Introduction to MORSE

Arctic coastal areas are a unique and important part of the Earth system from a historical, environmental, social, economical and political perspective. Environmental concerns and considerations over sovereignty as well as safety and security have sparked and renewed interest in the Arctic at local, national and international levels. Given the importance of the Arctic coastal zone to human endeavour and the sensitivity and susceptibility of the entire Arctic to global climate change, it is imperative to monitor, observe and understand the processes affecting these vast and thinly populated areas. Earth Observation satellites are important tools to accomplish these tasks.

The MORSE Initiative focuses on the information needs of Arctic coastal users in government, non-governmental, municipal, industrial and scientific organizations. Particular emphasis is on those needs that can be satisfied, in whole or in part, by Earth Observation (EO) data from satellites. This new initiative is jointly managed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and European Space Agency (ESA). The MORSE consultation workshop opens a dialogue with users and lays the foundation for a subsequent Request for Proposals and Invitation to Tender early in 2009 by CSA and ESA, respectively. The MORSE initiative is summarized in a Concept Paper (in PDF format).


Remote sensing satellites can provide a cost effective means of obtaining Earth Observation (EO) information in the vast, barren and often inaccessible Arctic areas and their coastal zones. To this end, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have initiated an interagency activity to develop and demonstrate the use of EO data for monitoring coastlines and coastal processes in the Arctic.

The joint MORSE will foster the assessment, development, and exploitation of the broad spectrum of capabilities offered by existing CSA, ESA and ESA third party satellite missions. MORSE will:

  • - Open a dialogue with End-Users to understand their needs and requirements
  • - Demonstrate how space based measurements can contribute to and support Arctic coastal issues and activities through new and innovative EO applications
  • - Provide institutions and companies access to new EO products and services
  • - Foster the development of Canadian and European EO expertise that is directly linked to and in support of climate change, environmental security, economic development, sovereignty, and the people in the Arctic.

MORSE will directly engage governmental, industrial, academic and nongovernmental organisations by supporting the integration of EO data into operational and research activities for Arctic coastal zone monitoring and management.