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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-195
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-195
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 20 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Melt in Antarctica derived from SMOS observations at L band

Marion Leduc-Leballeur1, Ghislain Picard2, Giovanni Macelloni1, Arnaud Mialon3, and Yann H. Kerr3 Marion Leduc-Leballeur et al.
  • 1Institute of Applied Physics “Nello Carrara” – National Council of Research, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
  • 2UGA, CNRS, Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement (IGE), UMR 5001, Grenoble, 38041, France
  • 3CESBIO (CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPS), Univ. Toulouse, 31401 Toulouse Cedex 09, France

Abstract. Melt occurrence in Antarctica is derived from L-band observations from the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite between the austral summer 2010/11 and 2017/18. The detection algorithm is adapted from a threshold method previously developed for 19 GHz passive microwave measurements from Special Sensor Microwave Imagers (SSM/I, SSMIS). The comparison of daily melt occurrence retrieved from 1.4 GHz and 19 GHz observations shows an overall close agreement, but a lag of few days is usually observed by SMOS at the beginning of the melt season. To understand the difference, we performed a theoretical analysis using a microwave emission radiative transfer model that shows that the sensitivity of 1.4 GHz signal to liquid water is significantly weaker than at 19 GHz if the water is only present in the uppermost tens of centimeters of the snowpack. Conversely, 1.4 GHz measurements are sensitive to water when spread over at least 1 m and when present at depth, up to hundreds of meters. This is explained by the large penetration depth in dry snow and by the long wavelength (21 cm). We conclude that SMOS and higher frequency radiometers provide interesting complementary information on melt occurrence and on the location of the water in the snowpack.

Marion Leduc-Leballeur et al.
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