Freeboard, snow depth and sea-ice roughness in East Antarctica from in situ and multiple satellite data Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractIn October 2003 a campaign on board the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis had the objective to validate standard Aqua Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) sea-ice products. Additionally, the satellite laser altimeter on the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) was in operation. To capture the large-scale information on the sea-ice conditions necessary for satellite validation, the measurement strategy was to obtain large-scale sea-ice statistics using extensive sea-ice measurements in a Lagrangian approach. A drifting buoy array, spanning initially 50 km × 100 km, was surveyed during the campaign. In situ measurements consisted of 12 transects, 50–500 m, with detailed snow and ice measurements as well as random snow depth sampling of floes within the buoy array using helicopters. In order to increase the amount of coincident in situ and satellite data an approach has been developed to extrapolate measurements in time and in space. Assuming no change in snow depth and freeboard occurred during the period of the campaign on the floes surveyed, we use buoy ice-drift information as well as daily estimates of thin-ice fraction and rough-ice vs smooth-ice fractions from AMSR-E and QuikSCAT, respectively, to estimate kilometer-scale snow depth and freeboard for other days. the results show that ICESat freeboard estimates have a mean difference of 1.8 cm when compared with the in situ data and a correlation coefficient of 0.6. Furthermore, incorporating ICESat roughness information into the AMSR-E snow depth algorithm significantly improves snow depth retrievals. Snow depth retrievals using a combination of AMSR-E and ICESat data agree with in situ data with a mean difference of 2.3 cm and a correlation coefficient of 0.84 with a negligible bias.

publication date

  • 2011