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Observations of Snow Water Equivalent Change on Landfast First-Year Sea Ice in Winter Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Data

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2 Author(s)
John J. Yackel ; Dept. of Geogr., Calgary Univ., Alta. ; David G. Barber

In this paper, we examine the utility of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) backscatter data to detect a change in snow water equivalent (SWE) over landfast first-year sea ice during winter at relatively cold temperatures. We begin by reviewing the theoretical framework for linking microwave scattering from SAR to the thermodynamic and electrical properties of first-year sea ice. Previous research has demonstrated that for a given ice thickness and air-temperature change, a thick snow cover will result in a smaller change in the snow-ice interface temperature than will a thin snow cover. This small change in the interface temperature will result in a relatively small change in the brine volume at the interface and the resulting complex permittivity, thereby producing a relatively small change in scattering. A thin snow cover produces the opposite effect-a greater change in interface temperature, brine volume, permittivity, and scattering. This work is extended here to illustrate a variation of this effect over landfast first-year sea ice using in situ measurements of physical snow properties and RADARSAT-1 SAR imagery acquired during the winter of 1999 in the central Canadian Archipelago at cold (~-26degC) and moderately cold (~-14degC) snow-sea-ice interface temperatures. We utilize in situ data from five validation sites to demonstrate how the change in microwave scattering covaries and is inversely proportional with the change in the magnitude of SWE. These changes are shown to be detectable over both short (2 days) and longer (45 days) time durations

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 4 )