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Retrieval of sea ice thickness distribution in the seasonal ice zone from airborne L-band SAR

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Although satellite data are known to be useful for obtaining ice thickness distribution for perennial sea ice or in stable thin sea ice areas, their use in the seasonal sea ice zone (SIZ) is still unresolved. In this study, we approached the problem of ice thickness retrieval by using L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). In the SIZ, ice thickness growth is closely related to ridging activity and therefore we expected surface roughness to be correlated to ice thickness. L-band SAR is suitable for detecting such surface roughness and should be a useful tool for obtaining ice thickness distribution. To verify this correlation, we conducted shipborne electromagnetic (EM) inductive sounding and supersonic profiling observations with an icebreaker, coordinated with airborne L-band SAR observations in the southern Sea of Okhotsk in February 2005. The surface elevation was estimated by representing the ship's motion with a low-pass filter. Backscattering coefficients correlated well with ice thickness and surface roughness, defined by the standard deviation of the surface elevation. This result sheds light on the possibility of determining ice thickness distribution in the SIZ.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0819, Japan 2: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba 305-8568, Japan 3: National Maritime Research Institute, Mitaka 181-0004, Japan

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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