The Arctic region is in many senses a frontier environment for human activities, driven by global economic demand for resources and made possible in part by climate change. The Arctic is experiencing increasing pressure from higher levels of shipping, oil & gas exploration and tourism. Well documented changes in Arctic sea ice extent are prompting new efforts to exploit natural resources and alternative shipping routes.
ESA’s initial assessment suggests that situational awareness in Arctic regions depends on three critical applications of space technologies, namely:
- Effective communications to enable a complete virtual view of operations based on standards, compliant protocols and availability of all required data sources and information, allowing efficient and effective decision making, effectively mitigating the remoteness of the activities.
- The ability to access existing and locally forecasted met-ice-ocean conditions (including hazards) over the field of operations, and upstream where potential hazards exist for dynamic risk assessment;
- To monitor and be able to act upon the positions of all players, so that these can be deployed and monitored effectively for situational awareness, particularly in relation to efficiency and safety, emergency preparedness and compliance with relevant agreements and legislation