1Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E3, Canada
3Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bussestr. 24, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
4Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, P.O. Box 330440, Germany
5Center for Ocean & Ice, Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Abstract. In preparation for the European Space Agency's (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, we investigated the potential of L-band (1.4 GHz) radiometry to measure sea-ice thickness.
Sea-ice brightness temperature was measured at 1.4 GHz and ice thickness was measured along nearly coincident flight tracks during the SMOS Sea-Ice campaign in the Bay of Bothnia in March 2007. A research aircraft was equipped with the L-band Radiometer EMIRAD and coordinated with helicopter based electromagnetic induction (EM) ice thickness measurements.
We developed a three layer (ocean-ice-atmosphere) dielectric slab model for the calculation of ice thickness from brightness temperature. The dielectric properties depend on the relative brine volume which is a function of the bulk ice salinity and temperature.
The model calculations suggest a thickness sensitivity of up to 1.5 m for low-salinity (multi-year or brackish) sea-ice. For Arctic first year ice the modelled thickness sensitivity is less than half a meter. It reduces to a few centimeters for temperatures approaching the melting point.
The campaign was conducted under unfavorable melting conditions and the spatial overlap between the L-band and EM-measurements was relatively small. Despite these disadvantageous conditions we demonstrate the possibility to measure the sea-ice thickness with the certain limitation up to 1.5 m.
The ice thickness derived from SMOS measurements would be complementary to ESA's CryoSat-2 mission in terms of the error characteristics and the spatiotemporal coverage. The relative error for the SMOS ice thickness retrieval is expected to be not less than about 20%.