Remote sensing of dangerous ice
In interior Alaska, frozen river systems are important transportation corridors, due to the very limited road network. Long-time Alaskan residents report that winter travel conditions on Interior rivers have become more dangerous in recent memory. To address this concern, we used remote sensing to map dangerous ice conditions on the Tanana River in Interior Alaska. Unsupervised classification of high-resolution satellite imagery was used to identify and map open water and degraded ice conditions on the Tanana River. The classification system performed well for numerous Geoeye-1 and Worldview-2 satellite images. Ninety-five percent of the total river channel surface was classified as “safe” for river travel, while 4% of the channel was mapped as having degraded ice and 0.6% of the channel was classified as open water. An accuracy assessment indicated that snow, degraded ice, and open water were mapped with an overall accuracy of 73%. Over 95% of the classification errors were caused by shadowing of trees or topographic features in the snow, which are relatively easy to discern visually and avoid.
This research demonstrates that the classification of high-resolution satellite images is useful for mapping hazardous ice conditions and show promise for a multitude of recreational, transportation, or industrial applications in northern climates.
We are using airborne and satellite optical, near-infrared, and thermal infrared imagery to monitor the interaction of ground and surface water.
Aerial image acquisition by Dr. Jessica Cherry