Characterizing the relationship between Ku-band radar backscatter and snow accumulation on the Greenland ice sheet

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Geography
Author Miller, Julie
Title Characterizing the relationship between Ku-band radar backscatter and snow accumulation on the Greenland ice sheet
Date 2012-12
Description Recent accelerated mass loss offset by increased Arctic precipitation highlights the importance of a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms controlling mass balance on the Greenland ice sheet. Knowledge of the spatiotemporal variability of snow accumulation is critical to accurately quantify mass balance, yet, considerable uncertainty remains in current snow accumulation estimates. Previous studies have shown the potential for large-scale retrievals of snow accumulation rates in regions that experience seasonal melt-refreeze metamorphosis using active microwave remote sensing. Theoretical backscatter models used in these studies to validate the hypothesis that observed decreasing freezing season backscatter signatures are linked to snow accumulation rates suggest the relationship is inverse and linear (dB). The net backscatter measurement is dominated by a Mie scattering response from the underlying ice-facie. Two-way attenuation resulting from a Raleigh scattering response within the overlying layer of snow accumulation forces a decrease in the backscatter measurement over time with increased snow accumulation rates. Backscatter measurements acquired from NASA's Ku-band SeaWinds scatterometer on the QuikSCAT satellite together with spatially calibrated snow accumulation rates acquired from the Polar MM5 mesoscale climate model are used to evaluate this relationship. Regions that experienced seasonal melt-refreeze metamorphosis and potentially formed dominant scattering layers are delineated, iv freeze-up and melt-onset dates identifying the freezing season are detected on a pixel-by-pixel basis, freezing season backscatter time series are linearly regressed, and a microwave snow accumulation metric is retrieved. A simple empirical relationship between the retrieved microwave snow accumulation metric (dB), , and spatially calibrated Polar MM5 snow accumulation rates (m w. e.), , is derived with a negative correlation coefficient of R=-.82 and a least squares linear fit equation of . Results indicate that an inverse relationship exists between decreasing freezing season backscatter decreases and snow accumulation rates; however, this technique fails to retrieve accurate snow accumulation estimates. An alternate geometric relationship is suggested between decreasing freezing season backscatter signatures, snow accumulation rates, and snowpack stratigraphy in the underlying ice-facie, which significantly influences the microwave scattering mechanism. To understand this complex relationship, additional research is required.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Greenland ice sheet; Scatterometry; Snow accumulation
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Master of Science
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Julie Miller 2012
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 2,594,381 bytes
ARK ark:/87278/s6mp5j3v
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2013-01-03
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 195769
Reference URL
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