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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(10), 13664-13691; doi:10.3390/rs71013664

Monitoring the Variation in Ice-Cover Characteristics of the Slave River, Canada Using RADARSAT-2 Data—A Case Study

Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N3H5, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Santonu Goswami, Daniel J. Hayes, Guido Grosse, Benjamin Jones, Xiaofeng Li and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 17 June 2015 / Revised: 28 September 2015 / Accepted: 10 October 2015 / Published: 20 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Changing Northern High Latitude Ecosystems)
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Abstract

The winter regime of river-ice covers in high northern latitude regions is often a determining factor in the management of water resources, conservation of aquatic ecosystems and preservation of traditional and cultural lifestyles of local peoples. As ground-based monitoring of river-ice regimes in high northern latitudes is expensive and restricted to a few locations due to limited accessibility to most places along rivers from shorelines, remote sensing techniques are a suitable approach for monitoring. This study developed a RADARSAT-2 based method to monitor the spatio-temporal variation of ice covers, as well as ice types during the freeze-up period, along the main channel of the Slave River Delta in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The spatio-temporal variation of ice covers along the river was analyzed using the backscatter-based coefficient of variation (CV) in the 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 winters. As a consequence of weather and flow conditions, the ice cover in the 2013–2014 winter had the higher variation than the 2014–2015 winter, particularly in the potential areas of flooded/cracked ice covers. The river sections near active channels (e.g., Middle Channel and Nagle Channel), Big Eddy, and Great Slave Lake also yielded higher intra-annual variation of ice cover characteristics during the winters. With the inclusion of backscatter and texture analysis from RADARSAT-2 data, four water and ice cover classes consisting of open water, thermal ice, juxtaposed ice, and consolidated ice, were discriminated in the images acquired between November and March in both the studied winters. In addition to river geomorphology and climatic conditions such as river width, sinuosity or air temperature, the fluctuation of water flows during the winter has a significant impact on the variation of ice cover as well as the formation of different ice types in the Slave River. The RADARSAT-2 based monitoring algorithm can also be applied to other river systems in high latitude ecosystems to annually monitor their river-ice variation and formation during the freeze-up and ice cover progression period. View Full-Text
Keywords: river ice freeze-up; spatio-temporal variation; RADARSAT-2; Slave River; high northern latitudes river ice freeze-up; spatio-temporal variation; RADARSAT-2; Slave River; high northern latitudes
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Chu, T.; Das, A.; Lindenschmidt, K.-E. Monitoring the Variation in Ice-Cover Characteristics of the Slave River, Canada Using RADARSAT-2 Data—A Case Study. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 13664-13691.

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