Pancake and frazil ice represent an important component of the Arctic and Antarctic cryosphere, especially in marginal ice zones. The retrieval of their thickness by remote sensing is, in general, a difficult task. A processing system was developed and refined by the present authors in the framework of the EU SPICES project; it is meant for routinely deriving ice thickness in frazil-pancake regions using the spectral changes in wave spectra from imagery provided by space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems. This methodology was successfully tested in the Beaufort Sea through comparison with ground truth collected during the cruise of the “Sikuliaq” in the fall of 2015. In the present study, this technique has been adapted and applied to Antarctic frazil/pancake icefields using COSMO-SkyMed satellite images. Our retrievals were analyzed and validated through a comparison with co-located in situ observations collected during the 2017 PIPERS cruise in Terra Nova Bay polynya. A broad agreement was found between measured thicknesses and those retrieved from the SAR analysis. Results and statistics presented and discussed in detail in this study represent a step towards the autonomous measurement of pancake icefields in remote areas such as Antarctic coastal polynyas and marginal ice zones.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited