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On the utility of SeaWinds/QuikSCAT data for the estimation of the thermodynamic state of first-year sea ice

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5 Author(s)
S. E. L. Howell ; Dept. of Geogr., Univ. of Calgary, Alta., Canada ; J. J. Yackel ; R. De Abreu ; T. Geldsetzer
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The thermodynamic state of sea ice is important to accurately and remotely monitor in order to provide improved geophysical variable parameterizations in sea ice thermodynamic models. Operationally, monitoring the thermodynamic state of sea ice can facilitate eased ship navigation routing. SeaWinds/QuikSCAT (QuikSCAT) dual-polarization [i.e., horizontal (HH) and vertical (VV)] active microwave data are available at a sufficiently large spatial scale and high temporal resolution to provide estimates of sea ice thermodynamics. This analysis evaluated the temporal evolution of the backscatter coefficient (σ°) and VV/HH copolarization ratio from QuikSCAT for estimating sea ice thermodynamics. QuikSCAT estimates were compared against RADARSAT-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) prototype operational ice strength algorithm. In situ data from the Collaborative Interdisciplinary Cryospheric Experiment (C-ICE) for 2000, 2001, and 2002 were used as validation. Results indicate that the temporal evolution of σ° from QuikSCAT is analogous to RADARSAT-1. The QuikSCAT σ° temporal evolution has the ability to identify winter, snow melt, and ponding thermodynamic states. Moreover, the copolarization VV/HH ratio of QuikSCAT could provide a second estimate of the ponding state in addition to identifying the drainage state that is difficult to detect by single-polarization SAR. QuikSCAT detected thermodynamic states that were found to be in reasonable agreement to that of in situ observations at the C-ICE camp for all years. Operational implications of this analysis suggest QuikSCAT is a more effective and efficient medium for monitoring ice decay compared to RADARSAT-1 and can be utilized to provide more robust modeled ice strength thresholds.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 6 )