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Open AccessArticle

Satellite Remote Sensing of Snow Depth on Antarctic Sea Ice: An Inter-Comparison of Two Empirical Approaches

1
Integrated Climate Data Center (ICDC), Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Hamburg 20144, Germany
2
Polar Research Center (PolReC), Maritime Faculty, Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Istanbul 34940, Turkey
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Walt Meier, Mark Tschudi, Xiaofeng Li and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(6), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs8060450
Received: 25 March 2016 / Revised: 16 May 2016 / Accepted: 18 May 2016 / Published: 26 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sea Ice Remote Sensing and Analysis)
Snow on Antarctic sea ice plays a key role for sea ice physical processes and complicates retrieval of sea ice thickness using altimetry. Current methods of snow depth retrieval are based on satellite microwave radiometry, which perform best for dry, homogeneous snow packs on level sea ice. We introduce an alternative approach based on in-situ measurements of total (sea ice plus snow) freeboard and snow depth, which we use to compute snow depth on sea ice from Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) total freeboard observations. We compare ICESat snow depth for early winter and spring of the years 2004 through 2006 with the Advanced Scanning Microwave Radiometer aboard EOS (AMSR-E) snow depth product. We find ICESat snow depths agree more closely with ship-based visual and air-borne snow radar observations than AMSR-E snow depths. We obtain average modal and mean ICESat snow depths, which exceed AMSR-E snow depths by 5–10 cm in winter and 10–15 cm in spring. We observe an increase in ICESat snow depth from winter to spring for most Antarctic regions in accordance with ground-based observations, in contrast to AMSR-E snow depths, which we find to stay constant or to decrease. We suggest satellite laser altimetry as an alternative method to derive snow depth on Antarctic sea ice, which is independent of snow physical properties. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow depth on sea ice; Antarctic; satellite laser altimetry; satellite microwave radiometry snow depth on sea ice; Antarctic; satellite laser altimetry; satellite microwave radiometry
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kern, S.; Ozsoy-Çiçek, B. Satellite Remote Sensing of Snow Depth on Antarctic Sea Ice: An Inter-Comparison of Two Empirical Approaches. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 450.

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