Spatial and Temporal Variation of Sea Ice Geophysical Properties and Microwave Remote Sensing Observations: The SIMS'90 Experiment


  • D.G. Barber
  • D.G. Flett
  • R.A. De Abreu
  • E.F. LeDrew



Boundary layers, Energy budgets, Ice cover, Ocean-atmosphere interaction, Physical properties, Remote sensing, Research, Sea ice, Snow, Snowmelt, Spatial distribution, Sublimation, Surface properties, SAR, SIMS, Temperature, Temporal variations, Water vapour, Barrow Strait, Nunavut, Griffith Island waters, Lancaster Sound


In this paper we present results from a sea ice field experiment conducted coincidentally with overflights of orbital and aerial remote sensing instrumentation in Resolute Passage and Barrow Strait, Northwest Territories, Canada. Our principal focus is to describe the spatial and temporal distribution of selected geophysical variables in the context of how microwave energy interacts with this seasonally varying snow-covered sea ice surface. Over the duration of the experiment, snow crystal size, structure, and snow volume salinities changed sufficiently to affect synthetic aperture radar (SAR) scattering; thermal profiles through the snow cover were diurnally driven; ice surface microscale roughness increased due to sublimation of water vapour from the snow pack onto the ice surface; and bulk ice surface; and bulk ice salinities did not change. Results from the SAR data analysis indicate that the geophysical structure of multiyear ice created a larger and more rapid change in the seasonal SAR scattering signature than did the structure for early consolidated smooth first-year ice. These results are considered fundamental to measurement and monitoring of the seasonal evolution of the snow-covered arctic sea ice surface using SAR remote sensing.

Key words: snow, sea ice, synthetic aperture radar, seasonal evolution, remote sensing