Blog Post

Predictive Ice Images (PRIIMA)

Background

The reduction of the sea-ice cover and predicted ice-free summers in the Arctic within the 21st century holds a large market potential for the Arctic regions. The Arctic Ocean is a shortcut for international shipping lines on three alternative routes: The North-East Passage, the North-West Passage or the Trans-Arctic Route. Furthermore 20-30% of the remaining oil \& gas reserves are estimated to be in the Arctic. Finally, the pristine Arctic environment and the adventurous flair of one the world`s last wildernesses attractmore and more expedition cruise operators. However, ice-free does not mean that there is no ice. Ice remains the biggest hazard for every Arctic venture. The Polar Code came into force on January 1, 2017, and makes decent ice information mandatory for every activity in Arctic waters.

ice in front of bow

A need for forecasts

Every ship transporting goods to, from or through the Arctic wants to find the fastest and safest way through or around the ice. Even service ice breakers save considerable amounts of time and fuel when they choose an easy path through the ice opposed to a straight path. Expedition cruise operators promise their passengers an adventurous but safe journey. That means, cruises ships seek the ice, but never want to get trapped in a dense ice cover. Several sources for ice information exist on the market. Unfortunately, sea-ice drifts several kilometres a day and all information on board is already outdated the moment it is available. All Arctic stakeholders are in an urgent need for ice forecasts. Presently there is no high-resolution ice forecast product available on the market.

hinlopen anmiated
The Hinlopen Strait in North East Svalbard is a bottle neck for the expedition cruise industry. High resolution ice forecasts would enhance planning capabilitites of cruise ships in that region enormously.

Predictive Ice Images

PRIIMA will deliver ice forecasts with the resolution of a satellite radar image. The concept is pragmatic in the sense that it establishes a helpful product developed in close collaboration with our test users from the field of cargo shipping, research ice breakers and expedition cruises.

hinlopen anmiated
First forecasted images are being produced by PRIIMA for open ocean regions. This example shows a forecasted 33.5 km ice drift within 24 hours and the offset to the true position

The PRIIMA project is an ESA kick start activity and is based on data provided by the Copernicus programme , namely Sentinel-1 SAR images and CMEMS sea-ice forecasts.