Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing, also refered to as Earth Observation, generally refers to the use of satellite, airborne, water or ground-based sensor technologies to capture information about the earth, including the surface of land, the atmosphere and water bodies.

The remote sensing unit is represented by a team in the Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics in Inuvik and a team in Yellowknife. They provide expertise and services in:

  • Interferometric synthetic aperture radar analysis for displacement detection and monitoring;
  • tasking for data collection to meet specific project needs;
  • airborne and satellite based earth observation data;
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, (RPAS) coordination across the GNWT;
  • data warehousing;

Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics

The Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics was established in 2018 and builds on previous investments in the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility and the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Line toward builing a northen digital economy.  The centre  is co-located in the Aurora Research Institute in the town of Inuvik and is a regional office of the NWT Centre for Geomatics.  The Centre's mission is to:

  • Establish monitoring programs on natural and economic resources and infrastructure in the NWT using remote sensing technology;
  • Build opportunities and support research on applied science that leverage remote sensing technology and data.  This is done in collaboration with the Aurora Research Institute and other organizations to provide decision support for governments and communities of the NWT;
  • Promote the value of remote sensing and the geomatics sector, as well as the open data and map resources available through the NWT Centre for Geomatics to support decision making.

Remote Sensing Products

The remote sensing team uses specialized software in combination with data from multiple sensors to generate a variety of data products.  For instance, RADAR-based sensors can be used to show ground movements related to changing snow depth, permafrost, as well as ice thickness.  Other sensors that combine various wavelenths of the light spectrum have been used to assess burn severity, classify vegetation types and assess landscape change.  RPAS (also known as drones) technology has been used to develop surface models of the terrain, which can demonstrate changes in ground movement such as land slides or calculate volumes of aggregate removed from pits.