Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Research article
18 Mar 2014
Research article |  | 18 Mar 2014

Empirical sea ice thickness retrieval during the freeze-up period from SMOS high incident angle observations

M. Huntemann, G. Heygster, L. Kaleschke, T. Krumpen, M. Mäkynen, and M. Drusch

Abstract. Sea ice thickness information is important for sea ice modelling and ship operations. Here a method to detect the thickness of sea ice up to 50 cm during the freeze-up season based on high incidence angle observations of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite working at 1.4 GHz is suggested. By comparison of thermodynamic ice growth data with SMOS brightness temperatures, a high correlation to intensity and an anticorrelation to the difference between vertically and horizontally polarised brightness temperatures at incidence angles between 40 and 50° are found and used to develop an empirical retrieval algorithm sensitive to thin sea ice up to 50 cm thickness. The algorithm shows high correlation with ice thickness data from airborne measurements and reasonable ice thickness patterns for the Arctic freeze-up period.