Ice-breakers Navigated by Satellite Images

Near real-time commercial monitoring of the Northern Sea Route and the freezing seas of Russia is initiated in behalf of the ice-breaking operations of the FSUE Atomflot. A contract on radar satellite imagery of the ice situation ordered by the FSUE Atomflot in 2010 has been carried out by ScanEx RDC. A network of 4 ground RS data reception and processing stations of ScanEx is used for ice situation control in quasi real-time along the route from Murmansk to Vladivostok.

The first experience of operational satellite-based support of ice-breaking operations was received in this April when providing data about the nuclear-powered ice-breakers “Taimyr” and “Yamal”, following the route Murmansk-Dixon-Murmansk in the waters of the Barents and Kara Seas.

Radar images of RADARAT-1 satellite, received by the UniScan stations in Moscow and Megion, were submitted to the Headquarters of Sea Operations of the Atomflot, where further preparation of space imagery data was done. The information was then transferred via the satellite communication link onboard the ice-breakers and applied for optimization of traffic routes in the hard, icy conditions.

— Satellite data, timely delivered onboard the ships, enable to reduce the time and to increase the safety of ice channeling, – explains FSUE Atomflot Deputy General Director Andrei Smirnov.

Based on the acquired experience of the application of satellite radar data about ice conditions in the Arctic Region, time standards of ordering, processing and dissemination of data have been defined, product formats and software for their analysis have been concurred. ScanEx RDC specialist Alexander Yadykin took part in coordination of activities on interpretation and dissemination of satellite images for ice channeling through the Barents and Kara Seas during April 13-23 onboard the “Taimyr” and “Yamal” ice-breakers.

Collection and processing of RADARSAT-1 and ENVISAT-1 radar data in behalf of the FSUE Atomflot will be continued to ensure navigation safety and an efficient use of the ice-breaking fleet during summer navigation operations through the Northern Sea Route.