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Xuelong Navigation in Fast Ice Near the Zhongshan Station, Antarctica

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Navigation in polar sea regions requires special attention to the sea ice condition because it is a major barrier for an icebreaker to break the drift ice or fast ice, allowing the vessel to keep moving forward. The advancement of remote sensing imagery provides an effective means to classify and identify various features, including different types of sea ice. Hence, it permits fuel and time saving for the entire voyage, especially when drift ice or fast ice becomes a barrier for the icebreaker. In this study, we exploit the potential usage of high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imageries from Radarsat-2 to identify sea ice conditions for precise navigation of China’s icebreaker vessel (Xuelong) during the 29th Chinese Antarctic Research Expedition in December 2012. Different features on the fast ice were identified from horizontal-transmit and horizontal-receive polarized imagery. The potential usage of SAR imagery for precise navigation was confirmed by an expert witness on the Xuelong vessel at that time. The final voyage route has validated our analysis of fast ice and navigation of the Xuelong vessel. The predicted regions for unloading locations were also found to be matching well with the actual vessel unloading locations after the final voyage route.
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Keywords: CHINARE; Radarsat-2; Xuelong vessel; fast ice; navigation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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