The Polar Thematic Exploitation Platform (Polar TEP)
Earth Observation is especially import in the polar regions at a time when climate change is having a profound impact and excitement about new economic opportunities is driving increased attention and traffic, resulting in concerns about the state of the region’s delicate ecosystems. Developing tools to model, understand and monitor these changes is vitally important to better predict and mitigate the resulting global economic and environmental consequences. Polar TEP provides new ways to exploit EO data for research scientists, industry, operational service providers, regional authorities and in support of policy development. Polar TEP capabilities include:
- Easy access to data and the tools to exploit these data.
- Use of online cloud computing which removes the need to download and store large volumes of data locally.
- Data, visualization, and processing options that are tailored to the needs of science and operational users.
- Personalised and private accounts that can be accessed from any location through the Internet.
- A clear and intuitive user interface to access the platform functionality, including an interactive map portal for visualising data and outputs.
- Access to built-in processors or user-provided processors.
- Processor outputs that can be used in other processors, shared with other users, or download.
- Access to considerable processing capacity for analysis of large volumes of data.
- A customisable online development environment with all the necessary software tools and libraries to develop processors and optionally make them available to other users.
- A collaboration environment for groups to communicate via a platform forum, share software code using the platform code repository, and track problems with a built-in issue tracker.
The Polar Context
The polar regions are vast and have a growing significance for the entire globe. They play an important role in regulating and driving the global climate, but are also the regions experiencing the fastest increases in temperature associated with global climate change. Monitoring and understanding these changes is vitally important for everyone, not only the indigenous populations, since these changes will have global effects.
In the coming decades and as global climate change progresses, the world’s polar regions will become significantly more important. As a source of natural resources and current low population density, the Arctic is of increasing interest to politicians and industry. Global interest is fueled by environmental concerns for the delicate ecosystems and by excitement over perceived abundance of oil and gas. Where the Antarctic Treaty currently protects the southern polar regions from some of this attention, nevertheless there are still real pressures to ensure the Antarctic environment remains protected from increasing development.
Observations from space provide unique information which is essential for the successful understanding and management of climate change. The polar regions are remote and hostile environments where efforts to collect required observations and data are limited by very real constraints such as the weather, lack of infrastructure and long periods of polar darkness during the winters. As a consequence satellite platforms provide the only source of consistent, repeatable, regional scale, calibrated, year-round data of the polar regions. The large number of EO satellites observing various aspects of the polar regions provide a comprehensive monitoring system for the maritime and land cryosphere.