August 22nd, 2017

January 2017 - in video, chunks of ice floating down the Danube river in Budapest.*

Serbia - the ice on the Danube reached four meters in thickness, and two Hungarian icebreakers were sent to join forces with the Serbian ones in a bid to reopen the navigation on Danube.
Hungary and Bulgaria banned shipping on the Danube, as the floating ice and shallow water made the river traffic too dangerous.
Romania - 80 vessels blocked by ice on Danube, 2 cargo transport barges hold up in the same place for two weeks, and each day counted thousands of Euros financial losses.
The people in Sfantu Gheorghe, the main village on one of the Danube’s branch towards Black Sea, were isolated for more than a month, due to ice blockage on Sfantu Gheorghe channel.**

River Danube icebound is a common phenomena, as winters with very low temperatures is specific to the climate in this part of the Europe.

Historically, the Danube and some of its tributaries have formed important trade routes across Europe, and navigation is critical in the economies of the riverside countries.
87% of the total river length is navigable, and ships can call in at 78 harbours located along the Danube, up to the Black Sea. However, winter navigation can rise significant business related issues and real life challenges for people depending on the Danube river routes.
The level of shipping and offshore activities could benefit if weather-related information used in the fluvial navigation mirror the advanced possibilities offered by today’s Earth Observation technologies.  

Ice-prone waters like the Danube river is a natural phenomena that cannot be avoided, but mitigated.
The Danube river basin and the Black Sea information services are among the topics addressed by the Pathfinder Exploitation Platform, and ice coverage monitoring is one of the use cases developed.






In above image - ice cover map for Danube's channels, January 2017
River or lake ice extent product measures the covered versus free ice breadth. The services map and characterise river or lake ice extent, are developed based on free and open source software for geospatial application, and exploits the advantages of the EO Cloud innovation platform, provided by the Pathfinder consortium partners (coordinated by TERRASIGNA).

High volume of satellite data is processed and analysed using data extraction, times-series analytics and in-house developed fusion techniques. But any techniques or advanced algorithms cannot break or clear the river ice.

They can, however, provide very useful information about the status of ice extent and endorse navigation management in ice - environments. River ice knowledge approach lowers the risk in operational planning:

  • improves the navigation safety and efficiency - lesser risks of pollution, less fuel consumption, and less idle time;
  • assistance to ice-breaking services;
  • supports maritime and fluvial navigation in ice-prone areas.

January 2017 events are not unique.
Knowing the environment and how it changes over periods of time, both past and future, can drive positive impacts for affected people.

*AccuWeather video credit
**Sources Digi24, Iceagenow, CNN