Spaceborne microwave sensors are capable of estimating various properties of many geophysical phenomena, including the age and extent of Arctic sea ice and the relative soil moisture over land. The measurement and classification of such geophysical phenomena are used to refine climate models, localize and predict drought, and better understand the water cycle. Data from the active Ku-band scatterometers, the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT), and the Oceansat-2 Scatterometer (OSCAT), are here used to classify areas of first-year and multiyear Arctic sea ice using a temporally adaptive threshold on reported radar backscatter values. The result is a 15-year data record of daily ice classification images. An additional ice age data record is produced using the C-band Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder (SSMIS) with an alternate classification methodology based on Bayesian decision theory. The ASCAT/SSMIS classification methodology results in a record which is generally consistent with the QuikSCAT and OSCAT classifications, which conclude in 2014. With multiple ASCAT and SSMIS sensors still operational, the ASCAT/SSMIS ice classifications can continue to be produced into the future. In addition to ice classification, ASCAT is used to estimate the relative surface soil moisture at high-resolution (4.45 — 4.45 km per pixel). The soil moisture estimates are obtained using enhanced resolution image reconstruction techniques and an altered version of the Water Retrieval Package (WARP) algorithm. The high-resolution soil moisture estimates are shown to agree well with the existing lower resolution WARP products while also revealing finer details.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





QuikSCAT, ASCAT, OSCAT, sea ice classification, Arctic, microwave remote sensing, soil moisture