Monday, 11 January 2016
Significant knowledge gaps of ice conditions in the Arctic have contributed to the reinsurance industry's risk adversity in insuring above 70˚North. In an effort to improve insurer's awareness, the Lloyd's of London are leading efforts to develop an Ice Regime that would link the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) Polar Class Rules with distinct geographical areas based on ice conditions. This Ice Regime would be used as part of the Polar Code, being developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to provide guidance on Best Practices for where and when a vessel can operate in Arctic waters. NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Missions have the potential to inform the ice descriptions used to distinguish the polar class rules. Launched on January 31, 2015, SMAP's L-Band active/passive microwave sensor package offers the ability to identify sea ice edge, sea ice quality (first year or multiyear), and sea ice melt/freeze status regardless of solar illumination, weather (clear or cloudy), wind speed, or snow cover. ICESat-2, scheduled to launch in October 2017, will produce monthly maps of sea ice above-water height, or freeboard, for the Arctic and Southern Oceans, using a multi-beam, photon-counting LIDAR instrument. These ICESat-2 measurements are expected will enable scientists to estimate sea-ice thickness to examine ice/ocean/atmosphere exchanges of energy, mass and moisture. We illustrate how these Missions may contribute to the Polar Code by highlighting current research efforts for sea ice being conducted by the Missions' Early Adopters. We also the potential role that these Mission's may have in the context of the Arctic Council.
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