The PSTG Participants:
Front row, from left to right:
Dana Floricioiu (DLR/IMF),
Stephen Howell ( Government of Canada, Climate Processes Section),
Mark Drinkwater (Mission Science Division, ESA ESTEC),
David Small (Dept. Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland),
Annett Bartsch (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, AT),
Yves Crevier (Canadian Space Agency, Canada),
Francois Montagner (EUMETSAT Marine Applications Manager, Darmstadt-DE),
Miroslav Ondras (WMO Observing Systems Division, Switzerland)
Upper row from left to right:
Michael Zemp (Dept. Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland),
Thomas Nagler (ENVEO IT GmbH, AT),
Frank Paul (Dept. Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland),
Don Ball (DB Geoservices Inc., Canada),
Bernd Scheuchl (Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, USA)
From October 5-9, 2015, the WMO’s Polar Space Task Group (PSTG) and the associated SAR Coordination Working Group (SCWG) met at the Earth Observation Center (EOC) for their annual meeting. The members of the PSTG are selected from space agencies operating Earth Observations missions which can be used in support of kryospheric research.
The PSTG coordinates the requirements of the polar science community for the areas ice shields and glaciers, floating ice, permafrost and snow. The SCWG particularly takes care for the radar missions which are of paramount importance for monitoring the polar regions. Such missions require careful preparation of their data acquisitions. The SCWG tries to harmonize mission operations as much as possible within the framework of the individual mission constraints. Established experts are invited to represent each cryospheric topic. They ensure smooth interfaces between science and mission providers for the benefit of gaining a maximum polar output from the EO missions.
DLR particularly highlighted the status and results of its two X-band radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Their high-resolution imaging capabilities and the high-precision TanDEM-X digital elevation model are extremely useful in polar studies. Numerous papers based on TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X measurements describe how the cryosphere changed in the past years when the climate became warmer. Both sensors will also play a major role in the future as part of the PSTG coordinated fleet of operating radar missions.
The polar atmosphere receives growing attention in the strategic goals of the PSTG. With globally increasing temperatures we expect that thawing permafrost will become a major source for the greenhouse gas methane. Currently, DLR and CNES, the French space agency, develop the atmospheric science mission MERLIN. MERLIN will determine worldwide concentrations of methane. This will help to better understand permafrost when temperatures will rise. The ozone hole over Antarctica was discovered in the 80’s of the last century. It stirred up public attention to the Earth atmosphere in general and demonstrated that our way of living even affects the most remote regions. EOC reported about its cooperation with DLR’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IPA) in the field of stratospheric ozone. This work suggests that the stratospheric ozone is expected to have recovered within the next few decades.
The meeting has shown that DLR, owing to its unique experience and capabilities in the field of space-borne remote sensing, contributes significantly to polar research. In a time where the polar environment rapidly shifts as a consequence of global climate change, this is a big asset.