OCRE Project by CENTEC: more than a decade of processed CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3 AB data over coastal zones available on ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab

We are pleased to share the conclusion of the European Commission OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) [1] financed project led by CENTEC (Centre for Marine Technology and Ocean Engineering) – Instituto Superior Técnico de Lisboa. With our support here at EarthConsole®, this project aimed at evaluating renewable wave energy resources in the coastal zone, employing advanced high-resolution altimetry products.

CENTEC selected EarthConsole® among the providers of the OCRE Earth Observation catalogue to process data over selected coastal zones and an extensive period of 11 years (from January 2011 to December 2022) for CryoSat-2 data and 7 years (from April 2016 to December 2022) for Sentinel-3 data. The processing was conducted using the ESA-ESRIN SARvatore services for CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3, which allow users to customise the processing from L1a to L2 data products, and include a list a configurable options such as the one used for this project, the enhanced geophysical retrieval algorithm known as the SAMOSA+ model and retracker.

These services are available for both systematic and on-demand processing via the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab hosted on EarthConsole®.

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab is the virtual space that offers customised services to process Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimetry from CryoSat-2, Sentinel-3 and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich missions, providing a community space for simplified services access and knowledge-sharing.

The areas of interest processed for this project are delineated in the accompanying figure below. Green areas represent processing with both CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3 data, yellow areas are exclusively related to CryoSat-2 data, and blue areas represent processing with Sentinel-3 data.

To download the datasets, we invite you to log into the Altimery Virtual Lab and visit its datasets repository. A free of charge subscription to the Lab will be required in case you are not yet a Lab Member.

We remind you that you could also have the chance to get the costs of the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab services covered, by requesting a voucher to the ESA Network of Resources.

[1] OCRE receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 824079

Banner with text saying EarthConsole 2023 wrapped.

EarthConsole® 2023 Wrapped: A Year in Review and Exciting Updates for 2024

As we near the close of 2023, it is the perfect time to unwrap some of the highlights of this year, which has been nothing short of extraordinary for EarthConsole®.

We’ve been right there, sticking to our promise of helping the scientific community getting value added information from Earth Observation data.

Been at it for years, our dedication is still going strong today and will continue in 2024, bringing in new services and options for data processing.

The ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab: Unleashing the Potential of Retired Earth Observation Missions

We have proudly introduced the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab, a new space on EarthConsole® dedicated to harnessing the vast potential of data from non-operational Earth Observation missions.

Even though these missions have retired, their data remain a goldmine for understanding current natural phenomena.

It’s a true honour to take on this responsibility from ESA, and we’re excited to have kicked things off with the On-Demand Small Baseline Subset for ENVISAT service by IREA – CNR to study the temporal evolution of natural or human induced surface deformation.

Right now, it’s the first (and only, for the moment) service in this Lab.

But we’ve got more processors lined up, since renowned research institutions have already manifested their interest in sharing their Heritage Missions data-based algorithms with our users’ community.

These are high on our priority list for integration in 2024, so keep an eye out for those updates!

And here’s the best part—subscribing to the Lab won’t cost you a penny. Once ESA gives the green light, you’ll have a head start with 100 free processing hours.

And if you have an algorithm of your own, let us know via our web app for a chance to be considered for a free integration into the Lab.

EarthConsole® on the ESA Network of Resources: Empowering Earth Observation Research and Educational projects, also in 2024

In 2023, we assisted 20 research and educational projects that received financial support from the ESA Network of Resources, allowing their teams to utilise our services free of charge.

It’s truly gratifying to see so many of our users taking advantage of this opportunity thanks to the scientific merit of their projects.

Looking ahead to 2024, we plan to add new services to the EarthConsole® offering such as the SBAS for Sentinel-1 on demand service based on the algorithm owned by IREA – CNR. We plan to make it available in the first quarter of next year.

And we’re also excited to share that the ESA Network of Resources will continue to offer sponsorship opportunities for research, educational, and pre-commercial projects.

