Validation of SMOS sea ice thickness retrieval in the northern Baltic Sea

Thomas.Krumpen [ at ]


The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission observes brightness temperatures at a low microwave frequency of 1.4 GHz (L-band) with a daily coverage of the polar regions. L-band radiometry has been shown to provide information on the thickness of thin sea ice. Here, we apply a new emission model that has previously been used to investigate the impact of snow on thick Arctic sea ice. The model has not yet been used to retrieve ice thickness. In contrast to previous SMOS ice thickness retrievals, the new model allows us to include a snow layer in the brightness temperature simulations. Using ice thickness estimations from satellite thermal imagery, we simulate brightness temperatures during the ice growth season 2011 in the northern Baltic Sea. In both the simulations and the SMOS observations, brightness temperatures increase by more than 20 K, most likely due to an increase of ice thickness. Only if we include the snow in the model, the absolute values of the simulations and the observations agree well (mean deviations below 3.5 K). In a second comparison, we use high-resolution measurements of total ice thickness (sum of ice and snow thickness) from an electromagnetic (EM) sounding system to simulate brightness temperatures for 12 circular areas. While the SMOS observations and the simulations that use the EM modal ice thickness are highly correlated (r2=0.95), the simulated brightness temperatures are on average 12 K higher than observed by SMOS. This would correspond to an 8-cm overestimation of the modal ice thickness by the SMOS retrieval. In contrast, if the simulations take into account the shape of the EM ice thickness distributions (r2=0.87), the mean deviation between simulated and observed brightness temperatures is below 0.1 K.

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Primary Division
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Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Eprint ID
DOI 10.3402/tellusa.v67.24617

Cite as
Maaß, N. , Kaleschke, L. , Tian-Kunze, X. , Mäkynen, M. , Drusch, M. , Krumpen, T. , Hendricks, S. , Lensu, M. , Haapala, J. and Haas, C. (2015): Validation of SMOS sea ice thickness retrieval in the northern Baltic Sea , Tellus Series A-Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 67 (24617) . doi: 10.3402/tellusa.v67.24617



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