For remote sensing of Great Lakes ice cover, a field experiment campaign was conducted in the 1997 winter season across the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Superior. The campaign was coordinated in two expeditions on two different United States Coast Guard icebreaker vessels, the Biscayne Bay in February and the Mackinaw in March. Aboard these icebreakers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory C-band polarimetric scatterometer was used to measure backscatter signatures of various ice types and open water at incidence angles from 0° to 60°. The radar measurements include incidence angles and polarizations of spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) on ERS, RADARSAT, and Envisat satellites. The radar data together with in situ measurements form a signature library that can be used to interpret SAR data for ice classification and mapping. Results are presented for backscatter signatures of Great Lakes ice types from thin lake ice to thick brash ice with different snow-cover and surface conditions. The signature library indicates that several ice types can be identified with multi-polarization SAR data; however, single-polarization data can result in misclassification of ice and open water at different ranges of incidence angle and wind conditions. For incidence angles larger than 30°, thick brash ice, the most difficult for icebreaking operations and the most hazardous for ship navigation, can be uniquely identified by co-polarized backscatter for all wind conditions below the gale force.
Journal of Great Lakes Research
Vol. 33 • No. 4
Vol. 33 • No. 4
C-band polarimetric scatterometer
Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)