In 2018, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is scheduled to launch the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), with a new six-beam, green-wavelength, photon-counting lidar system, Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). The primary objectives of the ICESat-2 mission are to measure ice-sheet elevations, sea-ice thickness, and global biomass. However, if bathymetry can be reliably retrieved from ATLAS data, this could assist in addressing a key data need in many coastal and inland water body areas, including areas that are poorly-mapped and/or difficult to access. Additionally, ATLAS-derived bathymetry could be used to constrain bathymetry derived from complementary data, such as passive, multispectral imagery and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). As an important first step in evaluating the ability to map bathymetry from ATLAS, this study involves a detailed assessment of bathymetry from the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL), NASA’s airborne ICESat-2 simulator, flown on the Earth Resources 2 (ER-2) high-altitude aircraft. An interactive, web interface, MABEL Viewer
, was developed and used to identify bottom returns in Keweenaw Bay, Lake Superior. After applying corrections for refraction and channel-specific elevation biases, MABEL bathymetry was compared against National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data acquired two years earlier. The results indicate that MABEL reliably detected bathymetry in depths of up to 8 m, with a root mean square (RMS) difference of 0.7 m, with respect to the reference data. Additionally, a version of the lidar equation was developed for predicting bottom-return signal levels in MABEL and tested using the Keweenaw Bay data. Future work will entail extending these results to ATLAS, as the technical specifications of the sensor become available.
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