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Retrieval of sea-ice thickness distribution in the Sea of Okhotsk from ALOS/PALSAR backscatter data

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Although satellite data are useful for obtaining ice-thickness distribution for perennial sea ice or in stable thin-sea-ice areas, they are still largely an unresolved issue for the seasonal ice zone (SIZ). We address this problem using L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR). In the SIZ, ice-thickness growth is closely related to deformation, so surface roughness is expected to correlate with ice thickness. L-band SAR, suitable for detecting such surface roughness, is a promising tool for obtaining thickness distribution. This idea was supported by an airborne polarimetric and interferometric SAR (Pi-SAR) validation. To extend this result to spaceborne L-band SAR with coarser resolution, we conducted in situ measurements of ice thickness and surface roughness in February 2008 in the southern Sea of Okhotsk with an icebreaker in coordination with the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS)/Phased Array-type L-band SAR (PALSAR) orbit. A helicopter-borne laser profiler was used to improve the estimation of surface roughness. It was found that backscatter coefficients (HH) correlated well with ice thickness (R = 0.86) and surface roughness (R = 0.70), which confirms the possibility of determining ice-thickness distribution in the SIZ. The interannual variation of PALSAR-derived ice-thickness distribution in the southern Sea of Okhotsk is also discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2011

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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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