Skip to Main Content
WindSat fully polarimetric passive microwave observations, expressed in the form of the Stokes vector, were analyzed over the Antarctic ice sheet. The vertically and horizontally polarized brightness temperatures (first two Stokes components) from WindSat are shown to be consistent with previous studies. Azimuthal modulations in the third and fourth Stokes components were analyzed and related to surface topography, roughness, and snow morphology. A second harmonic sine function of the azimuth angle was used to estimate the orientation angle of snow features, such as topographic slope and sastrugi. The results show good agreement with the orientations derived in a previous study using scatterometer data at similar frequencies. Seasonal variability in the third and fourth Stokes components is discussed. A consistent pattern of response emerged for 10.7 GHz. Under winter conditions, the large contribution of multiple volume scattering causes a high and regionally varying 10.7-GHz fourth Stokes signal. Under summer conditions, surface scattering dominates and results in a high 10.7-GHz third Stokes signal. The third and fourth Stokes observations at 37 GHz were found to correspond to the smaller penetration depth at this higher frequency, resulting in a low difference between the amplitudes of summer and winter. The study demonstrates the potential of the spaceborne fully polarimetric passive microwave radiometers in monitoring the thermal and morphological properties of large ice sheets.