To get your sponsorship request process started, first connect with us through our web app to ask for the desired services. You will find us on the other side, ready to guide you through the entire process, ensuring you get the financial and technical support you need.

ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab: A Growing Community of Altimetry Data Users

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab on EarthConsole® continues to thrive, with over 100 members and a repository of processed data exceeding 10 TB.

This year alone, the lab’s services contributed to the publication of 5 scientific papers, adding to the 40+ publications accessible via the open ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab library.

Joining this very active community is free and easy!

And for more details on the Lab’s altimetry SAR services and a glimpse into what lies ahead, you can check out the abstract from the recent poster session held at the AGU Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

OCRE-Funded Projects: Earth Observation Services for Extensive Processing Campaigns

We have proudly served as a service provider for two research projects funded through the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) initiative. These projects involved extensive data processing using the Altimetry Virtual Lab’s ESA-ESRIN SARvatore services for CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3 missions.

The CENTEC-led project, focusing on renewable wave energy in the Atlantic Ocean, has recently concluded, and its outcomes are generously shared through the Altimetry Virtual Lab datasets repository.

At the same time, the ongoing project led by the Technical University of Denmark aims to produce an open-access dataset derived from past and future CryoSat-2 altimetry mission acquisitions over the polar ice caps. This ambitious goal here is to turn this dataset into the go-to reference standard for the radar altimetry research community studying polar oceans.

Get ready to welcome WIMEX into the EarthConsole® suite of services widening support for the scientific community

WIMEX (Wave Interaction Models EXploitation) is ready to step into the scene next year. This ESA initiative led by Sapienza University of Rome and contributed by us at Progressive Systems as a partner, proposes a brand-new framework designed to make your life easier by letting you develop, validate and use your forward and inverse electromagnetic wave interaction models through a systematic approach.

The WIMEX prototype is gearing up to make its debut, starting with a focus on forward and inverse models for soil moisture and snow water equivalent, in the second half of 2024.

At the moment we’re on the lookout for Earth Observation innovators like you to join the beta testing crew. If you want to be part of the action and help refine the prototype once it’s ready to roll, let us know.

As we wrap up this remarkable year, we’re already gearing up for an even more Earth Observation data-rich and service-packed 2024 in the world of Earth Sciences!

Thank you for your trust and continued support, which made it all possible.

In the meantime, it’s time to rest and wish you and your loved ones a joyous and Merry Christmas, filled with warmth and happiness.

Banner of the AGU Annual Meeting 2023 taking place in San Francisco from the 11th to the 15th of December 2023.

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab on EarthConsole® at the AGU Annual Meeting 2023

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab hosted on EarthConsole® is set to take center stage at the AGU Annual Meeting 2023, offering a unique opportunity for attendees to delve into the world of its altimetry data processing services.

Dr. Jérôme Benveniste, the Lab’s initiator and Senior Advisor at the European Space Agency (ESA), is geared up to personally walk you through the online and on-demand services that make up the Lab’s portfolio during a dedicated poster session.

So if you will be in San Francisco for AGU 2023, mark your calendar for Thursday, 14 December 2023, from 14:10 to 18:30 PST, and head to Poster Hall A-C – South (Exhibition Level, South, MC) to discover:

  • The ESA-ESRIN SARvatore service for CS-2 and S-3 services, which allow users to customize the processing at L1b & L2 (a list of configurable options for, e.g., SAMOSA+/++ and ALES+ SAR retrackers, not yet available in the ESA Ground Segment).
  • The ESA SAMPY (Cryo-TEMPO project) for CryoSat-2 to append the SAMOSA+ retracker output to official CryoSat-2 Level-2 GOP products.
  • The TUDaBo SAR-RDSAR (TU Darmstadt–U Bonn SAR-Reduced SAR) for CS-2 and S-3. It allows users to generate reduced SAR, unfocused SAR & LRMC data, with configurable L1b & L2 processing options and retrackers (BMLE3, SINC2, TALES, SINCS, SINCS OV).
  • The TU München ALES+ SAR for CS-2 and S-3. It allows users to process official L1b data and produces L2 products by applying the empirical ALES+ SAR subwaveform retracker, including a dedicated Sea State Bias solution.
  • The Aresys Fully-Focused SAR for CS-2 & S-3, to produce L1b products with configurable options and appending the ALES+ FFSAR output.

