Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 9, 357–366, 2015
The Cryosphere, 9, 357–366, 2015

Research article 17 Feb 2015

Research article | 17 Feb 2015

Comparing C- and L-band SAR images for sea ice motion estimation

J. Lehtiranta, S. Siiriä, and J. Karvonen J. Lehtiranta et al.
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute, Marine Research Programme, Helsinki, PB 503, 00101 Finland

Abstract. Pairs of consecutive C-band synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) images are routinely used for sea ice motion estimation. The L-band radar has a fundamentally different character, as its longer wavelength penetrates deeper into sea ice. L-band SAR provides information on the seasonal sea ice inner structure in addition to the surface roughness that dominates C-band images. This is especially useful in the Baltic Sea, which lacks multiyear ice and icebergs, known to be confusing targets for L-band sea ice classification. In this work, L-band SAR images are investigated for sea ice motion estimation using the well-established maximal cross-correlation (MCC) approach. This work provides the first comparison of L-band and C-band SAR images for the purpose of motion estimation. The cross-correlation calculations are hardware accelerated using new OpenCL-based source code, which is made available through the author's web site. It is found that L-band images are preferable for motion estimation over C-band images. It is also shown that motion estimation is possible between a C-band and an L-band image using the maximal cross-correlation technique.

Short summary
Satellite radar images are used for detecting and quantifying the motion of sea ice. Traditionally C-band radar images have been used for this purpose. The technique has been shown to work with other frequency bands. This work compares C-band and L-band images for the Baltic Sea. We also show that two images of different bands can be used for sea ice motion estimation.