Greenland ice sheet, WindSat, ice, water, polarimetric microwave radiometry, snow


WindSat has systematically collected the first global fully polarimetric passive microwave data over both land and ocean. As the first spaceborne polarimetric microwave radiometer, it was designed to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction by including the third and fourth Stokes parameters, which are mostly related to the asymmetric structures of the ocean surface roughness. Although designed for wind vector retrieval, WindSat data are also collected over land and ice, and this new data has revealed, for the first time, significant land signals in the third and fourth Stokes parameter channels, particularly over Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets. The third and fourth Stokes parameters show well-defined large azimuth modulations that appear to be correlated with geophysical variations, particularly snow structure, melting, and metamorphism, and have distinct seasonal variation. The polarimetric signatures are relatively weak in the summer and are strongest around spring. This corresponds well with the formation and erosion of the sastrugi in the dry snow zone and snowmelt in the soaked zone. In this paper, we present the full polarimetric signatures obtained from WindSat over Greenland, and use a simple empirical observation model to quantify the azimuthal variations of the signatures in space and time.

Original Publication Citation

Li, L., et al. "WindSat Passive Microwave Polarimetric Signatures of the Greenland Ice Sheet." Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on 46.9 (28): 2622-31

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Electrical and Computer Engineering