And here’s the best part – if you’re not part of the Lab’s 100+users community, you can join for free.

We look forward to welcoming you to the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab!

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EarthConsole® Stories: Sentinel-6 potential of swell wave detection using FF-SAR data

EarthConsole® Stories are experiences about how we helped universities, research centres or service developers to leverage earth observation data to extract valuable insights for their research, educational or pre-commercial projects.

The Project

In the context of the Space Flight MSc program at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering of the Delft University of Technology, this thesis project delved into the capabilities of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, the latest satellite altimetry mission, launched in November 2020 as part of the Copernicus programme.

The project aimed to compare two types of data, Level 1b Sentinel-6 Fully Focused Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) RAW and RMC data, to evaluate their differences in monitoring swell waves.

The project focused on the Channel Islands of California, where the presence of swells is dominant and especially evident in the winter period.

The Need

Recent research has shown that the performance of the RMC mode in unfocused SAR meets expectations. However, when it comes to fully focused SAR applications, there was still a need to evaluate the differences with RAW data.

That’s where EarthConsole® came into play. EarthConsole®’s Altimetry Virtual Lab provides the FF-SAR processor for Sentinel-6 developed by Aresys. This processor handles the entire journey of Sentinel-6 SAR data, starting from the raw FBR data and transforming it into FF-SAR Level1b products. This processor became indispensable since it provided FFSAR data required for extracting swell spectra information.

Why EarthConsole®

The research team chose to utilize the EarthConsole® P-PRO (parallel processing) service within the EarthConsole® Altimetry Virtual Lab to access the FFSAR (Fully Focused Synthetic Aperture Radar) for Sentinel-6.

In the course of the thesis project, creating an in-house FFSAR processor was simply beyond the project’s scope and the time constraints allocated for it. Consequently, we made the decision to leverage an external service, a choice that brought about several notable advantages. It afforded me access to a well-tested software solution and allowed me to fine-tune processing parameters to align with my specific requirements. Most notably, the substantial reduction in processing time, compared to running it on a local machine, emerged as a pivotal factor ensuring the project’s ultimate success.

The project impact

This performance analysis will be of great help to members of the scientific community who wish to use RAW data to analyze swells as it will highlight differences between RMC and RAW datasets thereby guiding a critical interpretation of the Sentinel-6 mission data.


This project has been supported via the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

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EarthConsole®: two years simplifying earth observation data exploitation

EarthConsole Infographic 2021 - 2023


At Progressive Systems, we have been dedicated to supporting researchers, institutions, and companies in gaining insights from Earth Observation data since 2006.

In July 2021, following in the footsteps of the ESA Research and Service Support service we have operated for 15 years, we have proudly launched our in-house cloud-based platform: EarthConsole®. A platform designed to support the development, testing, and hosting of applications and processors provided by third-parties such as research centers, universities or companies.

After two years since its launch, we have supported 49 projects in accessing earth observation data and enabling processing services.

In this blog post:

The Services at Your Disposal

At EarthConsole®, we provide a comprehensive array of services that cater to your research requirements, from algorithm development to large processing campaigns, and everything in between these two extremes.

Here are some of the key offerings:

  • G-BOX: a virtual machine with access to earth observation data and installed software for their exploitation, suited for your algorithm development and testing.
  • I-APP: our expert support will help you seamlessly integrate your or a third-party application into the EarthConsole® parallel processing environment.
  • P-PRO: the EarthConsole® parallel processing environment to perform bulk processing campaigns, managed by EarthConsole® experts (P-PRO) or to independently launch processing tasks via our user-friendly web graphical interface (P-PRO ON DEMAND).

