Sea-ice deformation state from synthetic aperture radar imagery - Part I: comparison of C- and L-band and different polarization

Wolfgang Dierking, Jørgen Dall

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In this paper, we present a quantitative comparison of L- and C-band airborne synthetic aperture radar imagery acquired at like- and cross-polarizations over deformed sea ice under winter conditions. The parameters characterizing the deformation state of the ice are determined at both radar bands and at different polarizations. The separation of deformed and level ice is based on a target detection technique. The threshold is set such that image pixels with intensities equal to or larger than the highest 2% of the level-ice intensity distribution are classified as deformed ice, independent of the radar configuration and ice conditions. Optical imagery of sufficient quality for comparison is available only in a very few cases. To characterize the deformation state, the areal fraction of deformation features and the average distance between these features are evaluated. The values obtained for both parameters are very sensitive to the radar frequency. Aeral fractions are larger, and average distances are smaller at L-band than at C-band because of the much higher intensity contrast between the deformed and level ice at L-band. The differences between polarizations at one radar band are smaller but not always negligible. In comparison to optical images, it was observed that deformed-ice areas can be distinguished from level ice over their whole length and extension at L-band, whereas at C-band, often, only prominent parts are visible.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    Issue number11
    Pages (from-to)3610-3622
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • sea ice
    • radar scattering
    • synthetic aperture radar
    • image classification


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