Retrieval of the thickness of undeformed sea ice from simulated C-band compact polarimetric SAR images
Abstract. In this paper we introduce a parameter for the retrieval of the thickness of undeformed first-year sea ice that is specifically adapted to compact polarimetric (CP) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. The parameter is denoted as the "CP ratio". In model simulations we investigated the sensitivity of the CP ratio to the dielectric constant, ice thickness, ice surface roughness, and radar incidence angle. From the results of the simulations we deduced optimal sea ice conditions and radar incidence angles for the ice thickness retrieval. C-band SAR data acquired over the Labrador Sea in circular transmit and linear receive (CTLR) mode were generated from RADARSAT-2 quad-polarization images. In comparison with results from helicopter-borne measurements, we tested different empirical equations for the retrieval of ice thickness. An exponential fit between the CP ratio and ice thickness provides the most reliable results. Based on a validation using other compact polarimetric SAR images from the same region, we found a root mean square (rms) error of 8 cm and a maximum correlation coefficient of 0.94 for the retrieval procedure when applying it to level ice between 0.1 and 0.8 m thick.