A Wealth of Earth Observation Data

With EarthConsole®, you gain access to a wealth of valuable earth observation datasets from:

  • Copernicus Sentinels Missions
  • ESA Earth Explorers, ESA’s scientific missions for Earth
  • ESA Heritage Missions, providing decades of data from non-operational earth observation missions.

If you require datasets beyond those mentioned above, please feel free to reach out to us, and we will be glad to assess your request.

Unlock the Benefits for You

EarthConsole® brings forth numerous advantages to simplify the exploitation of earth observation data:

  • Time Saving: no more worries about setting up and maintaining your processing infrastructure. EarthConsole® eliminates this hassle, letting you focus on your research.
  • Storage Saving: the platform eliminates the need to download and store massive amounts of data locally. EarthConsole® allows direct access to data on the cloud, saving you precious storage space.
  • Reduced Time to Processing Completion: by co-locating processing resources and earth observation data, EarthConsole® ensures faster and more efficient execution of your processing tasks.

Explore the Processors Available

In the last two years we’ve collaborated with prestigious institutions and research centres to integrate their processors on our platform. Suitable for studies on inland waters, seas and oceans, polar ices and land, these processors are ready to be used for your project needs.

Immerse Yourself in EarthConsole® Virtual Labs

Our Virtual Labs are virtual spaces offering processing services tailored to specific earth observation communities.
EarthConsole® Virtual Labs are:

  • Customizable: they are designed to meet the needs of the users’ communities.
  • Collaborative: they provide tools for sharing and collaboration among users (e.g. forum).
  • Supporting Open Science: they facilitate the dissemination of scientific knowledge, data, and resources.

In the last two years we have set up two ESA labs currently hosted on EarthConsole®:

  • the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab: tailored to the needs of the altimetry community.
  • the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab: designed for users of Heritage Missions data.

The access to the Labs is free of charge here.

How to Access EarthConsole®

You can request EarthConsole® services through two different frameworks:

  • the ESA Network of Resources: If you have a research, educational, or pre-commercial project, you can request an ESA sponsorship via the Network of Resources portal. If approved, you will receive a voucher covering the costs of your selected EarthConsole® service.
  • the Open Clouds for Research Environments: EarthConsole® is also available through the OCRE Earth Observation Catalogue. This is an initiative aiming at accelerating the adoption of earth observation services by the research community, via dedicated calls for proposals awarding funding for using the services selected from the catalogue.

In case you are not eligible for either of these two frameworks, you can contact us for a quotation as the EarthConsole® services are also available commercially.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out today at

Join our platform today and experience the efficiency it brings to your project.


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EarthConsole® Stories: HYDROCOASTAL project enhancing the understanding of river discharge-coastal sea levels interactions

EarthConsole® Stories are experiences about how we helped universities, research centres or service developers to leverage earth observation data to extract valuable insights for their research, educational or pre-commercial projects.

The Project

With funding from the European Space Agency (ESA), the Hydrocoastal project aims at making the most of SAR and SARin altimeter measurements in coastal areas and inland waters. To accomplish this goal, the project seeks to explore and implement novel methodologies for processing SAR and SARin data obtained from CryoSat-2, as well as SAR altimeter data gathered from Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites.

An important focus of the project is to enhance the comprehension of the relationship between river discharge and coastal sea levels. To facilitate this understanding, the research team developed, implemented, and assessed new SAR and SARIn processing algorithms. From the results of this evaluation a processing scheme has been implemented to generate global coastal zone and river discharge data sets. The potential impact and benefits of these datasets will then be investigated through a series of impact assessment case studies.

Furthermore, as part of promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing, all generated datasets will be made available upon request to external researchers, fostering further exploration and analysis in related fields.

The Need

The Hydrocoastal project has developed a delay-doppler processor in Python. This processor can take Sentinel-3 SRAL L1A and Cryosat-2 FBR data and turn it into L1B data in a customised netCDF format. These data products were additionally extended to include data from Sentinel-3 and Cryosat-2 L2 files.

