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Title
Transactions of the Symposium on Photo Interpretation

THE USE OF SATELLITES FOR ICE STUDIES
by R. W. Popham
U.S. Weather Bureau, Washington, D.C.
Abstract The use of meteorological satellites to obtain photographs of sea and lake ice
for research and operational purposes is currently being explored. Television pictures obtained
principally over Canadian east coast waters from the experimental tiros satellites form the
basis of these studies. Satellite picture-acquisition methods are described, and some recent
examples of tiros ice photography are shown and discussed.
Résumé L’emploi de satellites météorologiques destinés à fournir des photographies de la
glace recouvrant les mers et les lacs pour des buts scientifiques ou opérationels est couramment
envisagé. Les images de télévision obtenues principalement au-dessus des eaux de la côte
orientale du Canada grâce aux satellites expérimentaux tiros constituent la base de ces études.
Les méthodes d’obtention d’images du satellite font l’objet d’une description et il sera montré
quelques exemples récents de photographies de glaces prises par tiros.
Zusammenfassung Das Gebrauch meteorologischer Satelliten für die Aufnahme von Luft
bildern zur Erkundung von Meeres-Eis und See-Eis für Forschung sowie für Operations
zwecke, wird laufend untersucht. Fernseh-Aufnahmen, vor allem von Gewässern der Kana
dischen Ostküste, mit Hilfe der tiros Versuchs-Satelliten, bilden die Basis dieser Studien.
Es werden die Methoden zur Erlangung der Satellit-Bilder beschrieben und einige neuere
Beispiele von tiros Eis-Photographien gezeigt und besprochen.
During the past two decades there has been a significant increase in air and
sea traffic in the polar and sub-polar regions of the earth. The growing im
portance of these regions is reflected in scientific experiments such as those
made during the recent International Geophysical Year and still being con
ducted, the increased use of trans-polar air routes to reduce intercontinental
flying time and distance, and the routing of ships through areas where ice
constitutes a major hazard to navigation. Increasing attention has been focused
on the meteorology and oceanography of these areas to satisfy the require
ments placed by these and other activities.
Forecasting weather for aircraft and ship operations in these regions is made
especially difficult by the very sparse observational network currently existing
in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The prediction of ice formation, growth,
movement and breakup has depended on the accuracy of long-range weather
forecasts and visual ice observations obtained from aircraft.
The use of meteorological satellites to complement sea ice and weather
observations in the polar and sub-polar regions is currently being studied by
several organizations in the United States and Canada. Before discussing how
the material for this study was gathered and how evaluation techniques are
being developed or applied, some of the problems encountered in analyzing
satellite photographs may be better understood if the vehicle is described first.