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Ku-band radar penetration into snow cover on Arctic sea ice using airborne data

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Satellite radar altimetry provides data to monitor winter Arctic sea-ice thickness variability on interannual, basin-wide scales. When using this technique an assumption is made that the peak of the radar return originates from the snow/ice interface. This has been shown to be true in the laboratory for cold, dry snow as is the case on Arctic sea ice during winter. However, this assumption has not been tested in the field. We use data from an airborne normal-incidence Ku-band radar altimeter and in situ field measurements, collected during the CryoSat Validation Experiment (CryoVEx) Bay of Bothnia, 2006 and 2008 field campaigns, to determine the dominant scattering surface for Arctic snow-covered sea ice. In 2006, when the snow temperatures were close to freezing, the dominant scattering surface in 25% of the radar returns appeared closer to the snow/ice interface than the air/snow interface. However, in 2008, when temperatures were lower, the dominant scattering surface appeared closer to the snow/ice interface than the air/snow interface in 80% of the returns.

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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