Using the ESA SAR Backscatter Tool to Understand the Geophysical and Thermodynamic State of Snow Covered Sea Ice.
Barber, David1; Warner, Kerrie1; Power, Des2; Walker, Nick2; Youden, James2; Williams, Chris3; Partington, Kim4; Ramsay, Bruce5; Arkett, Matt5; Davidson, Malcolm6
1University of Mantoba, CANADA; 2C-CORE, CANADA; 3eOsphere, UNITED KINGDOM; 4Polar imaging Limited, UNITED KINGDOM; 5Canadian Ice Service, CANADA; 6ESA, NETHERLANDS

The mapping and monitoring of sea ice represents a key application area for spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) missions. The European Space Agency (ESA) is undertaking development of Sentinel-1 and Canada is developing the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. Both of these programs will result in much improved temporal coverage of C-band polarimetric SAR data in Artic regions. Monitoring sea ice zones and the arctic environment is one of the major application areas of these missions due to the increased industrial activity in the Arctic. This paper focuses on evaluating the contribution of SAR constellations to operational and scientific monitoring of sea ice geophysical and thermodynamic state using multi-parameter SAR datasets (airborne, spaceborne) and through the development and exploitation of a simulation tool able to predict sea ice radar signatures as a function of the ice type, seasonal state, and of sensor parameters. We use this tool to show how sentinel type SAR products can be used to measure not only the geophysical state of snow covered sea ice (i.e., ice type) but also its thermodynamic state. We present the theory of this type of scattering and show how time series can be used to estimate various sea ice 'climate states', including: snow thickness on sea ice, melt state, melt pond fraction, first-year ice strength and segmentation of rubble first-year from multiyear ice types.