In the earlier phase of the project, the team developed different retracking tools that could work with these products. These tools were tested and compared with the goal of selecting a single retracking solution. Only the selected tool was to be applied to the data products created by the Python delay-doppler processor.

At this point the research team needed a suitable solution to perform these processing steps and generate the global coastal zone and river discharge datasets and resorted to GBOX (Integrated Algorithm and Execution Environment) available via the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab hosted on EarthConsole®.

Why EarthConsole®

The Team resorted to EarthConsole® G-BOX as it offered the necessary computing resources to efficiently deliver the global validated coastal zone datasets and river discharge datasets.

The initial phase of the project, involving the definition of products and assessment of various algorithms, has been successfully completed internally. For the next phase involving the generation of the datasets, we selected EarthConsole® G-BOX for its potential to significantly expedite our data processing timeline compared to our in-house facilities. By leveraging G-BOX, we eliminated the lengthy process of downloading input data. This enabled us to deliver the global datasets in a much shorter time, meeting our project goals effectively.

The project impact

The ESA Hydrocoastal project has the ambition to utilize the global datasets to foster more effective management strategies for various coastal regions. These areas have common features such as flooding and erosion, sedimentation, the importance of accurate high resolution local modelling, the vulnerability of coastal habitats, the connection between river discharge and coastal sea levels.

Simultaneously, the project focuses on investigating the potential for operational hydrological forecasting in inland water systems, assessing the influence of lake size and riverbank configuration on water level retrieval accuracy, quantifying the freshwater inflow into the seas under examination, and developing a comprehensive global water level climatology.

This project has been supported via the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

Join the webinar on EarthConsole® organized by the ESA Network of Resources

Are you interested in EarthConsole® and exploring the opportunities offered by the ESA Network of Resources (NoR) initiative?

We are pleased to invite you to an informative webinar session on EarthConsole® next Friday June, 16 at 1 p.m. CEST organized by the ESA NoR initiative. In this webinar, you will:

  • gain a comprehensive overview of the EarthConsole® platform offer with a specific focus on its services:
    – G-BOX: Integrated Development and Execution Environment
    – I-APP: Application Integration Service
    – P-PRO and P-PRO ON DEMAND: Parallel Processing Service
  • explore the features, potential applications and real-world use cases of each service;
  • learn how to take advantage of the EarthConsole® Virtual Labs, the EarthConsole® virtual spaces tailored on the needs of specific Earth Observation communities. These spaces provide access to customized processing services and tools to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Who can benefit from this webinar?

If you’re already familiar with EarthConsole® but still uncertain about how you can leverage the ESA Network of EO Resources, this webinar is for you.

If you’re new to EarthConsole® and eager to learn more, this webinar is for you too.

Whether you are a researcher, a professional in the industry or education field, a student working with earth observation data or just a non-practitioner with a passion for learning about Earth Observation (EO) cloud platforms, the webinar is open to all.

No matter your background, we encourage you to join us for this webinar.

How to register

Reserve your spot today by registering here.

We hope to see many of you there!

Invitation to integrate your processor for free on the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab

Following the launch of the ESA/ESRIN Heritage Missions Virtual Lab hosted on the EarthConsole® platform last week, we would like to invite you to submit proposals for innovative algorithms and techniques to process Heritage Missions data to be made available as on-demand processing services via the lab.

If your processor will be selected by ESA/ESRIN, it will provide other interested researchers with the opportunity to analyze and review the data processed by your processor for their own research goals, in a joint effort to advance together in the study of environmental phenomena impacting our planet.

Once selected the processors, EarthConsole® team of experts will manage and supervise the integration process from start to finish. You will only have to focus on validating processing results.

Proposing your processor is easy – simply join the Heritage Missions Virtual Lab and use the dedicated I-APP form to submit your proposal.

