In order to monitor ecological conditions, study the processes of energy and mass transfer, and predict climate in polar regions it is necessary to introduce modern means of remote sensing. This paper considers potential applications and presents results of remote sensing of the ocean surface, ice, and soil-vegetation ground cover in polar regions obtained by satellite and aircraft side-looking radar. Unlike optical systems, surface studies using radar systems are not limited by illumination, or restricted by clouds and fog. Interpretation of radar data was based on comparisons between the coefficients of inverse diffusion and direct measurements made at test sites. The structure of ocean waves is reflected in radar images, revealing processes such as surface currents, internal waves, eddies, and frontal zones. Control data have shown economic disasters such as oil spills and drifting pollutants from coastal cities into the sea. Prospects are presented for using radar sensing for resolving a number of scientific and practical problems for the study of ice in the Arctic Basin. Radar methods also permit the characterization of soil-vegetation ground cover. In regions intensively used for agriculture, geochemical processes taking place under the earth and on its surface affect the soil structure and dielectric permeability at the surface level, and are evident in radar images.
This article is from 'Proceedings of the International Conference on the Role of the Polar Regions in Global Change Held in Fairbanks, Alaska on 11-15 June 1990. Volume 1', AD-A253 027, p47-57. See also Volume 2, AD-A253 028.