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Remote Sensing of Birds and Animals

The Remote Sensing joint Life Sciences and Physical Sciences Action Group aims to develop a satellite-based, Antarctic-wide, remote sensing approach to monitor bird and animal populations.

The SCAR Action Group on Remote Sensing was established at the SCAR XXXII Meeting in Portland 2012 with the full name "Development of a satellite-based, Antarctic-wide, remote sensing approach to monitor bird and animal populations".

The Remote Sensing AG intends to focus on future developments in a number of fields:

  • Recent technology in geospatial science over the last decade have motivated major advances in our understanding of the Antarctic continent and surrounding oceans. These developments have (and will) included the use of new satellite remote sensing platforms (e.g. WorldView and Landsat series of satellites) and methods to obtain geospatial information, such as, automatic/semi-automatic extraction of information from remote sensing images, new mapping techniques for ice sheet properties (roughness, thickness and velocity) usage of remotely sensed data for Antarctic glaciological and mass balance studies and ice sheet flow and geodynamics over short temporal scales.
  • Remote sensing of the marine cryosphere (including sea ice and its snow cover) and its interactions with ocean and atmosphere and generation of digital elevation models (DEMs) of Antarctic regions.
  • Rapid developments in monitoring bird and seal populations and habitats with remote sensing applications used unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) including disturbance capability and environmental impacts of UAVs on bird and seal populations.
  • The use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) technology to investigate small-scale characteristics and changes. Much of this research is cross-disciplinary in its nature and this has led to noteworthy advances across a range of Antarctic scientific disciplines.


The AG will focus in the future on such multi-disciplinary research and includes new and emerging research frontiers in Antarctic science. The AG will merge snow and ice studies with climate research, ice-ocean interaction, and animal monitoring via remote sensing. The next meeting will be during SCAR Biology Symposium in Belgium (2017) and the SCAR/IASC Conference in Davos (Switzerland) 2018.