As climate change continues to be an increasingly pressing issue, the Canadian Space Agency, in collaboration with the Alaska Satellite Facility, MDA, NASA, and Natural Resources Canada, is making an unprecedented number of RADARSAT-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of Earth freely available to researchers, industry and the public. The 674,000 historical images are a significant increase to the 36,000 images already publicly available through the Government of Canada’s Earth Observation Data Management System.
Generating the world’s longest timespan of SAR data as Canada’s first Earth observation satellite, RADARSAT-1 has already provided essential information to government, scientists and commercial users. But there is still more to uncover.
Comparisons of these unique images from RADARSAT-1’s 17 years of operation are invaluable for climate change research through features such as sea ice cover, seasonal changes and climate change effects, particularly in Canada’s North. Beyond climate change, the data is also applicable to geology, coastal monitoring, agriculture, disaster management, monitoring land use changes over time and more. Historical images of volcanos and earthquakes can show land deformation over time. Ocean water imagery can reveal historical events such as glacier calving and storms. In agriculture, images have helped with identifying crops, assessing moisture content, and predicting crop yields. They have also played a key role in responding to floods, oil spills, earthquakes, landslides and volcanic activity.
This image release initiative is part of Canada’s Open Government efforts to encourage novel Big Data Analytic and machine learning activities by users. It also aligns with Canada’s Space Strategy, which prioritizes acquiring and using space-based data to support science excellence, innovation and economic growth.
Image Credit: CSA. © Canadian Space Agency