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Polarimetric observations of sea ice from synthetic aperture radar can, in principle, assist in sea-ice classification and ice-water discrimination. In this paper, we use dual-polarization ground-based scatterometer observations of sea ice to assess the potential value of spaceborne dual-polarization observations of sea ice for operational ice analysis, focusing on C-band and, in particular, the contribution of the HV backscatter coefficient and HH/VV polarization ratios. Results show that signature variability resulting from frost flowers, ice deformation, and snow cover can overwhelm systematic differences between younger ice types, up to first-year thin. As a result of this and noise floor limitations of spaceborne sensors, the HV backscatter coefficient makes visual ice type and open water discrimination easier only below about 30?? incidence angle. The HH/VV ratio is less impacted by the noise floor of spaceborne sensors but retains similar ambiguities for sea-ice classification.