glaciology, hydrological techniques, oceanographic techniques, remote sensing by radar, sea ice, water, snow, spaceborne radar


Though designed to measure vector winds over the ocean, new imaging techniques facilitate the use of NASA scatterometer data (NSCAT) in cryosphere studies. NSCAT provides data of unprecedented coverage, resolution, and quality which, when coupled with the scatterometer image reconstruction with filtering (SIRF) algorithm, enables images of O at resolutions approaching 8 km over stationary targets. Such images are useful in ice mapping and classification, and multidecadal studies are possible by comparison with Seasat Scatterometer (SASS) data. The utility of NSCAT data in polar ice studies is illustrated through a review of two cryosphere applications of NSCAT data: (1) sea-ice mapping and tracking and (2) ice-sheet change in Greenland and Antarctica. The wide swath and frequent revisit, coupled with incidence and azimuth angle diversity makes NSCAT data very effective in mapping the extent of sea-ice. In Greenland, snow and ice "facies" are clearly delineated on the basis of the seasonally dependent radar backscattering cross section, due to sensitivity of radar backscatter to diagenetic changes occurring at and beneath the surface. Comparison of NSCAT and SASS data enables study of change in Greenland between 1978 and 1996.

Original Publication Citation

Long, D. G., and M. R. Drinkwater. "Cryosphere Applications of NSCAT Data." Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on 37.3 (1999): 1671-84

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Electrical and Computer Engineering