Evaluation of CryoSat-2 derived sea-ice freeboard over fast ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

Type of content
Journal Article
Thesis discipline
Degree name
University of Canterbury. Gateway Antarctica
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Price, D.
Beckers, J.
Ricker, R.
Kurtz, N.
Rack, W.
Haas, C.
Helm, V.
Hendricks, S.
Leonard, G.
Langhorne, P.J.

Using in situ data from 2011 and 2013, we evaluate the ability of CryoSat-2 (CS-2) to retrieve sea-ice freeboard over fast ice in McMurdo Sound. This provides the first systematic validation of CS-2 in the coastal Antarctic and offers insight into the assumptions currently used to process CS-2 data. European Space Agency Level 2 (ESAL2) data are compared with results of a Waveform Fitting (WfF) procedure and a Threshold-First-Maximum-Retracker-Algorithm employed at 40% (TFMRA40). A supervised freeboard retrieval procedure is used to reduce errors associated with sea surface height identification and radar velocity in snow. We find ESAL2 freeboards located between the ice and snow freeboard rather than the frequently assumed snow/ice interface. WfF is within 0.04m of the ice freeboard but is influenced by variable snow conditions causing increased radar backscatter from the air/snow interface. Given such snow conditions and additional uncertainties in sea surface height identification, a positive bias of 0.14m away from the ice freeboard is observed. TFMRA40 freeboards are within 0.03m of the snow freeboard. The separation of freeboard estimates is primarily driven by the different assumptions of each retracker, although waveform alteration by variations in snow properties and surface roughness is evident. Techniques are amended where necessary, and automatic freeboard retrieval procedures for ESAL2, WfF and TFMRA40 are presented. CS-2 detects annual fastice freeboard trends using all three automatic procedures that are in line with known sea-ice growth rates in the region.

Price, D., Beckers, J., Ricker, R., Kurtz, N., Rack, W., Haas, C., Helm, V., Hendricks, S., Leonard, G., Langhorne, P.J. (2015) Evaluation of CryoSat-2 derived sea-ice freeboard over fast ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 61(226), pp. 285-300.
remote sensing, sea ice, sea-ice growth and decay
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Fields of Research::37 - Earth sciences::3708 - Oceanography::370803 - Physical oceanography