Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

During the 1990s, environmental scientists and members of the intelligence community collaborated to consider potential uses of classified assets and data to advance the understanding of environmental change. This program collected classified overhead imagery at six sites around the Arctic basin. Hundreds of unclassified products derived from those images have been produced but not yet released to the public. The National Research Council has reviewed the derived products, and reports that they show detailed processes that are important for studying effects of climate change on sea ice and habitat -- data that are not available elsewhere. The report recommends that the products be released as soon as possible to the scientific research community.

Key Messages

  • Several hundred unclassified LIDPs with a nominal resolution of 1 meter have been produced from the images collected at the 6 Arctic sites.
  • These images are unclassified but are not yet released to the public.
  • These images, when released, could lend themselves to a wide range of studies leading to significant improvements in the way in which sea ice physical processes are represented in climate models, as well as understanding changes in ice habitat.
  • Three categories of LIDPs are of particularly high priority for dissemination and publicity efforts: (1) all six sites during 2007-2008, (2) all from the Barrow site, and (3) all from the Beaufort Sea site