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Airborne Ku-Band Polarimetric Radar Remote Sensing of Terrestrial Snow Cover

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6 Author(s)
Yueh, S.H. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Dinardo, S.J. ; Akgiray, A. ; West, R.
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Characteristics of the Ku-band polarimetric scatterometer (POLSCAT) data acquired from five sets of aircraft flights in the winter months of 2006-2008 for the second Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX-II) in Colorado are described in this paper. The data showed the response of the Ku-band radar echoes to snowpack changes for various types of background vegetation in the study site in north central Colorado. We observed about 0.15-0.5-dB increases in backscatter for every 1 cm of snow-water-equivalent (SWE) accumulation for areas with short vegetation (sagebrush and pasture). The region with the smaller amount of biomass, signified by the backscatter in November, seemed to have the stronger backscatter response to SWE in decibels. The data also showed the impact of surface hoar growth and freeze/thaw cycles, which created large snow-grain sizes, ice crust layers, and ice lenses and consequently increased the radar signals by a few decibels. The copolarized HH/VV backscatter ratio seems to indicate double-bounce scattering between the ground surface and snow or vegetation. The cross-polarized backscatter [vertical-horizontal (VH)] showed not only the influence of vegetation but also the strong response to snow accumulation. The observed HV/VV ratio suggests the importance of multiple scattering or nonspherical scattering geometry of snow grain in the dense-media radiative transfer scattering model. Comparison of the POLSCAT and QuikSCAT data was made and confirmed the effects of mixed terrain covers in the coarse-resolution QuikSCAT data.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 10 )