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Simultaneous MSMR and SSM/I observations and analysis of sea‐ice characteristics over the Antarctic region

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Polar sea ice has been monitored quasi‐continuously over the last 30 years using passive microwave radiometers onboard three satellites in polar orbit, namely Nimbus‐5, Nimbus‐7 and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) series. A short overlap between Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) on Nimbus‐7 and Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) onboard DMSP allowed inter‐calibration of the two sensors leading to a consistent series of long‐term sea‐ice measurements since 1978. With the launch of Multifrequency Scanning Microwave Radiometer (MSMR) onboard OCEANSAT‐1 in the polar sun‐synchronous orbit during 1999, India developed the capability to monitor the polar sea ice on a regular basis. The concurrent availability of SSM/I and MSMR over the last few years presents a valuable opportunity to attempt an inter‐comparison of MSMR with SSM/I measurements and derived sea‐ice parameters. In this paper, we present an indirect validation of the brightness temperatures ( T b ) observed by MSMR with near‐simultaneous measurements from SSM/I over the Antarctic and Southern Polar Ocean regions. Simultaneous MSMR and SSM/I data from two contrasting seasons—summer and winter—for the 1999–2000 period have been used. Analysis includes a comparison of T b scatterograms to achieve confidence in the quantitative use of the T b data to derive various geophysical parameters, e.g. sea‐ice concentration and extent. Additionally, the T b images produced by the two sensors are compared to establish the capability of MSMR in reliable two‐dimensional portrayal of all the sea and continental ice features over the Antarctic Region. Based on a regression analysis between MSMR observed T b in different frequency channels and polarizations, and SSM/I‐derived sea‐ice concentration (SIC) values, we have developed algorithms to estimate SIC over the Southern Polar Ocean from MSMR data. The MSMR algorithms allow estimation of SIC with better than 10% rms error. MSMR SIC images faithfully capture the observed distribution of sea ice in all the sectors of the Southern Ocean both during summer and winter periods. Using the MSMR‐derived SIC, we have also derived monthly sea‐ice extent (SIE) estimates for a period extending for about 20 months from the beginning of the launch of MSMR. These estimates show excellent agreement with values derived from SSM/I. These analyses bring out the very high level of compatibility in the measurements and derived sea‐ice parameters produced by the two sensors.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Space Applications Centre (ISRO), Ahmedabad, India 2: National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (DOD), Goa, India

Publication date: August 10, 2005

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