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Summary of Proposal OCE0997

TitleAntarctic Sea Ice Thickness using Airborne LiDAR, Ultra-wideband Radar and TerraSAR-X data
Investigator Necsoiu, Marius - Southwest Research Institute, Geosciences and Engineering Division
Team Member
Principal Engineer Lewis, Michael - Southwest Research Institute, Environmental and Safety Systems
SummaryUnderstanding mechanisms that force climate change in the cryosphere are crucial to gain a broader understanding of global climate systems. As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the thickness distribution of Antarctic sea ice presents a current knowledge gap and is essential to assess climate change impacts. This research presents a unique opportunity to obtain valuable satellite (remote sensed) measurements in conjunction with near-coincident airborne and direct surface measurements that can be used to derive (1) sea ice movement and thickness and (2) snow cover thickness in the Bellingshausen Sea, an area of the Antarctic sea ice zone that has undergone the greatest recorded change. In the intervening years between the loss of the laser altimetry satellite ICESat (2009) and the planned launch of ICESat-2 (2016), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has scheduled numerous over-flights of both polar regions (named the IceBridge mission) to collect complementary data sets of ice surface elevation.IceBridge airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) elevation and Snow Radar measurements will provide a means of obtaining estimates of sea ice movement, thickness and roughness with widespread application to sea ice modeling and effects of ongoing climate change in both Polar Regions. Estimates of sea ice thickness are particularly important in the Antarctic, due to the lack of opportunities to obtain measurements from ships and the limited extent of such physical measurements, even when access is available. RESEARCH ELEMENTS AND OBJECTIVE The month of November 2010 provides an unique opportunity to obtain ship-based measurements of sea ice floes in a region of the Antarctic and during a co-incident time period with IceBridge airborne measurements that are otherwise unobtainable over the next three to five years. These ship-based measurements are critical for ground-truth validation of the airborne LiDAR and Snow Radar systems. TerraSAR-X dual polarization data will be used to support this mission both by tracking ice flow movements as well as to derive polarimetric parameters sensitive to ice thickness. This project will result in direct sea ice measurements during the cruise and provide coincident 3D mapping of ice surface elevation from swath LiDAR and under-ice topography from multi-beam sonar on autonomous vehicles. From analyses of these concurrent measurements, we have the following objectives: Assess ICEBell obtained surface measurements with airborne retrievals of LiDAR, TerraSAR-X Snow Radar obtained concurrently over a range of snow depths and ice surface morphologies; Assess the sensitivity of polarimetric parameters extracted from TerraSAR-X data to sea ice thickness; Assess the potential of these parameters to be used in developing future Antarctic snow and ice thickness retrieval algorithms with possible suitability for use with ICESat-2 and the recently launched European Space Agency CryoSat 2 satellite. FUNDING The project is funded in part by the SwRI Internal Research and Development Program.Additional support will be borne by others in collaboration with SwRI (e.g., the travel costs associated with ICEBell participation will be covered by UTSA, the ICEBell berth and accommodations will be provided by the British Antarctic Survey). SCHEDULE The field campaign of the ICEBell project is scheduled in the month of November when data from TerraSAR-X will be required. Final report of analyzing satellite data in conjunction with aerial and ground data is scheduled in April, 2011.
Final ReportNecsoiu M., M. Lewis, and J. Parra, “Antarctic Sea Ice Thickness using Sea Ice Surface Measurements and TerraSAR-X Data”, Synthesis report prepared for DLR, December 26, 2013

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