The deadline for submissions is the 16th of June 2023.

For any further information, please have a look at this invitation.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at with in cc.


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Heritage Missions orbiting the Earth

Introducing the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab on EarthConsole®

We are excited to announce the launch of the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab hosted on the EarthConsole® platform powered by Progressive Systems. This virtual space offers customized data processing services to harness the inestimable legacy left by the Heritage Missions, all accessible via single sign-on.

If you are not familiar with Heritage Missions, they consist of over 45 non-operational earth observation missions, including cornerstone ESA missions such as the European Remote Sensing satellites, ERS-1 and ERS-2, and ENVISAT. These missions acquired data from various optical, radar, and atmospheric instruments for over 40 years.

As you can imagine, the preservation of data coming from these missions is of key importance for the ongoing environmental research on our planet. When combined with data from new satellites, Heritage Missions data provides a unique opportunity to look back in time and build long-term data series on a diverse range of applications such as climate change, sea levels, surface temperatures, melting ice, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, atmospheric composition, deforestation, urban mapping and much more.

That’s why we have collaborated with ESA to create this Lab which offers research centers and universities the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of Earth dynamics over time, by leveraging Heritage Missions data and related processors.

We have made sure to maintain the unique features of EarthConsole® intact, that means ensuring the processing capacity and data are co-located. This reduces the time taken for data transfer and enables completion of scalable processing campaigns within the stipulated time frame of research projects.

The Lab lets you:

  • Perform bulk processing campaigns (supervised by EarthConsole® experts) or on demand processing tasks (unsupervised and independently managed by the user) with the Small BAseline Subset – SBAS processor provided by IREA, a scientific and technological research institute belonging to the largest Italian research institution, the National Research Council (CNR). The service provides the possibility to generate soil deformation maps and time series from ERS and ENVISAT data. Additional processors will be integrated in the future.
  • Develop, test algorithms and do post-processing activities on a ready-to-use virtual machine with instant cloud data access, software for Heritage data analysis & visualization already installed and flexible computing resources and storage.
  • Receive expert support to integrate, in principle, any additional processors.
  • Access a set of tools to network and share research results with colleagues: a forum, a repository of processed datasets, and a library with relevant publications and media for consultation.

If you plan to use the lab services for research, educational, or pre-commercial purposes, you may be eligible to submit a sponsorship request to the ESA Network of Resources. If your application will be successful, it would allow you to receive a voucher that may fully cover the costs of the services.

Join the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab today and take advantage of this exceptional opportunity.

To register, simply follow the provided instructions and forms to request the service. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at with in cc.

Stay tuned for updates and the upcoming not-to-be-missed invitation to propose your processor to be integrated into the Lab!


This is a project supported by the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

Banner including a picture of the Calderone Glacier

EarthConsole® Stories: Application of Differential SAR interferometry techniques for the estimation of snow properties in the Italian central Apennines area

EarthConsole® Stories are experiences about how we helped universities, research centres or service developers to leverage earth observation data to extract valuable insights for their research, educational or pre-commercial projects.


The Project

Snow-mantle extent (or area), its local thickness (or height) and mass (often expressed by the snow water equivalent, SWE) are the main parameters characterizing snow deposits. Such parameters result of particular importance in meteorology, hydrology, and climate monitoring applications. Anyway, in the general case, the considerable geographical extension of snow layers and their typical spatial heterogeneity makes it impractical to monitor snow by means of direct or indirect in situ measurements, suggesting the exploitation of satellite technologies.

Space-borne SAR sensors, such as those operating in Sentinel-1 mission, are particularly suitable for the analysis of snow deposits, providing data with resolutions up to some meters, with global coverage and 6-day revisit time.

SAR backscattering power coefficient can be used to study the effects of backscattering at the air-snow interface, at the snow-ground interface, together with the volumetric effects of the snow layer. The distinction between wet and dry snow can be obtained exploiting the co-polar and cross-polar SAR returns. Differential Interferometric SAR (DInSAR) can be exploited to analyze the effects of air-snow refraction and the snow-ground reflection, together with the coherence and phase-shifts between two sequential images.

