The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently shown that satellites could help to monitor avalanche falls in Norway, where they pose a risk to road users every year. A pilot study called “Innovators II–AvalRS” was launched through ESA’s Earth Observation Data User Element programme to do that.
The project tested two different approaches: one focusing on the texture of the avalanche deposits and the other focusing on topographic features of the avalanche such as aspect direction. Both methods have yielded promising results. The remaining challenge is to distinguish between shadows and rocks and also make classifications within areas in shadow.
The project has shown that satellite images and these new techniques could be used to add a significant degree of confidence to avalanche mapping from space, which would have the knock-on effect of keeping Norway’s roads safe in the winter.
More information can be found at ESA website