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Geostatistical characterization of ice surfaces from ERS-1 and ERS-2 SAR data, Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland

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Synthetic-aperture-radar (SAR) data are useful for the study of polar regions because of their independence of cloud cover and daylight, but their analysis is complicated by a lack of absolute reference in size and grey value. The geostatistical surface-classification approach provides a solution to this problem. Parameters extracted from variograms constitute a feature vector, which is characteristic of a surface morphological province. The goal is the classification of larger areas using the result of a characterization of prototype areas that are homogeneous with respect to ice-surface morphological types. This requires (1) a feasibility study and (2) comparison with ground-truth data. Both issues are investigated in this paper. Examples of 1995 ERS-1 and 1997 ERS-2 SAR data from Jakobshavn Isbræ serve to demonstrate that different ice-surface types can be distinguished automatically with geostatistical surface characterization. Ice-surface microtopography/roughness data collected during expedition MICROTOP 97 to the Jakobshavn Isbræ drainage basin provide the ground-truth data required to investigate whether areas that appear homogeneous on a SAR image are in fact homogeneous in ice-surface morphological properties. An analysis of contemporaneous ERS-2 SAR data using geostatistical surface characterization is presented.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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