Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2017-40
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
21 Mar 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Sea ice local surface topography from single-pass satellite InSAR measurements: a feasibility study
Wolfgang Dierking1,2, Oliver Lang3, and Thomas Busche4 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, 27570, Germany
2Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, 9019, Norway
3Airbus Defence and Space, Potsdam, 14467, Germany
4German Aerospace Center (DLR), Weßling, 82234, Germany
Abstract. Quantitative parameters characterizing the sea ice surface topography are needed in geophysical investigations such as studies on atmosphere-ice interactions or sea ice mechanics. Recently, the use of space-borne single-pass interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) for retrieving the ice surface topography has attracted notice among geophysicists. In this paper the potential of InSAR measurements is examined for several satellite configurations and radar frequencies, considering statistics of heights and widths of ice ridges as well as possible magnitudes of ice drift. It is shown that theoretically surface height variations can be retrieved with relative errors ≤ 0.5 m. In practice, however, the sea ice drift and open water leads may contribute significantly to the measured interferometric phase. Another essential factor is the dependence of the achievable interferometric baseline on the satellite orbit configurations. Possibilities to assess the influence of different factors on the measurement accuracy are demonstrated: signal-to-noise ratio, presence of a snow layer, and the penetration depth into the ice. Practical examples of sea surface height retrievals from bistatic SAR images collected during the TanDEM-X Science Phase are presented.

Citation: Dierking, W., Lang, O., and Busche, T.: Sea ice local surface topography from single-pass satellite InSAR measurements: a feasibility study, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2017-40, in review, 2017.
Wolfgang Dierking et al.
Wolfgang Dierking et al.
Wolfgang Dierking et al.

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