The Canadian Government Invests in New Earth Observation Products

Twelve companies will receive contracts totalling just under $6.7 million to deliver Earth Observation (EO) products designed to benefit Canadians. The data will be supplied by Canadian Space Agency supported Earth Observation missions including RADARSAT-2.

This new products will be used to:
– help the agricultural industry monitor crops and forecast yields;
– help map Canada’s wetlands, study river ice;
– help monitor Canada’s forest inventory;
– monitor pipelines and oil and gas transportation;
– monitor natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
In a release provided to media Minister of Industry James Moore said, “Canada has a proud history in space and has long been a leader in the important and growing field of Earth observation. The investments announced today will help provide important information so we can better understand our planet while creating jobs and contributing to the growth of Canada’s reputable space industry.”
Products receiving funding include:
1) Comprehensive Earth Observation-Based Pipeline Monitoring Approach – MDA Systems, Richmond, British Columbia ($547,875)
This project aims to develop and advance techniques that improve environmental monitoring and risk assessment of energy pipelines. More specifically, it aims to enhance Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and change detection solutions for monitoring geohazards in pipeline corridors that would provide pipeline developers and operators with critical risk assessment information. It also aims to develop novel advanced artificial targets that support more reliable monitoring of pipelines in Canada and worldwide.
Benefits to Canada: Improved monitoring and assessment techniques will help ensure that pipelines are operated safely in Canada and worldwide, and that risks of damage and environmental impacts are well understood.
2) Rapid InSAR Monitoring (RIM) – 3vGeomatics, Vancouver, British Columbia ($567,891.42) –
This Rapid InSAR Monitoring (RIM) project will develop rapid response monitoring for mines and oil & gas fields. SAR interferometry products and technology will be improved to provide immediate ground displacement information to stakeholders. RIM will flag emerging risks in near real time to support decision- making for day-to-day operations.
Benefits to Canada: Rapid delivery of critical information will improve operational integration of RADARSAT 2 derived products, and implement ongoing environmental monitoring across oil & gas and mining industries. In turn, the environmental risk of these operations in Canada will be reduced.
3) Improved Forestry Inventories using RADARSAT-2 and a multisensor approach – AECOM, Quebec City, Quebec ($494,183)
The aim of this project is to improve the existing forest maps and integrate satellite imagery, including radar imagery, to produce more accurate forest inventories for the purpose of planning forestry operations. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is currently used by itself but would benefit from being combined with Earth observation data, which could potentially improve LiDAR estimates.
Benefits to Canada: For the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources, fine-scale knowledge of its territory is important for a variety of reasons, particularly for establishing the forest product value chain. For the Canadian Forest Service, integration of new satellite data is an issue for the spatialization of forest attributes, given the vast territory to be covered.
4) High Resolution, Wide Area Detection of Anthropogenic and Natural Forest Change using RADARSAT-2 – MDA Geospatial Services Inc. (GSI), Richmond, British Columbia ($ 569,743.56)
This project aims to demonstrate the added value of RADARSAT-2 data in the monitoring of Canadian forest areas by providing information on forest clear/partial cut, and to develop innovative features that will enable its use in detecting forest disturbances, helpful information for the Canadian Forest Service. In addition, it aims to demonstrate the viability of delivering web-based RADARSAT-2 derived forest change products to international agencies, providing a clear improvement over existing products.
Benefits to Canada: The results of this project could improve the Canadian Forest Service’s current practices for disturbance mapping, providing added value to their activities such as maintaining a national-scale carbon budget.
5) Water Ecosystems Monitoring using Earth Observation (WEMEO) – C-CORE, Ottawa, Ontario ($574,696.79)
Water Ecosystems Monitoring using Earth Observation (WEMEO) aims to define an Earth Observation (EO) driven monitoring program to provide information towards monitoring environmental indicators of northern ecosystem health. These indicators include water levels, flooding, river ice, water course changes, vegetation, sediment deposits, and water temperature. The expected outcomes of the WEMEO project are the improvement and validation of EO methodologies for operational use in environmental monitoring.
Benefits to Canada: WEMEO has been developed to address the needs of various stakeholders within the communities and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) for the monitoring of northern ecosystem health.
6) Development of a Commercial End-to-End Interferometric Processing Capability for Environmental Monitoring – PCI Geomatics, Gatineau, Quebec ($573,133.13)
This project aims to support the decision makers in environmental monitoring by developing a commercial, end-to-end interferometric processing and visualization capability designed to significantly reduce the processing requirements and operational constraints encountered by non-SAR experts. The targeted application areas include mineral extraction, urban subsidence, transportation networks, oil and gas extraction, pipeline monitoring, volcano monitoring, and landslide prediction. The completion of an operational system, combined with moderately priced, high quality SAR data, will transition interferometric processing from research to commercial applications.
