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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA's Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment


Natural Resources Canada - Canada Center for Remote Sensing

Yvan Desy
Director, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, NRCan

The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) is part of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), one of Canada’s federal government departments. For over forty years, CCRS has developed and advanced the use of remote sensing and earth observation data on behalf of the government of Canada.  CCRS houses the largest centralized earth observation research and development group within the federal government, focusing on exploiting visible, infrared and synthetic aperture radar data.  The Centre’s activities advance several national priorities including safety, security, sovereignty, stewardship, responsible resource development, economic development and environmental assessment and monitoring systems.

Canada’s arctic territories are experiencing rapid environmental changes alongside with an exponential increase in development activities and opportunities. Given the sparse population, limited infrastructure, and expansive landmass of these territories, there are strong needs for effective earth observation based research in Canada’s North. CCRS works closely with territorial partners to address these needs. Presently, a number of specific activities are underway or planned within the north and provide opportunities for collaborations:

  • Monitoring the Dynamics of Arctic Freshwater Hydrology (surface water, permafrost, lake/river ice) through PolInSAR 
  • Characterizing Canada's Arctic Landmass with Baseline Earth Observation Data for
  • Remote Predictive Mapping
  • Modelling and mapping permafrost dynamics and change with climate using remote sensing and field observations
  • Examining Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Applications in Canada's Arctic
  • Characterizing Regional Terrestrial and Water Changes Using Trend Analysis
  • Baseline information of caribou habitats and impacts of resource development in Northwest Territories using remote sensing data and ground observations
  • Cutting Edge Technologies for Improving Remote Predictive Mapping of Canada's North (GEM-02)
  • Terrestrial Snow Cover Mapping over Canada
  • Water cycle and water budgets from remote sensing
  • Continuity of MODIS Clear-sky Composites and Albedo Arctic Mapping using VIIRS/SNPP
  • Change detection of man-made structures using high-resolution satellite imagery

Additionally, baseline data describing the long term characteristics of change in Canada’s north can be derived from Canada’s national scale Long Term Satellite Data Records – a comprehensive suite of 10-day cloud free image composites and derived value added products produced at coarse resolutions (250m – 1km) from a variety of satellites (principally AVHRR and MODIS) covering 1985 to the present.

Principally, CCRS’ activities in the north focus on providing essential geographic information and facilitating responsible resource development. Those currently underway contribute to a variety of Canadian initiatives (i.e. Canadian High-Arctic Research Station, Government of Northwest Territories’ Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program, Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals 2, etc.).  The objectives of ABoVE are highly synergistic with those of CCRS, thus affording strong possibilities for US/Canadian collaboration.