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Classification of sea ice types in the Ross Sea, Antarctica from SAR and AVHRR imagery

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ERS-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) imagery are used to examine spectral characteristics of late winter/early spring ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. The combined spectral signatures are used to distinguish six ice types: fast ice, new ice, smooth first year ice, rough first year ice, thin new ice/wind roughened open water and glacial ice. The procedure firstly involves 'picking' class boundaries from SAR imagery based on the morphology of a speckle reduced backscatter spectrum. These class boundaries are then used as input to an iterative segmentation procedure that involves the repeated application of a speckle reduction filter to the image. For an image from late September 1996 the segmentation procedure enabled separation of five general ice categories each with a characteristic backscatter range. However because of the combined contributions of ice thickness, surface roughness, salinity and water content to the SAR backscatter, further decision criteria are required to separate some physical ice types unable to be resolved individually using this method. Coincident and co-registered infrared data from the AVHRR sensor are used to extract spectral characteristics for the final ice classes. Using this procedure we were able to distinguish floating glacier ice from thin new ice/wind roughened open water and new ice from nearshore fast ice. These ice types were unable to be separated using SAR backscatter intensity alone. In addition image subtraction was also able to clearly delineate areas of shore fast ice.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 15, 1999

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