Sea Ice and Atmospheric Parameter Retrieval From Satellite Microwave Radiometers: Synergy of AMSR2 and SMOS Compared With the CIMR Candidate Mission

Raul Cristian Scarlat, Gunnar Spreen, Georg Heygster, Marcus Huntemann, Cătălin Paţilea, Leif Toudal Pedersen, Roberto Saldo

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    Research on improving the prediction skill of climate models requires refining the quality of observational data used for initializing and tuning the models. This is especially true in the Polar Regions where uncertainties about the interactions between sea ice, ocean and atmosphere are driving ongoing monitoring efforts.

    The Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR) is an European Space Agency (ESA) candidate mission which promises to offer high resolution, low uncertainty observation capabilities at the 1.4, 6.9,10.65,18.7 and 36.5 GHz frequencies.

    To assess the potential impact of CIMR for sea ice parameter retrieval, a comparison is made between retrievals based on present AMSR2 observations and a retrieval using future CIMR equivalent observations over a data set of validated sea ice concentration (SIC) values. An optimal estimation retrieval method (OEM) is used which can use input from different channel combinations to retrieve seven geophysical parameters (sea ice concentration, multi year ice fraction, ice surface temperature, columnar water vapor, liquid water path, over ocean wind speed and sea surface temperature). An advantage of CIMR over existing radiometers is that it would provide higher spatial resolution observations at the lower frequency channels (6.9, 10.65, 18.7 GHz) which are less sensitive to atmospheric influence. This enables the passive microwave based retrieval of SIC and other surface parameters with higher resolution and lower uncertainty than is currently possible. An information content analysis expands the comparison between AMSR2 and CIMR to all retrievable surface and atmospheric parameters. This analysis quantifies the contributions to the observed signal and highlights the differences between different input channel combinations. The higher resolution of the low frequency CIMR channels allow for unprecedented detail to be achieved in Arctic passive microwave sea ice retrievals.

    The presence of 1.4 GHz channels on board CIMR opens up the possibility for thin sea ice thickness (SIT) retrieval. A combination of collocated AMSR2 and SMOS observations is used to simulate a full CIMR suite of measurements and the OEM is modified to include SIT as a retrieval parameter. The output from different retrieval configurations is compared both with an operational SIT product and with a ship observation data set.

    The CIMR instrument can provide increased accuracy for SIC retrieval at very high resolutions with a combination of the 18.7 and 36.5 GHz channels while also maintaining sensitivity for atmospheric water vapor retrieval. In combination with the 1.4 GHz channels, SIT can be added as an eighth retrieval parameter with performance on par with existing operational products.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere2019JC015749
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
    Issue number3
    Number of pages23
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

    ©2020. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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