Skip to Main Content
The Phased-Array L-Band SAR (PALSAR) aboard the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) is capable of globally acquiring fully polarimetric data. In order to confirm the ability of L-band polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to investigate sea ice before the ALOS launch, we conducted a field experiment using an airborne Polarimetric and Interferometric SAR (Pi-SAR) in the Sea of Okhotsk in 1999. This paper presents the analyzed results of data acquired in that experiment. The extracted polarimetric parameters of several ice types suggested that polarimetric coherences and phase differences between right-right (RR) and left-left (LL) are good candidates for discriminating ice types. The polarimetric anisotropy as well as the beta angle of the first eigenvector calculated in the polarimetric decomposition procedure are alternative parameters that are sensitive to ice type differences. Due to the low depolarization characteristics of open water, it could be discriminated from sea ice by scattering entropy in all incidence angle ranges. From the relation between ice thickness and the polarimetric parameters, we found that backscattering coefficients and vertical (VV) to horizontal (HH) backscattering ratio are highly correlated with ice thickness. Since the ratio is sensitive to ice surface dielectric constants, a simple simulation using the integral equation method surface model was conducted by using the physical parameters of typical sea ice. A two-dimensional ice thickness map was derived from an empirical relation between the VV-to-HH backscattering ratio and ice thickness.