ESA Training Course on Cryosphere Remote Sensing

As part of the Earth Observation (EO) Science for Society - Scientific Exploitation element of EOEP-5 program, the European Space Agency (ESA) organised a training course on remote sensing of the Cryosphere in June 2018 (co-organised by SIOS). The course was intended to train the next generation of scientists and specialists to exploit EO data for science and applications.

  • Time: 11 - 16 June 2018
  • Location: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
  • Recordings: Not available



11 June 2018

Measuring the state of the cryosphere from space

Recent dynamic behaviour of Svalbard glaciers

Mapping glaciers with optical satellite data: Special Svalbard challenges (hands-on)

Cryospheric applications of Landsat-8

Icebreaker at SvalSat facility

12 June 2018

EO for measuring glacier topography and elevation change

Ice surface velocities using optical methods

Ice surface velocities using SAR

Feature tracking and ice surface velocities (hands-on)

Sea ice conditions using SAR

Keynote talk: Applications of full polarimetric SAR to monitoring sea ice, leads and oil spills

13 June 2018

Altimetry theory

Sea ice altimetry

Sea ice growth and decay

Recognition of fast and drift ice using SAR (hands-on)

Sea ice thickness using altimetry (hands-on)

Land ice altimetry

14 June 2018

Excursion: Boat trip to Tunabreen

15 June 2018

Measuring the Ocean - in situ and from space

Ice-ocean interactions

Gravimetry theory

Application of GRACE to the Cryosphere

Albedo measurements with Sentinel-3 (hands-on)

16 June 2018

Freeze/thaw cycles and rain-on-snow events

Snow mapping using SAR

EO for monitoring mountain hazards



Target audience

Postgraduate-level, PhD students, post-doctoral research scientists and users from Europe and Canada interested in applications of remote sensing of the cryosphere  (participants from other countries subject to availability of places).

Course objectives


  • To train the next generation of scientists on Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere.
  • To provide an advanced understanding of theoretical principles, processing algorithms, data products and their use in applications.
  • To give hands-on practice with tools and methods for satellite data exploitation as well as fieldwork experience for in situ cryosphere-related data collection.
  • To provide insights of EO chanllenges/opportunities within the polar context for further studies.


The course will provide advanced scientific knowledge on theory and applications for Cryosphere remote sensing. It will be organised around 5 main topics:

  • State of the art of EO of the Cryosphere and presentation of the Sentinel ESA/National and Third Party Cryosphere missions and Svalbard geographical importance within EO data system.
  • Theoretical fundamentals of spaceborne optical, thermal and SAR remote remote sensing.
  • Lectures on EO Cryosphere applications.
  • Practicals using toolboxes for data exploitation, processing and product demonstrations.
  • Fieldwork for in situ data collection.   
  • Adrian Luckman (Swansea University/UNIS)
  • Frank Paul (University of Zurich)
  • Allen Pope (NSIDC/IASC)
  • Robert McNabb (University of Oslo)
  • Alexandra Messerli (NPI)
  • Thomas Schellenberger (University of Oslo)
  • Stein Sandven (NERSC/UNIS)
  • Camilla Brekke (UiT the Arctic University of Norway)
  • Ron Kwok (JPL)
  • Penelope Wagner (Norwegian Meteorological Institute)
  • Geir Moholdt (NPI)
  • David Small (University of Zurich)
  • Andreas Kääb (University of Oslo)

& others

Task force

The organising committee comprised:

  • Yves-Louis Desnos (ESA)
  • Sara Aparício (ESA)
  • Ulla Vayrynen (Serco c/o ESA)
  • Stein Sandven (UNIS)
  • Adrian Luckman (UNIS)
  • Frank Nilsen (UNIS)
  • Ane Bjørsvik (UNIS)
  • Anna Maria Trofaier (SIOS/UNIS)
  • Anja Strømme (Norwegian Space Agency/UNIS)
  • Vigdis Lonar Barth (Norwegian Space Agency)