Airborne remote sensing campaign 2020

One of the SIOS's missions is to work towards reducing environmental footprints of scientific observations. To achieve this mission, SIOS supports and coordinates the usage of drones and aircraft platforms to acquire aerial imageries and hyperspectral data for the Svalbard research community to support scientific projects.

SIOS-KC coordinates the remote sensing service to use manned and unmanned aircraft requested by researchers from SIOS members. The service is made available with the support from SIOS member institutes NORCE and UNIS (drone group). SIOS has funded a hyperspectral sensor (aboard Dornier aircraft) and a couple of drones through SIOS-InfraNor project. In addition, NORCE and UNIS provide additional drones and sensors to increase the variety of applications. See technical details of the aircraft.

Supported projects from the SIOS’s Announcement of Opportunity (AO) in Airborne Remote Sensing-2020:

  1. Mapping surface properties on Lomonosovfonna (SurfPro) Project: PI: Veijo Pohjola
  2. Kongsvegen surge: Digital Elevation Model 2020 (KING_SURGE_DEM2020): PI: Jack Kohler
  3. Airborne Remote Sensing in South of Spitsbergen (current evolution of polar environment) (AirborneSOS): PI: Małgorzata Błaszczyk
  4. Hindcasting and projections of hydro-climatic conditions of Southern Spitsbergen (HyMote): PI: Marta Majerska
  5. The Vanishing White (VANWHITE) - Airborne Remote Sensing campaign Svalbard 2020: PI: Hans Tømmervik
  6. Automatic system for monitoring vegetation and environmental seasonal changes on Svalbard using hyperspectral data (ASMoVEn): PI: Lennart Nilsen
  7. Long term changes in vegetation and permafrost in Rosenbergdalen (Rosenbergdalen): PI: Maarten Loonen
  8. Barnacle Goose Ecology: interactions with a changing environment (GOOSE): PI: Maarten Loonen
  9. Centre for Integrated Remote sensing and Forecasting for Arctic operations (CIRFA): PI: Thomas Kræmer

How to use available drones and aircraft facilities?

(1) SIOS’s Announcement of opportunity for airborne remote sensing: This is a pilot effort by SIOS to facilitate the usage of airborne platforms within SIOS research community. This opportunity is available for SIOS member institutes upon their submitted projects and consequent evaluation. To participate in this opportunity, keep an eye on SIOS website. More information on airborne remote sensing platforms available for this call can be found on SIOS website (

(2) Operational SIOS-Access call: SIOS-ACCESS provides access to a variety of research infrastructures (RIs) and facilities in Svalbard that includes the usage of aircraft and drones. This opportunity is open for the international research community in Svalbard. 

(3) On request/demand: SIOS coordinates all the requests of using aircraft and drones from the entire research community including space agencies for conducting scientific projects or supporting Cal/Val activities for satellite missions. The aircraft and drones are available for research purposes at a competitive rate. If you are planning to put forward such requests, please make sure that you contact us at least 2 months prior to the planned research or Cal/Val activity. This service is available during the entire year; however, image acquisition and hyperspectral data acquisition would be available only during the spring and summer season (April-Sept.). 

Which projects are prioritized for using aircraft and drones?

  • Proposals from space agencies supporting cal/val activities for satellite missions are encouraged
  • Proposals should contribute towards one or more of the following topics:
    • Specifically addressing one or more of the recommendations in SESS reports;
    • Closing the gaps or complementing to in situ data or measurements;
    • Cal/Val of airborne or satellite borne hyperspectral data with ground measurements;
    • Contributions to modelling activities;
    • Reducing the environmental footprint of observations in Svalbard.


SIOS supported training course topics (lectures and hands-on) on usage of aerial data/UAV and hyperspectral data processing were included in the Terrestrial Remote Sensing Training course held online during the first week of September 2020. Experts from UNIS and NORCE contributed as teachers for these special sessions of the training course.

Contact: Ashley Morris, SIOS Remote Sensing Officer