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Comparison of Envisat radar and airborne laser altimeter measurements over Arctic sea ice

Connor, LN; Laxon, SW; Ridout, AL; Krabill, WB; McAdoo, DC; (2009) Comparison of Envisat radar and airborne laser altimeter measurements over Arctic sea ice. REMOTE SENS ENVIRON , 113 (3) 563 - 570. 10.1016/j.rse.2008.10.015.

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Abstract

Sea ice thickness is a crucial, but very undersampled cryospheric parameter of fundamental importance for climate modeling. Advances in satellite altimetry have enabled the measurement of sea ice freeboard using satellite microwave altimeters. Unfortunately, validation of these new techniques has suffered from a lack of ground truth measurements. Therefore, an airborne campaign was carried out in March 2006 using laser altimetry and photo imagery to validate sea ice elevation measurements derived from the Envisat/RA-2 microwave altimeter.We present a comparative analysis of Envisat/RA-2 sea ice elevation processing with collocated airborne measurements collected north of the Canadian Archipelago. Consistent overall relationships between block-averaged airborne laser and Envisat elevations are found, over both leads and floes, along the full 1300 km aircraft track. The fine resolution of the airborne laser altimeter data is exploited to evaluate elevation variability within the RA-2 ground footprint. Our analysis shows good agreement between RA-2 derived sea ice elevations and those measured by airborne laser altimetry, particularly over refrozen leads where the overall mean difference is about I cm. Notwithstanding this small 1 cm mean difference. we identify a larger elevation uncertainty (of order 10 cm) associated with the uncertain location of dominant radar targets within the particular RA-2 footprint. Sources of measurement uncertainty or ambiguity are identified, and include snow accumulation, tracking noise, and the limited coverage of airborne measurements. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Type:Article
Title:Comparison of Envisat radar and airborne laser altimeter measurements over Arctic sea ice
DOI:10.1016/j.rse.2008.10.015
Keywords:Satellite altimetry, Radar altimeter, Laser altimetry, Sea ice thickness, Snow depth, PROCESSING SCHEME, THICKNESS, MOTION, OCEAN, COVER, SHEET, MAPS
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Earth Sciences

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