The AutoICE Challenge
Abstract. Mapping sea ice in the Arctic is essential for maritime navigation, and growing vessel traffic highlights the necessity of timeliness and accuracy of sea ice charts. In addition, with the increased availability of satellite imagery, automation is becoming more important. The aim of the AutoICE Challenge was to encourage the creation of models capable of mapping sea ice automatically from spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery using deep learning while inspiring participants to move towards multiple sea ice parameter model retrieval instead of the current focus on a single sea ice parameter, such as concentration. Participants were tasked with the development of machine learning algorithms mapping the total sea ice concentration, stage of development and floe size using a state-of-the-art sea ice dataset with dual-polarised Sentinel-1 SAR images and 22 other relevant variables while using professionally labelled sea ice charts from multiple national ice services as reference data. The challenge had 129 teams representing a total of 179 participants, with 34 teams delivering 494 submissions, resulting in a participation rate of 26.4 %, and was won by a team from the University of Waterloo. Participants were successful in training models capable of retrieving multiple ice parameters with convolutional neural network and vision transformer models. The top participants scored best on the total sea ice concentration and stage of development, while the floe size was more difficult. Furthermore, participants offered intriguing approaches and ideas that could help propel future research within automatic sea ice mapping, such as applying high downsampling of SAR data to improve model efficiency and produce better results.
Status: open (until 01 Mar 2024)
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