Science Service System

Summary of Proposal COA0976

TitleImproved Retrieval of Sea Ice Information from Dual-Frequency, Polarimetric SAR Observations
Investigator Busche, Thomas - German Aerospace Center (DLR), Microwave and Radar Institute, Radar Concepts Department
Team Member
Dr. Haas, Christian - University of Alberta, Departments of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysics
Dr. Hajnsek, Irena - German Aerospace Center (DLR), Microwave and Radar Institute, Radar Concepts Department
SummarySea ice is an important climate variable and an obstacle for marine operations in polar regions. Its retreat has a remarkable impact on environmental, economical, and political issues. While sea ice area and extent have been well observed by satellites for more than 30 years, other surface properties and in particular sea ice thickness are still poorly observed. Sea ice roughness and thickness are important factors in understanding and predicting sea ice retreat. They are also important aspects for the design and operation of offshore structures and shipping in ice covered waters.
Recent work has demonstrated the feasibility of retrieving sea ice freeboard (i.e., the height of the ice or snow surface above the water level) from space by satellite-borne radar and laser altimeters. However, conversion of freeboard to ice thickness is subject to large uncertainties of several decimeters due to the unknown thickness and density if the snow cover on the ice.
This project aims to develop new algorithms for the retrieval of sea ice type, surface roughness, and ice thickness information from SAR data, and in particular from polarimetric Radarsat-2, and TerraSAR-X imagery. We plan to combine sea ice information from Radarsat-2 and TerraSAR-X, and we plan to use the various bands and polarizations for polarimetric analyses. Algorithm development will be based on the careful comparison between SAR signatures and airborne surveys of ice surface roughness and electromagnetic-induction (EM) ice thickness. In turn, we aim at validating ice information obtained from the SAR data with airborne and ground truth measurements of ice and snow properties. Our ultimate goal is to demonstrate the relationships between SAR signatures, surface roughness, and ice thickness, which could eventually lead to the possibility of ice thickness retrievals directly from Radarsat-2/TerraSAR-X imagery. This information will be most useful for end-users like the Canadian Ice Service and marine operators, and will also contribute to safer and environmentally friendlier offshore operations and shipping. This proposal is a partner proposal for an associated Radarsat proposal submitted to CSA/SOAR by my co-investigator Christian Haas

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DLR 2004-2016