Visual Interpretation of Synthetic Aperture Radar Sea Ice Imagery by Expert and Novice Analysts: An Eye Tracking Study
Abstract. We demonstrate the use of eye tracking methodology as a non-invasive way to identify elements behind uncertainties typically introduced during the process of sea ice charting using satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery. To our knowledge, this is the first time eye tracking is used to study the interpretation of satellite SAR images over sea ice. We describe differences and similarities between expert and novice analysts while visually interpreting a set of SAR sea ice images.
In ice charting, SAR imagery serves as the base layer for mapping the sea ice conditions. Linking the backscatter signatures in the SAR imagery and the actual sea ice parameters is a complex task which requires highly trained experts. Mapping of sea ice types and parameters in the SAR imagery is therefore subject to an analyst's performance which may lead to inconsistencies between the ice charts. By measuring the fixation duration over different sea ice types we can identify the features in a SAR image that require more cognitive effort in classification, and thus are more prone to miss-classification. Ambiguities in classification were found especially for regions less restrictive for navigation, consisting of mixed sea ice properties and uneven thicknesses. We also show that the experts are able to correctly map large sea ice covered areas only by looking at the SAR images. Based on the eye movement data, ice categories with most of the surface covered by ice, i.e. in ice charts fast ice and very close ice, were easier to classify than areas with mixed ice thicknesses such as open ice or very open ice.
This preprint has been withdrawn.
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