About using dual-polarization multi-frequency microwave observations for improved identification of thin ice and retrieval of its thickness


Dr. Wolfgang Dierking 
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Fachbereich Klimawissenschaften
Sektion Meereisphysik

Dr. Georg Heygster 
Universität Bremen
Fachbereich 01: Physik und Elektrotechnik
Institut für Umweltphysik (IUP)

Professor Dr. Detlef Stammer 
Universität Hamburg 
CEN Centrum für Erdsystemforschung und Nachhaltigkeit


The heat exchange through openings in the sea-ice cover (leads, polynyas) can exceed the one over adjacent thick ice by two orders of magnitude during winter. Such openings are sites for maximum ice production. Overall, this study aims at improving the identification and classification of thin ice, and the estimation of its thickness. Available and future space-borne measurements of the radar signature of sea ice will be analyzed in combination with helicopter-borne measurements of the radar signature of sea ice at different frequencies, polarizations, and incidence angles, and concurrent in-situ observations, both carried out during field campaigns into the polar region. One aspect of this analysis will be the improvement of numerical modeling of the radar signature of thin ice. The present proposal asks for an extension of the first funding period by one additional year. During this extension we will apply the thin-ice identification and thickness retrieval algorithm to satellite active microwave data of one freezing season, we will evaluate and further optimize the algorithm by means of results from numerical modeling of the radar backscattering of thin ice and by comparison with independent data, and we will finally interpret and compare the obtained thin-ice thickness distribution with results obtained from satellite passive microwave measurements.


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