Lake and river ice play a key role in the physical, biological, and chemical processes of cold region freshwater. The frequency and size of lakes greatly influence the magnitude and timing of landscape-scale evaporative and sensible heat inputs to the atmosphere and are important to regional climatic and meteorological processes. Because lakes are such a major component of most northern atmospheric and hydrologic systems, the ability to determine their annual energy and water budgets is critical to our ability to forecast high latitude weather, climate, and river flow patterns.

There are long-term observations of lake and river ice for many northern countries. However, the observation networks have been declining dramatically in recent decades. This lack of data hinders the use of river and lake ice data into numerical weather prediction, climate and hydrologic models. In this context, Earth Observation (EO) represents a unique tool to support the scientific and operational communities to characterize and monitor river and lake ice dynamics as a key component of the North Hydrology System.

Our role in the North Hydrology project is to develop methods for monitoring the ice coverage and surface temperature of lakes. We will explore the potential of exploiting ESA optical satellite data for this purpose. These products will serve as input to the hydrological and meteorological community.

Please visit the North Hydrology web pages.

Research areas

Project period



European Space Agency