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Summary of Proposal OCE3467

TitleSea ice mapping and coastal polynya monitoring in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, using high resolution TerraSAR-X data
Investigator Höppner, Kathrin - German Aerospace Center (DLR), German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD-LAX)
Team Member
Dr. Hollands, Thomas - Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI), Climate Sciences, Polar Meteorology
Dr. Dierking, Wolfgang - Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI), Climate Sciences, Polar Meteorology
Prof. Xie, Hongjie - University of Texas at San Antonio, Department of Geological Sciences
Dr. Diedrich, Erhard - Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), DFD-IBS

In the western Ross Sea a large increase of sea ice is observed. The processes driving these sea ice increases, and their implications, have not been well established. Within the PIPERS (Polynyas, Ice Production & seasonal Evolution in the Ross Sea) project the state of air-sea-ice interactions before and during ice advance shall be documented to assess changes in ocean heat/freshwater content and effects on ice-ocean interactions post ice. Therefore, a interdisciplinary multiplatform field campaign is planned including measurements conducted during a cruise on the US icebreaker N. B. Palmer in Antarctic autumn-winter season. During this cruise - as well as before and after - high resolution near-real time (NRT) TerraSAR-X data shall be acquired for sea ice detection and mapping. Additionally, in-situ sea ice observations on board N. B. Palmer shall be conducted for ground-truth purposes.

In addition to that, we are also interested in the long-term detection of the Terra Nova Bay Polynya and the Ross Sea Polynya in order to monitor the formation and the seasonal evolution of these polynyas and the sea ice production. The project offers the chance to study various aspects of ocean-sea ice-atmosphere interactions in a relatively small area together with ground truth data which is difficult to acquire in those regions. We want to analyse the evolution of polynya events with the help of active microwave sensors operated at different frequency bands (L-, C-, X-Bands) and polarisations, supported by optical and thermal infrared data as well as passive microwave data including data provided by the recently established Sentinel satellite constellation. The goal is to improve the classification of sea ice in and around polynyas and study its kinematics. The results of this study will also be used to assess the potential of the upcoming Sentinel satellite missions for polynya research. For the high temporal resolution data acquisition periods during the PIPERS campaign, the data will be used to estimate as well the sea ice drift and deformation in the region, employing an ice drift algorithm available within the AWI-EOS group.

Because of this dual purpose approach, TSX data will be acquired both in the near-real time (NRT) mode and the normal ScanSAR and Stripmap modes. DLR’s GARS O’Higgins station will serve as receiving and processing platform for the NRT products. In addition, the ship campaign is designated as test and validation campaign for further developments and tests of the GARS NRT processing chain, which is operational since 2016.

While the focus of this project is meant to be the Ross Sea and its polynyas, accompanying the PIPERS campaign, we would like to include the MacKenzie-Bay Polynya for monitoring even if there are no field campaigns planned. Since it is a small polynya with regular polynya events similar in size to the Terra Nova Bay Polynya in the Ross Sea, it is an interesting site to study in conjunction with the combination of different satellite sensors.

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