Avalanche information from Space
The main goal of the ASAM project is to explore and develop methodology supporting the vision of a future service providing national authorities with hind-cast and near real-time snow and avalanche information retrieved from Earth Observation data.
The project "Towards an automated snow property and avalanche mapping system" (ASAM) is a two year project (2013-2015) which deals with the applicability of remote sensing methods for avalanche applications. The project is funded by the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) through ESA's PRODEX-programme (PROgramme de Développement d'Expériences scientifiques) of the European Space Agency (ESA).
In many mountain regions of Norway snow avalanches pose a risk to road and railway passengers as well as tourists, skiers and other users during the winter season. Each year, snow avalanches hit populated areas and parts of the transport network, leading to the destruction of buildings and infrastructure, sometimes also to the loss of lives.
Much of the country is remote and knowledge of exactly where avalanches are likely occure, or have taken place, is a challenge task for the authorities. Earth observation satellites, therefore represent a potentially important source of information.
Explore and develop methodology
The following sub-goals have been set to support the main goal:
- Develop sufficiently mature pattern recognition techniques to detect the outline of avalanches in high-resolution (HR) and very-high resolution (VHR) optical satellite data.
- Investigate whether Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data could be used for the detection of avalanches, and to which extent.
- Develop and validate retrieval algorithms for snow variables essential for the characterisation of the snowpack for avalanche risk prediction and warning.
The work is done in two technical work packages, as described in the sub-prosject section:
- Avalanche pattern recognition
- Snow variable retrieval