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Microwave Signatures of Snow on Sea Ice: Modeling

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8 Author(s)
Powell, D.C. ; Dept. of Phys., Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD ; Markus, T. ; Cavalieri, D.J. ; Gasiewski, A.J.
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Accurate knowledge of snow-depth distribution over sea ice is critical for polar climate studies. Current snow-depth-over-sea-ice retrieval algorithms do not sufficiently account for variations in snow and ice physical properties that can affect the accuracy of retrievals. For this reason, airborne microwave observations were coordinated with ground-based measurements of snow depth and snow properties in the vicinity of Barrow, AK, in March 2003. In this paper, the effects of snowpack properties and ice conditions on microwave signatures are examined using detailed surface-based measurements and airborne observations in conjunction with a thermal microwave-emission model. A comparison of the Microwave Emission Model of Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS) simulations with detailed snowpack and ice data from stakes along the Elson Lagoon and the Beaufort Sea and radiometer data taken from low-level flights using a Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR-A) shows that MEMLS can be used to simulate snow on sea ice and is a useful tool for understanding the limitations of the snow-depth algorithm. Analysis of radiance data taken over the Elson Lagoon and the Beaufort Sea using MEMLS suggests that the radiometric differences between the two locations are due to the differences in sea-ice emissivity. Furthermore, measured brightness temperatures suggest that the current snow-depth retrieval algorithm is sufficient for areas of smooth first-year sea ice, whereas new algorithm coefficients are needed for rough first-year sea ice. Snowpack grain size and density remain an unresolved issue for snow-depth retrievals using passive-microwave radiances

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:44 ,  Issue: 11 )