earth Observation – EO imagery is used during the planning and response phases of the disaster management cycle. EO can provide detailed information about the extent of the disaster, the type of damage that has occurred, and the areas most severely impacted. 2.2 Environment 2.2.1 Pollution Air and water pollution and soil contamination are expected to become much more significant problems as the Arctic region becomes more industrialized and marine transportation through Arctic waters becomes commonplace. Dealing with pollution in the Arctic is referenced in most of the Arctic nations’ policies. Navigation – GNSS has a role to play in the reduction of pollution since navigation with the use of GNSS is much more accurate, routing is more efficient and aircraft and vessels consume less fuel and release fewer pollutants into the atmosphere. Earth Observation – Radar EO is particularly suitable for oil spill detection and monitoring. Multispectral EO is useful for monitoring vegetation stress, algal blooms and variations in water sediment loads that may result from pollution of land and water from mineral extraction, industrial activities and increased human habitation close to water bodies. EO is also useful for regulatory compliance monitoring (e.g., mine rehabilitation and discharge of pollutants). 2.2.2. Climate Change Climate change is credited as the reasons for the most dramatic changes taking place in the Arctic, including melting of ice sheets, sea ice, glaciers and permafrost, changes in vegetation, and biodiversity impacts. The effect of these changes on the Arctic region and its people are widespread. Climate change is mentioned in the policies of almost all Arctic nations and the European Union. Communications – Satellite communications have a key role to play in the remote access and delivery of data from automated in-situ monitoring stations in the Arctic. Weather – Satellite-based time series of surface temperature, tropospheric and stratospheric measurements are used in the calibration and validation of climate models. Meteorological satellites are also monitoring the atmospheric Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), particularly the surface and upper-air elements. Navigation – The application of GNSS in the climate change context is limited to its use for positioning of in situ sensors that are collecting weather and climate data. Earth Observation – Satellite imaging is the primary means for monitoring and measuring the major changes on land and water that are attributed to climate change.
Communications – In the resource development context, high bandwidth is particularly critical for the transmission
CONTRIBUTION OF SPACE TECHNOLOGIES TO ARCTIC POLICY PRIORITIES 12
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