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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 11, 1967-1985, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-1967-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 11, 1967-1985, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-1967-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2017

Research article | 29 Aug 2017

Sea ice local surface topography from single-pass satellite InSAR measurements: a feasibility study

Wolfgang Dierking1,2, Oliver Lang3, and Thomas Busche4 Wolfgang Dierking et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Arctic University of Norway, 9019 Tromsø, Norway
  • 3Airbus Defence and Space, 14467 Potsdam, Germany
  • 4German Aerospace Center (DLR), 82234 Weßling, Germany

Abstract. Quantitative parameters characterizing the sea ice surface topography are needed in geophysical investigations such as studies on atmosphere–ice interactions or sea ice mechanics. Recently, the use of space-borne single-pass interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) for retrieving the ice surface topography has attracted notice among geophysicists. In this paper the potential of InSAR measurements is examined for several satellite configurations and radar frequencies, considering statistics of heights and widths of ice ridges as well as possible magnitudes of ice drift. It is shown that, theoretically, surface height variations can be retrieved with relative errors  ≤ 0.5m. In practice, however, the sea ice drift and open water leads may contribute significantly to the measured interferometric phase. Another essential factor is the dependence of the achievable interferometric baseline on the satellite orbit configurations. Possibilities to assess the influence of different factors on the measurement accuracy are demonstrated: signal-to-noise ratio, presence of a snow layer, and the penetration depth into the ice. Practical examples of sea surface height retrievals from bistatic SAR images collected during the TanDEM-X Science Phase are presented.

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Information on the sea ice surface topography is valuable in geophysical investigations such as studies on atmosphere–sea ice interactions or sea ice mechanics. We investigated whether space-borne radar systems can be used to measure sea ice elevation. The answer is yes, but disturbing effects have to be considered, in particular sea ice drift and certain technical constraints. With future satellite radar missions, a fast wide-coverage acquisition of sea ice topography may be possible.
Information on the sea ice surface topography is valuable in geophysical investigations such as...
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