Benefits to Canada: The final result will be the development of a commercially available, fully tested, flexible, end-to-end processing system and tutorial which can be used by non-SAR experts to pre-process and extract pertinent interferometric information over a region of interest and present the results in an intuitive, standard and relevant manner. The targeted application areas listed above will all benefit from the development of a commercial and operational system.
7) Multisource Feature Extraction for Biomass and Forest Inventory – Array Systems Computing, Toronto, Ontario ($537,994.29)
This project aims to develop tools for processing and analyzing multisource forest features for forest biomass estimation and environmental monitoring. The advanced new tools will be developed in the open source RADARSAT-2 Toolbox.
Benefits to Canada: These tools would assist the Canadian Forest Service in developing their multisource biomass mapping capability and the Parks Canada Agency with ecological integrity monitoring of forests. In addition, these advanced tools will be freely available to all Government of Canada researchers to process, visualize and analyze multi-mission SAR and multispectral optical data and will encourage more scientific research and applications.
8) Multi-sensor Assessment of Reclaimed Areas (MARA) – ASL Environmental Sciences, Victoria, British Columbia ($551,871.95)
This project will combine radar and optical remote sensing data to develop improved EO products for assessment of reclamation of industrial disturbance in Canada’s natural areas. Recent regulation requires forestry, oil and gas and mining companies to return disturbed land as closely as possible to its original state upon completion of their activities in an operating area.
Benefits to Canada: This project aims to greatly expand upon current information sources used by Canadian industrial reclamation managers to focus and direct local remediation and reclamation efforts, and for Canadian government agencies to screen and monitor those efforts.
9) SATMOSE: SCIAMACHY and TROPOMI to Monitor Oil Sands Emissions – GHGSat, Montreal, Quebec ($568,260.05)
This project aims to develop a beta version of a new and innovative application of EO data called SATMOSE to better serve GHGSat’s customers in the oil sands. The primary objective of this application is for use in the monitoring of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands, and from tailings ponds in particular.
Benefits to Canada: SATMOSE could assist Canadian oil sands operators in the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, and is also of interest to Alberta Environment.
10) CartoPOL: Mapping Canada’s natural environments by applying Polarimetric decompositions to RADARSAT-2 images – Effigis Géo-Solutions, Montreal, Quebec ($574,875)
The main objective of this project is to develop methods for using multi polarized RADARSAT-2 images to map and monitor Canada’s natural environments, defined by their vegetation structure and substrate conditions. The most advanced polarimetric techniques (decompositions and POLinSAR) will be used in order to understand backscatter signal mechanisms and improve the accuracy of classifications at levels that will meet users’ requirements for this type of information. The analysis will include compact polarization of the RADARSAT Constellation (RCM).
Benefits to Canada: This project aims to develop methods for mapping and monitoring natural environments in Canada’s various ecozones and detecting any environmental disturbances they may experience.
11) SAR Wetland Monitoring – Kepler Space Inc., Ottawa, Ontario ($574,875)
This project is focused on water dynamics in the wetlands. It aims to develop a technique that would integrate SAR data acquired with multiple C band SAR sensors and their different modes of acquisition; develop and integrate EO methods based on SAR sensibility to water content; demonstrate the added value of the proposed EO methods relative to conventional methods; and recommend steps for development of an operational service based on the new proposed EO methods. All known SAR parameters (amplitude, polarization, interferometric phase) will be used to extract the best available information about water content, and an integrated water change map will be created.
Benefits to Canada: The end results of this project will support the work of Ducks Unlimited (DU). DU and its partners work closely with natural resource managers in both public and private sectors to ensure that development activities have minimal impact on wetlands, watersheds and waterfowl populations.
12) Development of an operational methodology of yield monitoring using RADARSAT-2 imagery in two strategic crops for Canada: corn and soybean – Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Montreal, Quebec ($498,847.15)
The goal of this project is to develop a management support tool for field performance variability, in map form, using RADARSAT-2 imagery. The tool is intended for farmers. The expected results at the end of this project are maps showing yield forecasts and harvests for three corn varieties and three soybean varieties.
Benefits to Canada: The objective of this project is to develop a method enabling Canadian corn and soybean farmers to obtain yield forecasts at key points during the growing season and at harvest time. The main beneficiaries of this tool are Canadian producers of corn and soybeans, while the main users of the technology developed will be Canadian agri consulting companies.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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