Retrieval of Snow Depth on Arctic Sea Ice From Surface-Based, Polarimetric, Dual-Frequency Radar Altimetry

Snow depth on sea ice is an Essential Climate Variable and a major source of uncertainty in satellite altimetry-derived sea ice thickness. During winter of the MOSAiC Expedition, the “KuKa” dual-frequency, fully polarized Ku- and Ka-band radar was deployed in “stare” nadir-looking mode to investigate the possibility of combining these two frequencies to retrieve snow depth. Three approaches were investigated: dual-frequency, dual-polarization and waveform shape, and compared to independent snow depth measurements. Novel dual-polarization approaches yielded r2 values up to 0.77. Mean snow depths agreed within 1 cm, even for data sub-banded to CryoSat-2 SIRAL and SARAL AltiKa bandwidths. Snow depths from co-polarized dual-frequency approaches were at least a factor of four too small and had a r2 0.15 or lower. r2 for waveform shape techniques reached 0.72 but depths were underestimated. Snow depth retrievals using polarimetric information or waveform shape may therefore be possible from airborne/satellite radar altimeters.


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Authors: Willatt, R., Stroeve, J.C., Nandan, V., Newman, T., Mallett, R., Hendricks, S., Ricker, R., Mead, J., Itkin, P., Tonboe, R., Wagner, D.N., Spreen, G., Liston, G., Schneebeli, M., Krampe, D., Tsamados, M., Demir, O., Wilkinson, J., Jaggi, M., Zhou, L., Huntermann, M., Raphael, I.A., Jutila, A., Oggier, M.

On this site: Jeremy Wilkinson
28 October, 2023
Geophysical Research Letters / 50
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