The project activities are oriented towards 4 main objectives:

  1. development of a processing chain which, starting from the DInSAR measurements available from Sentinel-1, CSK and SAOCOM, together with fusion with auxiliary data from VIS-IR radiometric measurements and physical-electromagnetic SAR response models, using analytical, Bayesian techniques and/or physically-based neural, both able to estimate the snow cover (SCM, Snow Coverage Map), the depth of the snow layer (Snow Pack Depth, SPD) and the equivalent in snow water (Snow Water Equivalent, SWE) in the Central Apennines at a resolution around 100 m;
  2. creation of a forecast chain that, starting from the SMIVIA (Snow-coverage Modeling, Inversion and Validation using multi-mission multi-frequency Interferometric SAR in central Apennine) products of SCM, SPD and SWE, using the Alpine 3D dynamic snowpack model on the Abruzzo region, forced by forecasting of the Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) meteorological numerical model and snow precipitation estimates from meteorological radar on the ground, is able to predict in the following 24-48 hours the state of the snowpack and its properties at a resolution of 1-3 km;
  3. validation of the SCM, SWE and SPD estimates with in-situ measurements on the pilot and verification sites identified in the central Apennines (Gran Sasso and Calderone glacieret, Campo Felice and the mountains of L’Aquila), carried out using multifrequency georadar sensors, radio meteorological remote sensing sensors, chemical-physical sensors and meteo-snow sensors also on the area of the Calderone glacieret;
  4. application of the processing and forecasting chain to an inflows / outflows model for the management of water resources and to the issuance of the avalanche danger alert over extended regions on the basis of quantitative maps at 24-48 hours in advance.

Backscattering coefficient, Coherence and Interferometric Phase

The Need

Satellite data cover large areas at different resolutions and were considered as the perfect candidates to correct snow cover models using gridded data from coarse to fine resolutions. Optical data for example can give information of snow cover extent and albedo, whereas with DinSAR techniques it is possible to estimate the snow height variation between different dates, or even the snowpack liquid water content.

SAR data processing can be performed in different ways to retrieve snow parameters. SAR backscattering power coefficient can be used to study the effects of backscattering at the air-snow interface, at the snow-ground interface, together with the volumetric effects of the snow layer. The distinction between wet and dry snow can be obtained exploiting the copolar and cross-polar SAR returns. Differential Interferometric SAR (DInSAR) can be exploited to analyze the effects of air-snow refraction and the snow-ground reflection, together with the coherence and phase-shifts between two sequential images.

Why EarthConsole®

The EarthConsole® G-BOX service has been selected for this project and used thanks to a sponsorship received from the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

G-BOX has been chosen since it is a Cloud Virtual Machine (VM) which features high flexibility for the configuration (CPU/RAM/DISK) and provides pre-installed software specific for EO data processing.

Picture of Gianluca Palermo, PostDoc Researcher at Sapienza University

The virtual machine proved to be the optimal solution for our data processing needs thanks to the customizable configuration options combined with pre-installed software, global accessibility and embedded access to the datasets offered by the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services – DIAS.

The project impact

The project takes advantage of multi-mission interferometric SAR techniques in L, C, and X bands and focuses attention on a geographic region particularly sensitive to climate change, namely the central Apennines where the southernmost glacier in Europe, the Calderone glacier, is located.

This research might potentially have impact on various aspects of environment and society, including provision of useful information in terms of avalanche warning, monitoring of climate change evolution, flood forecasting and water volumes expected for the hydric supply.



Palermo, E. Raparelli, P. Tuccella, M. Orlandi and F. S. Marzano, “Using Artificial Neural Networks to Couple Satellite C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry and Alpine3D Numerical Model for the Estimation of Snow Cover Extent, Height, and Density,” in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, vol. 16, pp. 2868-2888, 2023, doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2023.3253804.